Clara Casal, Magdalena Thur, Elnaz Assar, Nadja Nolte

The Balanophagy Team

We are Clara, Magdalena, Elnaz and Nadja and we are living the balanoculture: the harvesting, processing, storage and consumption of acorns play a large role in our project taking place in the Clean Lab at Mediamatic end of summer 2019. But first, find out more about the four of us.


The Balanophagy Team -

Clara Casal Georgiou  | Spain / Cyprus / Ireland | Nutritional Science

Clara’s main passion in life is orientated around food! Apart from the obvious love of trying new foods and experimenting with recipes; she loves to explore solutions while looking into the future of nutrition and sustainability of the planet. She also loves nature, and what better way to incorporate that than to harvest wild foods for the Balanophagy project! The world of fermentation is also opening up for Clara during her experience in the Clean Lab and it is one she is finding fascinating to discover. Among many things, being creative whilst writing and sketching also play a huge role in Clara’s life.

What can Clara bring to the table?
Clara’s background in Nutritional Science allows her to bring a different perspective to the Clean lab team. Her experimental and curious attitude works to bring new ideas and concepts to the project. Being part of a team to create something nutritionally meaningful is always exciting for Clara. Sustainability is at the forefront of people’s minds as it’s becoming of grave importance, and this project gives Clara an opportunity to explore a new food alternative while learning about wild foods and their properties.

What is the most exciting part of the project?
For Clara, the most exciting part of this project is bringing to light a ‘new’ concept surrounding food. Acorns, the fruit of the oak tree, are not a new food and have been consumed by our ancestors in an array of cultures. Sadly, the practice has been lost throughout history. This may be due to the shift in dietary patterns from local, wild foods to processed, ready-to-eat products. Surprisingly, acorns possess highly caloric and nutritious qualities and could have great potential in the future of our diets!

Why Mediamatic?
Clara was attracted by Mediamatic because it inspired her to intertwine science and art in the one space. She didn’t think such a combination existed until she stumbled upon Mediamatic. Mediamatic’ s ethos is perfect for the development of a more proactive, creative and communicative approach in the workplace. Scientific questions are translated into creative workshops to share the knowledge and work that is done at Mediamatic, and this is what led to Clara’s interest.


Magdalena Thur  | Vienna, Austria  | Agricultural Science & Food Economy

Magdalena is an enthusiast of fermented foods, deep ecology and ethnobotany. With backgrounds both in Graphic Design and Agriculture, she aims to communicate the potential of circular agro-economy, the wild flora and sustainable food systems. Her fridge is populated with pickles, and she never leaves home without a notebook and a bag to collect what nature might present on the way.

What can Magdalena bring to the table?
The spur for exploring the realm of food in all aspects, which is accompanied by dedication to systematise new findings and put them into applicable contexts. Her experience with utilising wild plants and various fermentation processes greatly facilitate the project. 

What is the most exciting part of the project?
The Balanophagy project provides a playground for tackling Neophobia – the fear of novel foods – and for finding inviting ways to get people in touch with their immediate environments. Simultaneously, it offers to deepen knowledge about the rich history of interactions between people and plants.

Why Mediamatic?
Translating scientific findings into captivating stories calls for unconventional methods – luckily, at Mediamatic, Art Thinking is more than a catchphrase, which makes way for outside-of-the-box solutions. 


Elnaz Assar | Netherlands / Iran | Lifestyle Transformation Design  

Elnaz is interested in cultural studies, researching traditions, taboos, superstitions and how to transform them into a new lifestyle for the future. Considering her background in Textile and Fashion design she is an enthusiast in Textile Design and how to make conventional textures out of the unconventional substrates.

What can Elnaz bring to the table?
Communication and researching about the cultural aspects of the project alongside managing, designing and transforming the waste materials of the process in a sustainable way is what she is busy with.

What is the most exciting part of the project?
The Balanophagy project is a new world for Elnaz. It is bringing up the traditional ways of making and fermenting foods her mom used to use when she was a child and she is enjoying this combination.

Why Mediamatic?
Elnaz chose to do her internship at Mediamatic, as she is interested in Art, Design and Science. During the last year of her studies, she has discovered her interest in Biodesign and designing with microorganisms. She began to research institutions that work with these principles while keeping her field of study in mind, and she found Mediamatic to be one of them. 


Nadja Nolte | Kassel, Germany | Product design

Nadja is an enthusiast climber and boulderer and likes to be busy with loads of projects in her leisure time. You’ll probably never find her alone, being around people is one of her favourite activities. Apart from climbing, being active and meeting people, she also likes to be in nature: since spring she is gaining experience with the permaculture approach in a garden she shares with friends. Microorganisms are quite a new field of interest for her and working in the Clean Lab gives her the perfect opportunity to dive deeper into that fascination dimension. Together with the Balanophagy Team, Nadja explores humans’ relationship with wild food and experiments with methods of processing acorns in the facilities of Clean Lab.

What can Nadja bring to the table?
Initiating, creating and running projects that are meaningful for people and society is what Nadja gains energy from. Due to her product design background she is interested in sustainable materials, services and products. Whenever she gets caught by an interesting approach concerning these entities you can count on her hand. 

What is the most exciting part of the project?
Wording and wordjokes! It’s hilarious that “Eikel” jokes are intercultural, at least in German and Dutch. Still thinking about what to do about it… Did you also discover the elegant link between the bitterness of acorns and the term bitterballen?

Why Mediamatic?
Mediamatic for Nadja means working at the interface of researching relevant developments, questions and experiments concerning design, art, nature, technology, food and people and visualising it for people in participatory events and workshops. What a great and fun chance to communicate with and learn from people.