Dyeing textiles with dancing bacteria is the latest biodesign project by Dutch designers Laura Luchtman and Ilfa Siebenhaar, leading to a more sustainable colouring.
Living Colour is a biodesign research project by Rotterdam based designers Laura Luchtman and Ilfa Siebenhaar who explore the cross-pollination of nature, science and design, where living organisms form an integral part of the design process.
In their latest project they introduce natural textile dying with living microorganisms. By subjecting pigment-producing bacteria to sound frequencies Living Colour investigates the possibilities of growing bacteria in patterns. The study takes inspiration from cymatic phenomena like Chladni figures and Faraday waves, which cause matter to take form in geometrical patterns when subjected to sound.
With the help of sound engineer Eduard van Dommelen the designers built a sound installation in a biomedical lab. By making the bacteria dance, they attempted to exclude random growth in order to create patterned fabrics: they discovered that sound frequencies help speed up pigment production. While the bacteria that weren’t subjected to sound created stained fabrics, they found that the dancing bacteria created plain dyed fabrics. Even though this result was the opposite of what they aimed for, the outcome could lead to ways of up scaling the bacterial dye process. These bio pigments are an alternative to synthetic, toxic textile dyes, since growing bacteria as a dye factory can lead to a more sustainable way to colour the world.
Design: Laura Luchtman and Ilfa Siebenhaar – Kukka
Sound engineering: Eduard van Dommelen