Living Colour dyes textiles with pigment-producing bacteria. The biodesign project investigates an alternative to hazardous textile dyes and a new natural aesthetic. Dyeing with bacteria is a fermentation process where bacteria metabolise a nutrient into a pigment. Our dyeing process is artisanal. On one hand we cultivate the bacteria directly onto the textiles, leaving visible growth patterns that creates a new and unique aesthetic and one of a kind pieces, no dyeing result is the same. On the other hand we harvest the pigment from the bacteria and use it as a dye extract to dye fabric in an even colour. Compared to growing crops for natural dyes, bacteria don’t need vast amounts of agriculture land, water or time to grow. Within 3 days the bacteria can produce the dye and dye the fabric at the same time. Compared to synthetic dyes, bacterial dyes don’t use toxic and complex chemicals, the production of the dye can be done at the same place as the dyeing itself, which can save time and transport. We also skip essential steps from the regular dyeing process like preparing the fibre for dye uptake and fixing the dye afterwards. Plus we dye at low temperatures, at 30 degrees Celsius max. Living Colour is a joint effort of designers Laura Luchtman (Kukka) and Ilfa Siebenhaar (Studio Ilfa Siebenhaar).
Text submitted by the maker
Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Waag Society, Wageningen University & Research, ArtEZ Future Makers. PUMA Innovation
Laura Luchtman & Ilfa Siebenhaar