2021, #speculative-design, #bio-design

Instructors: Andrew Friend, Sitraka Rakotoniaina, Ben Hooker
Tools: Toilet paper rolls, Fusion 360, Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effect


Microbe Psychic is a speculative design project where I envisioned myself as Microbe Psychic who can see, analyze, and manipulate gut microbiomes. To optimize Microbe Psychic’s superpower. I invented a Microbe Extractor that allowed me to collect microbiomes from fecal matter on-the-go. After collecting different types of microbiomes, Microbe Psychic will make them into ice cream toppings to share with those in need. The story is manifested in the form of a comic strip along with a couple of video animations.

Gut microbiomes not only are deeply connected to our immune system, age, gut and mental health, but it also indicates the traces of our lives, immigration history and social inequalities. Based on the current scientific research on our microbiome, the project attempts to imagine and innovate a radical story that invites the audience to learn about the gut microbiome and unpack the social implications surrounding the topic.  

Transposing the concept of fecal transplant, I share the microbiomes that I collect from feces and make them into ice cream toppings. The animations below show how to extract microbiome from feces using Microbe Extractor and adding microbiome toppings to ice cream. Since we coexist with the microorganisms and they bring a great deal of benefit to our lives, I wish to take the edge off of the grossness and the aversion that we associate with fecal matter through the visual style of the project.

Design & Research

Why does microbiome matter and how does it affect our everyday life? It is also shocking to see how immigrants’ microbiome diversity deteriorates after they move to the US.

Designing for Microbe Psychic: How will the prototype work? How does it look like? What does my world look like as a microbe psychic? Does my prototype look like some pristine medical equipment? How sanitized should the extracting process be?

How do I magnify the benefits of healthy/or unhealthy microbiome? As a microbe psychic, I should tailor my entire lifestyle to cultivate the most diverse and healthy microbiome.