Tool Method

Co-lab (コラボ) - a format for creative workshops, a community & a philosophy for interdisciplinary collaboration

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 23 October 2017
Last modified on 23 October 2017

Open Science School

Co-lab (コラボ) is a format for creative workshops, a community, and a philosophy for interdisciplinary collaboration. They are open for anyone to replicate with no counterpart. We work with universities, NGOs or science labs in all the world to spread this methodology.

We host interdisciplinary workshops with different topics of science (synthetic biology, biomaterials etc.) and different methods of design(design fiction, design thinking etc.).
Each of our events is unique, as it is driven and co-directed with the participants. At the same time, we keep some common principles:

  • Horizontality: Our workshops are co-organized by the participants and the mentors together.
  • Diversity: We encourage diversity of background, gender, age among the participants to achieve a rich environment.
  • Interdisciplinarity: Our workshops use methodologies, lectures and knowledge that belong to several disciplines.


We believe that science and arts are both creative fields of study. Our workshop is a place where artists, designers, and scientists meet to initiate collaboration. We aggregate designers to learn science. We encourage scientists to value and learn artistic approach and design thinking. We bring artists, designers, and scientists together to explore the possibilities of scientific design and designing science.

Interdisciplinarity is a tool to solve complex problems that are beyond the reach of any discipline alone. To be able to do this, many soft-skills need to be developed. However, we believe that they are central to face the challenges of this new world: conceptualization, inter-cultural communication, project-based learning, adaptation, and willingness to learn.

We also believe that 1 + 1 is not equals 2, but sums much more. Being able to exchange knowledge is the most valuable tool that a community can have. Being able to use the skills that we have learned from our field in another discipline makes us valuable.

How to make a co-lab workshop?

Learning modules

  • Design practicals
  • Narrative workshop
  • Make your weapon
  • Human-centered design
  • Ethnographic research
  • Growing empathy: policy and stakeholder debate
  • Prototype (with cardboard, with biomaterials, etc.)
  • Ideation card game
  • Gamejam
  • Storyboarding


  •  Design lectures / discussions
  • Comparison between science, arts, and design
  • Modes of collaboration in biodesign
  • Showroom of biomaterials
  • Fun versus boring
  • Antropocene debate
  • Architectural design process
  • Participatory lecture "beyond inequalities"


  • Science practicals
  • Bacterial heat shock transformation
  • In silico cloning and protein structure 3D modeling
  • Extraction of ink from S. coelicolor
  • Pigment-producing bacteria
  • Production and processing of Kombucha
  • Chlorella alginate encapsulation
  • Scientific references and publishing
  • Visit to a bio-production plant
  • Making electricity with plants
  • Pigment extraction and thin layer chromatography
  • Make your vitamin pen
  • Enrichment of heavy metal tolerant microorganisms
  • Cadmium uptake experiments
  • Air dust sensor
  • Environmental sampling "meta-communities/micro-landscapes"


  • Science lectures / discussions
  • Cell Biology crash course
  • Biology of Biomaterials
  • Physics of Biomaterials
  • Interdisciplinarity and synthetic biology
  • Biogeochemical cycles: The chemical flows in nature
  • Biology peer-to-peer learning
  • State of the art in bioremediation

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