©Benoît Linero

David Edwards - the marriage of science and art

Against the flow, researcher David Edwards advocates cooperation between art and science as a way of inventing new and greener modes of consumption.

It isn’t easy describing David Edwards. With graying curls and laughing eyes he doesn’t really fit the stereotype of a biomedical engineering Harvard professor. This hyperactive non-conformist dual French and American researcher, novelist and entrepreneur is constantly breaking down barriers between science and the outside world to bring it closer to design, ecology and humanitarian issues.

« WikiPearlTM, c’est une peau comestible qui représente une nouvelle avancée vers moins d’emballages plastiques. »

Born in 1961 near Detroit to a chemist father and a French mother, Edwards put aside his passion for literature and studied chemical engineering and applied mathematics. He then specialized in aerosol mechanics. In 1997, he developed an inhalation method of administering insulin to diabetic patients. The following year his company, AIR (Advanced Inhalation Research), was bought by a large pharmaceutical company. A billionaire at 36, Edwards decided to get involved in philanthropic projects, particularly those helping young people in city suburbs.

Fascinated by the interactions between art and science, in 2007 he founded Le Laboratoire in Paris. The very simple name hides a unique, hybrid exhibition space devoted to "artscience" where the scientist’s crazy dream takes shape - combining science and art to stimulate innovation. Edwards sees Le Laboratoire as a meeting place where artists and scientists can work together, as he has done with the designer Mathieu Lehanneur. Together, they created the Cellbag, a portable eco-friendly container for carrying water - especially in hot countries where water is both scarce and valuable. Using a biomimetic approach, the Cellbag design took its inspiration from biological cells. As beautiful as it is practical, this invention epitomizes David Edwards’ cross-cutting philosophy.

« David Edwards - The Lab : Creativity and culture »

Water is central to another project supported by Le Laboratoire, "Cummulus". The result of collaboration between the Argentine artist Ciro Najle and Chilean engineers, it is an elegant installation of nets that capture and purify the micro-droplets of water present in fog.

Edwards is very concerned about pollution and believes we have to "leave the era of plastic behind." With this in mind, he once again collaborated with a designer - this time François Azambourg - and developed WikiPearlTM, food packaging made using a natural edible and biodegradable membrane.

David Edwards’ inventiveness seems as boundless as his environmental and humanitarian commitment - the common thread running through all his projects.

Learn more:

- David Edwards’ official website
- Le Laboratoire website
- A new system for capturing water from the atmosphere in Peru


Main picture: ©Benoît Linero

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