Design Better
Design Better
Natsai Audrey Chieza: Designing with biology

Natsai Audrey Chieza: Designing with biology

Episode 98 of the Design Better Podcast

Steve Jobs perfectly described the creative process when he said, “Creativity is just connecting the dots”. Innovation and new ideas are often found by combining the familiar in new ways. Natsai Audrey Chieza, founder of Faber Futures, is doing just that. 

Natsai started her education as an architect, became fascinated by materials and transferred into biology, and today is designing new textiles, design processes, and manufacturing methods by harnessing biological technology. She’s a rare individual who can hop between disciplines to design in new ways.

We talk with Natsai about the work she and her team at Faber Futures are doing to help governments and large organizations design more sustainable products using bacteria, fungi, and algae as building tools, and how biophilic design technology could help us address climate change.


Natsai Audrey Chieza is a visionary designer and thought leader. She is the founder and CEO of Faber Futures and a co-founder of Normal Phenomena of Life (NPOL). Launched in 2018, Faber Futures is a pioneering design agency that melds consumer biotechnology advancements with real-world applications. In 2023, Chieza co-founded NPOL, a consumer brand offering biotech products online. NPOL makes tangible how biotechnology can generate new materials that can be beautifully designed to support climate goals and the cultivation of resilient bioeconomy value chains.

​Chieza's approach involves broad-ranging partnerships across biotech, consumer sectors, and cultural institutions. It uses collaborative, story-driven strategies to catalyse engagement and concrete action on critical issues. Notable clients and commissioning bodies include Ginkgo Bioworks, adidas, the Design Museum, MIT Media Lab, and the World Economic Forum (WEF). 

​As a member of the WEF's Global Futures Council on Synthetic Biology, Chieza advocates the integration of design and culture in policy development for bioeconomies powered by biotechnology. Her insights and leadership are sought after on various stages, including as a speaker at SxSW, TED, and Design Indaba. Chieza's contributions to biophilic design have earned her significant media coverage and accolades, including the 2019 INDEX award, known as the Nobel Prize for design.

Premium Episodes on Design Better

This ad-supported episode is available to everyone. If you’d like to hear it ad-free, upgrade to our premium subscription, where you’ll get an additional 2 ad-free episodes per month (4 total). Premium subscribers also get access to our monthly AMAs with former guests, ad-free episodes, and our new enhanced newsletter The Brief that compiles salient insights, quotes, readings, and creative processes uncovered in the show. 

Upgraid to paid

Visiting the links below is one of the best ways to support our show:

Methodical Coffee: Roasted, blended, brewed, served and perfected by verified coffee nerds 🤓. We have our very own Design Better roast at Methodical, grab some here to fuel your creativity:

BetterHelp: This show is sponsored by BetterHelp. Therapy can give you the self-awareness to build a social life that doesn't drain your battery. If you’re thinking of starting therapy, give BetterHelp a try. It’s entirely online, and designed to be convenient, flexible, and to work with your schedule. Find your social sweet spot, with BetterHelp. Visit today to get 10% off your first month.

Crashplan: You may have heard horror stories of people being locked out of their Apple or Google accounts, and losing decades worth of precious files like family photos. That’s why we’ve been using Crashplan for a decade and a half now to back up all of our important files. Visit for 50% off your first year of CrashPlan.

Greenlight: Years ago, Aarron and Eli set up their kids with Greenlight, a debit card and money app made for families. Their allowance is automatically deposited into their account and is divided into three buckets: spending, saving, and giving. With Greenlight’s investing tools, we’ve helped our kids learn how to invest in stocks and mutual funds and they can see those investments grow. Sign up for Greenlight today and get your first month free:

Uplift Desks: For people like us who spend countless hours at our desk, ergonomics are an essential consideration. A standing desk from Uplift Desk can help you avoid the negative effects of sitting all day by improving circulation and reducing strain. Design Better can get a special deal by visiting Use the code DESIGNBETTER5 at checkout for 5% off your order. Free shipping, free returns, and an industry-leading 15-year warranty. They’re a great company.

Gusto: We’re big fans of Gusto, who make it easy to run payroll, set up healthcare and other benefits for your business. They’ve made setting up the HR infrastructure for Design Better a breeze. Gusto is also one of the best designed SaaS tools out there.

Design Better listeners get 3 months free once they run their first payroll - Go to to sign up.

This post is for paid subscribers

Design Better
Design Better
Design Better co-hosts Eli Woolery and Aarron Walter explore the intersection of design, technology, and the creative process through conversations with inspiring guests across many creative fields. Whether you’re design curious or a design pro, Design Better is guaranteed to inspire and inform. Episodes are released semi-weekly for free subscribers, weekly for premium subscribers. Vanity Fair calls Design Better, “sharp, to the point, and full of incredibly valuable information for anyone looking to better understand how to build a more innovative world.”