Design Practice | BIOPLASTICS

Build your design toolkit! Design Practice is a series of free, drop-in workshops for high school students exploring techniques, strategies, and careers in design. No prior experience required—just bring yourself and a creative mindset. This month, join artist and designer Jessie French as we explore the world of bioplastics. Designers all over the world are working on solutions to plastic pollution and reducing our reliance on petrochemicals. French’s work explores plastics made from algae! Participants will work with this algae bioplastic material, molding their own keychain or small object to take home.  


Program Length: 2 hours. Please join us any time between 4:30-5:15 so you have enough time to enjoy the event!
Interactivity Level: High. Participants will design their own bioplastic object guided by a guest designer.
Intended Audience: High school students ages 13-18. 

Design Practice is developed for teens only, no adults are permitted.  


Jessie French is an artist and experimental designer based in naarm/Melbourne, Australia. Housed within an ethos of consumption, sustainability, and regeneration, her practice invites engagement with the possibilities of a post-petrochemical world. Through experimenting with materials, she explores the potential of closed-loop systems, (re)use, conscious consumption and interaction with objects. In 2020, French founded OTHER MATTER, an experimental design studio working with algae-based bioplastics which tangibly explores application of new materials she develops through objects, experiences and futures. 


Location: This program will take place in person in the Lecture Room at Cooper Hewitt (2 East 91st Street, New York, NY). The Lecture Room is on the ground floor of the museum and fully wheelchair accessible. Read more about accessibility at Cooper Hewitt.  

What to Expect: This in-person program will be a hands-on design drop-in workshop (stay for as little or as much time as you like). No previous design experience is required. 

Accommodations:  For general questions, or if we can provide additional accessibility services or accommodations to support your participation in this program, please email us at or let us know when registering. Please make your accommodation request as far in advance as possible—preferably at least one week before the program date when possible.  


Design learning at Cooper Hewitt is made possible by The Pinkerton Foundation, The Richard and Jean Coyne Family Foundation, The Hirsch Family Foundation, PwC Charitable Foundation, The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, internal Smithsonian Institution funds from the Youth Access Grants for Youth Innovation in Rural America, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Image Left: Response-ability is not a calculation to be performed – GH16,Image Right: Algae Bioplastic Tableware [series], 2021. In-studio photos by Pier Carthew.