Living Colour dyes textiles with pigment-producing bacteria. Living Colour is a collaboration by designers Laura Luchtman (Kukka) and Ilfa Siebenhaar (Studio Ilfa Siebenhaar).
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. The dyeing process is artisanal. They cultivate the bacteria directly onto the textiles, leaving visible growth patterns that create a new and unique aesthetic and one-of-a-kind pieces, no dyeing result is the same.
On the other hand, they 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 do not need vast amounts of agricultural 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. This process also skips essential steps from the regular dyeing process like preparing the fibre for dye uptake and fixing the dye afterwards. The dyeing process is also at a low temperature, at 30 degrees Celsius max.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Waag Society, Wageningen University & Research, ArtEZ Future Makers. PUMA Innovation