The Darwin Aquarium Displays the Poetic Beauty of Jellyfish

10.28.15 | By
The Darwin Aquarium Displays the Poetic Beauty of Jellyfish

Is it an aquarium? A kinetic sculpture? An ambient light? The Darwin Tank is all of these things, a mesmerizing magnifying receptacle for watching the poetic movement of jellyfish with a continuous filtration system to keep them moving and alive.

The minds behind this unusual design go by the witty play of words, The Darwin Sect (“Darw-Insect”, get it?), aka Florence Samain and Dave Monfort, two naturalists passionate about design objects “which can reawaken childlike wonder” and to “highlight the creativity of nature and its infinite beauty characterized by the originality of shapes, patterns and colors that compose it.” Previously they’ve been known within the design community for their 2015 butterfly and insect display collections. It appears they’ve since moved onto a life aquatic.



Purchasers of The Darwin Tank are offered a variety of jellyfish to choose from to grace their tank: Aurelia aurita (aka moon jelly), Mastigias papua (golden medusa), Cotylorhiza tuberculata (fried egg jellyfish), Rhopilema esculentum (flame jellyfish), Phyllorhiza panctata, Catostylus mosaicas (blue blubbers), or Acromitus flagellatus. A simple feeding tube injection system provides nutrients via syringe, while the laboratory-grade Boro 3.3 borosilicate glass dome and a multi-spectrum RGB LED lighting system work in tandem for crystal clear viewing (sans any nose prints).


Just in case you were wondering: although the designers remark that “jellyfish have no central nervous system”, this seems partially incorrect, noting jellyfish biology has evolved an elementary “nerve net” for determining external sensory feedback (e.g. touch it and it will swim away). But considering the simplicity of their nervous system, without a real brain, these creatures are believed unable to feel pain, and each creature moves in a reactionary manner akin to a venus flytrap closing its maw on touch.




This may fall under the category of “holiday gift for friends who have everything in life”, an unusual cabinet of curiosity display object which brings an element of relaxing calm into any space. Their Kickstarter has been fully funded, with an expected delivery date of March 2016, with possible future availability through The Darwin Sect website.

Gregory Han is Tech Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at