bioMAT matters—CHEMARTS student team in Biodesign Challenge 2023

By June 21, 2023News, Student Blog posts
Hands holding bio-based, temporary mattress material for emergency situations. Spruce branches and cones as decoration on the table.

During the spring 2023, Natasa Hódosi, Giorgia Morandi, Kristian Koleno and Lorenz Koch from Aalto University explored various materials and production methods to create bio-based, temporary mattresses for emergency situations. The interdisciplinary team was tutored at CHEMARTS laboratory by lecturers Anna van der Lei and Janika Lehtonen, representing design and chemical engineering.

bioMAT matters is a project by four CHEMARTS alumni. The project is part of Biodesign Challenge (BDC) 2023, and it’s the fourth time a team from Aalto University is participating in the competition. Biodesign Challenge is an international education program and competition in the field of biodesign. The competition has been arranged every year since 2016. The BDC Summit 2023 will be held on June 22–23.

Team members

Kristian Koleno

Kristian, a Computational Engineering bachelor’s student from Slovakia. Through his expertise, the team is able to harness the power of technology to address emergency situations effectively.

Lorenz Koch

Lorenz, a passionate Chemical Engineering master’s student from Austria, whose expertise helps the team to develop sustainable solutions.

Giorgia Morandi

Giorgia, a Creative Sustainability master’s student hailing from Italy. Her diverse perspective helps the team create innovative approaches for a more resilient future.

Natasa Hódosi

Natasa, Design bachelor’s student from Hungary, who brings her creative vision to tackle these challenges head-on.


Pirjo Kääriäinen is Associate Professor of Design and Materialities at Aalto University’s School of Arts, Design, and Architecture in Finland. Together with professor Tapani Vuorinen she has facilitated the interdisciplinary CHEMARTS collaboration between the School of Arts, Design, and Architecture (ARTS) and the School of Chemical Engineering (CHEM) since 2011. CHEMARTS aims to inspire students and researchers to explore design-driven approaches in materials research and to create future-oriented concepts, applications, and business seeds for a more sustainable world of materials.

Tapani Vuorinen is Professor of Forest Products Chemistry at Aalto University’s School of Chemical Engineering, Finland. He has co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers on the structure and chemistry of plant biomass and its conversion into chemical and material products. His current research focuses on the chemistry, nanostructure, and reactivity of the plant cell wall. Tapani has promoted collaboration between academic disciplines, external stakeholders, and the public through co-organizing interdisciplinary CHEMARTS courses, in-person boot camps, and other partnerships within industrial companies and secondary schools.

Anna van der Lei is a lecturer in contemporary design at Aalto University. In 2008 she graduated with honor from the Design Academy Eindhoven, after which she worked for a major design brand in London before starting her own design practice and becoming a lecturer. As a designer, Anna’s work varies from analog material studies to explorations in the technological world. Her teaching reflects the contemporary and experimental approach she has towards design.

Janika Lehtonen is currently working as a university teacher in the CHEMARTS program at Aalto University. She holds a DSc Tech degree in bioproduct technology from Aalto University. She is interested in the new opportunities provided by sustainable bio-based materials and multidisciplinary collaboration in the fields of science, art, and design. Her research studies the biofabrication of nanocellulosic 3D structures and the utilization of cellulose nanomaterials for water purification.

Project goals were

  1. To create a simple solution that anybody could access.
  2. Cheap transportation and local production.
  3. Develop a fully biodegradable solution.

Materials matter

The production process for bioMAT matters is rooted in environmental sustainability. Aiming to minimize the environmental impact, it only uses four ingredients: wood pulp, fibrillated wood pulp, water and bio-based soap. bioMat Matters utilizes fully biodegradable materials, minimizing waste management issues and reducing the accumulation of harmful residues.

From just one tree and with a simple recipe, the team can produce around 90 mattresses. This showcases the incredible potential of bioMat Matters to provide resourceful sleeping solutions.

Empowering communities

Social sustainability was a key consideration for the team. They designed bioMat Matters to enable on-site production, empowering communities to create their sustainable solutions during emergencies. By making the solution fully open source, they aim to foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing, ensuring the best possible support is provided to those in need.

Economic sustainability

When it comes to economic sustainability, the lightweight design plays a crucial role. bioMat Matters optimizes logistics, enabling cost-effective transportation and efficient deployment, particularly in resource-constrained areas.