Exhale: a bionic chandelier that uses algae to clean the air

Engineer and designer Julian Melchiorri used algae to design his bionic chandelier Exhale, designed to purify the air.

The chandelier consists of 70 ‘petals’ in 3 different sizes. Each petal contains green algae, which are activated by a mix of daylight and LED, and sustained by a drip-feed of nutrients. The micro-organisms absorb carbon dioxide and ‘breathe out’ oxygen. The chandelier thus forms a large, natural air-purifier.

Melchiorri believes that photosynthesis can be used in both products and architecture. In 2014, he created the world’s first artificial leaf, called Silk Leaf, by encasing chloroplasts, the plant parts involved in photosynthesis, in silk fibres. By doing so, the chloroplasts were stabilised so that they could keep working. With the chandelier, Melchiorri has taken a different direction, but maintained the same vision.

Exhale won the 2017 Emerging Talent Medal and will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum during the London Design Festival (16-24 September 2017).

Photos: / V&A Museum / Julian Melchiorri