Hotel Symbiogenesis

Hotel Symbiogenesis unfolds a story of an island in the near-apocalyptic future, in which various animal species, including humans, coexist symbiotically. In a speculative hotel room, a collection of artifacts made of fur and leather of the fictional animals is presented.

Hotel Symbiogenesis rethinks the human-nonhuman animal relationships by questioning how the human species have been valuing animal-derived clothing material. The aim of the project was to create alternative mythology, which is not a denial of autonomy and subjectivity of nonhuman animals, specifically concerning the consumption of their skin and fur. Hypothetical Studios speculatively constructed an island as well as the human and nonhuman animals dwelling in it. The island is a big, sympoietic cell that survives the nearly apocalyptic time, operating through the symbiosis of its dwellers. Humans are not exceptional in this relationship. Various rituals of the human residents of the island have co-evolved with the animals in the way that is far from one-directional and exploitative. They make their garments and objects using materials derived from the animals, which gives us a glance at how those humans cohabit with the animals. Designmatter and Hypothetical Studios invite the guests to a hotel on the island and provide sensorial performative experiences around the residents’ artifacts. Especially open during the COVID-19 outbreak, Hotel Symbiogenesis attempts to challenge the anthropocentric worldview still predominant among us.


The first major axis of the project was story-writing. During this phase, Noam Youngrak Son, a design-fiction creator based in Eindhoven, created five different fictional animal species and elaborated on their ways of living. The concept of each animal developed into a tale about an ecosystem and eventually became a mythology about an island in which various animal species, including a group of humans, co-operate, co-evolve and withstand the ecological disasters. The full story can be read here.

The narrative is driven by the following animals: Green Rodents, Color-adapting Reptile, Disaster-warning Birds, Bioluminescent Predator Squids, Memory Urchins

Speculative Craft↓

The story-building process was accompanied by hands-on speculations. An international group of artisans crafted the skins and furs of the fictional animals using their original techniques. This methodology, which we call Speculative Craft, provided significant insights and inspirations about the tactility of the narrative.

During the later stage of the project, the craftspeople began designing the objects using the speculative leathers that they crafted, being in the shoes of the human dwellers of the island. The design process functioned as thought experiments that explored the human perception of the animals, and it was significantly referenced by the story-writing process to depict the human-non-human relationships on the island.

The use of animal-derived materials was excluded throughout the entire design process since there was a consensus that it makes no sense to consume products of animal exploitation for the creation of non-anthropocentric mythology.

The process has been carried out by the following initiatives.

Seoul: Designmatter
Eindhoven: Hypothetical Studios
(Noam Youngrak Son, Kurina Sohn, Anabel Poh)
Singapore: Craft Atelier Singapore, Chen Mee Lee Rattan
UK: Harvey Lloyd Screens

Designmatter X Hypothetical Studios

Hosted by Designmatter X Hypothetical Studios

Designmatter is a design studio based in Seoul.  Consisting of designers, artists, educators, entrepreneurs, engineers, and programmers, Designmatter supports and curates the projects that explore sociocultural complexities and propose possibilities for unseen solutions. 

Hypothetical Studios is an interdisciplinary collective of Eindhoven based designers. It investigates hypothetical possibilities through various disciplines, including craft, story writing, and exhibition-making. Hypothetical Studios are currently represented by the core members Noam Youngrak Son, Anabel Poh, Kurina Sohn.


During Dutch Design Week(17-25 Oct. 2020), the program will take place as one of the seven exhibitions of “What A Time To Be Alive 2020” program at Temporary Art Center Eindhoven. The exhibition will propose a combination of speculative leathers, objects, and stories by having the theme of a hotel room for the island visitors.

The hotel room, which is a geodesic dome, symbolizes the island and the biosphere, and a visitor will be placed as a temporary dweller in it. The narrative will be communicated through sensorial experiences that involve a kinetic light projection on the dome and an audioscape installation surrounding it. Eindhoven-based electronic musician Ko de Beer augmented the sounds of the speculative animals by using generative instruments.

Due to the cancellation of the real-life edition of Dutch Design Week 2020, the physical version of the exhibition will be held as a part of TAC’s regular program, independently from the Dutch Design Week. The audiovisual experience performed around the installation will be filmed and reformatted into an online exhibition platform (The website will be accessible after the 17th of October) to be presented as a part of the virtual Dutch Design Week 2020.

Visit Dutch Design Week Website →

Visit TAC Website →


The temporality of the ecosystem that Hotel Symbiogenesis constructed will be re-contextualized as a passport-sized book. The publication will provide in-depth information about the working methodology explored by Hypothetical Studios as well as its outcome.


Production Detail↓
Digital print on Munken Lynx 80g,
125 X 88 mm, 98 pages, Saddle stitch binding,
2020 December (Scheduled)
Sample Spreads↓