photos credits: Véronique Huyghe

Mathieu Lehanneur in collaboration with David Edwards / Le Laboratoire


Upon the return of the first space flights and many analyses, NASA discovered a high level of toxic volatile compounds in body tissues of the astronauts. The American spacecraft was mostly constructed of plastic, fibreglass and the insulating materials and fire retardants gradually poisoned the astronauts. The same effect can be experienced in our living spaces. Each manufactured product gives off or – more precisely – emits invisible volatile components of which the product is made of even years after having been manufactured. ANDREA is a living air filter which absorbs undesirable effects of contaminated air by the profusion of manufactured goods. It takes in the air from the room and absorbs its toxic compounds. ANDREA uses plants selected for their filtering ability. (The gerbera, the philodendron, the spathiphyllum, the pathos and the chlorophytum are among the plants found to be the most effective.) The air which passes through ANDREA is purified by the leafs and roots of the plant.

The creations by Paris-based designer Mathieu Lehanneur range from sensory designs that interact with other objects, to futuristic environments that soothe the human psyche. Lehanneur was one of the first designers to successfully combine organic materials with digital technology, resulting in designs that use live organisms to purify the air or imbue built structures with living parts. In 2006, he received the Carte Blanche from the VIA and he was awarded the Grand Prix de la Création from the city of Paris. In 2008, he received the Talent du Luxe Award and the Best Invention Award (USA) for Andrea. His studio has worked for many prestigious clients and his projects are part of several permanent museum collections: MoMA in New York, MoMA SF, Musee des Art Decoratifs (Paris).

David Edwards, is a primarly Paris-based educator (Harvard professor of bioengineering), inventor and the founder and director of Le Laboratoire in Paris, France, an experimental art and design center for collaboration between artists and scientists. His work, which spans the arts and sciences, includes new approaches to experimental learning through art and science, to treating infectious diseases, new ways of eating, as well as new ways of cleaning the air with plants, such as Andrea.