As gross as it may seem, thinkers at IDEO are collaborating with scientist to train bacteria such as E Coli to form everyday objects, such as a simple coffee mug.
IDEO has joined forces with the team at Lim Lab university in San Francisco to exploit the properties in microorganisms to grow products. The plan is to expand on already demonstrated abilities of the E.coli for example, being responsive to light. This property will be linked to something different, such as the production of a hard shell casing. This shell, which is the same as what makes up a lobsters outer layer, will be used to create tangible products.
The living organisms could also be used to not only make the products but have other health related benefits. The bacteria used would be embedded in the cups walls and would then leach into the water held by the cup. As a result it would aid in digestion or some other health benefits.
This idea would challenge one of the primary principles of consumer goods, for instance its packaging. Packaging is usually secondary to the product however the role would be reversed and the packaging would generate the product being purchased.
At this stage the idea is entirely conceptional but is based on real science. Sometime in the near future, you might be getting more than just your daily cup of coffee.