Sustainability on materials in contemporary art by the approach of biomimicry

A four-day long symposium in Nisyros & online presentation 

3-6 June & November, 2022


Organised by:

Maria Adela Konomi OnMaterials 

Greg Haji Joannides NISYRIO

With the financial support of the International Alumni Center Berlin



The program unfolds in three interconnected sections: an online kick off meeting with all participants, a four-day long symposium in Nisyros and an online event. Its aim is to share the methods, knowledge and the practical tools collected and developed during the symposium working as a bridge builder between communities to enable social cohesion and innovation.

The symposium explored the concept of sustainability on materials in relation to contemporary art by the approach of Biomimicry, which implies a strategy for integrative development in harmony with nature. It established an interdisciplinary space for artists, cultural practitioners & educational program developers, industrial designers, academics and scientists to connect, research and initiate a dialogue on the field of sustainability in the arts.

Key axis of the symposium:

  • Biomimicry, theoretical and hands-on approach 
  • Material technology 
  • Artistic practises around circular economy/upcycling


Main aim was to observe and explore Nisyros’ nature with the guidance of Assistant Professor Ioanna Symeonidou and Marine Biologist Thodoris Kampouris and start a dialogue with artists, industrial designer, art practitioners and sustainability experts about the materials used in the production of contemporary art. Biomimicry offers an empathetic, interconnected understanding of how life works and ultimately where we fit in. A practice that learns from and mimics the strategies used by spices alive today. Although the goal of Biomimicry is mostly related to how we can create products, processes, and systems, new ways of living, that solve our greatest design challenges sustainably, we tried to connect this practise to the production of contemporary art taking as a fact the plethora of artificial materials available being used for it.


By inviting Yasmine Ostendorf The Green Art Lab & Future Materials Bank we were introduced to existing innovative materials for artists that propose sustainable, biodegradable or non-toxic alternatives. Materials produced out of vegetables fats and oils, corn starch, straw, wood chips, recycled wood waste and many more are in the disposal off the artists that are willing to cultivate a practise that doesn’t impact negatively the environment. The artist duo Hypercomf led a session on their recent project, a sustainable flooring technique, inspired by the Venetian ‘terazzo’, that utilises a big percentage of micro and macro plastics that litter the oceans. 3 137, an artist initiative  presented their project on circular economy, good waste processing and art as a tool to raise awareness and the industrial designer Konstantinos Skopas presented the approach of product design observing natural forms.

The above presentations and everything said during the symposium were collected by the team of COMM’ON and turned into the Guide you are now reading with the aim to be an educational tool / practice / resource/ reference about the sustainability on materials in contemporary art.




The scope of the project is not to discover or determine new materials for art production but to initiate a discussion inviting the members of the network and general audience to participate, share knowledge and practices on sustainability on materials in contemporary art providing the results/thoughts/practises from our workshops as a starting point for this discussion.

The results/thoughts/practises from our gathering will be provided as a starting point for this discussion. Our vision is to continue gathering different approaches and provide alternatives for a more sustainable art industry. For this, Mrs Lika Imerlishvili – who has been researching sustainability development, to share with us The Sustainable Development Tool – practical tools, methods and inspiration around sustainability and community participation. This will lead to an online discussion on the basis of cross sectoral collaboration.