This workshop proposed to explore new modes of fabrication based on plants to a group of designers from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle (ENSCI Les Ateliers), and from Central Saint Martins College in London. These new models are inspired by industrial, botanical and horticultural techniques rather than by the alteration of the plant’s genetic code, thus formulating a deliberate opposition to biotechnology and genetic control. By playing with the environment of growth of plants, and by investigating a new seasonal production timescale , it is possible to produce without altering, to guide without controlling, to predict without programming. Imagined in this way, the Botanical Factory is able to generate products or semi-products in production chains of a new type. Production time is adapted to the plants’ growth to “harvest” products according to seasons.

Several hypotheses have been formulated by the participants of the Botanical Factory workshop, who explored different varieties of plants and trees. Other plant varieties and botanical production methods were also investigated to feed the designer’s imagination. This workshop led to new encounters between botany and industry in which objects can be simultaneously manufactured and eco-factured.

In the EN VIE/ ALIVE exhibition, we are presenting an example of a production chain of electronic objects, composed of a moulded gourd body, along with other electronic components. Here we are showing the production of the external component of a radio, a torch, a multi-plug and a hairclipper.

These alternative examples are presented here by a series of illustrations. The Botanical Factory workshop was led by Guillaume Foissac and Carole Collet with the participation of Dr Dawn Saunders, the CSM MA Textile Futures, and the support of the EDF Foundation.