Project Scope

dyeing textiles with bacteria

Living Colour is an experimental biodesign research project exploring the aesthetic possibilities of natural and sustainable textile dyeing with pigment-producing bacteria.

Some bacteria produce pigments that are biodegradable and friendly to humans, animals, and the environment. Bacterial dyes can pose an alternative to toxic textile dyes.

With our “live dyeing” method – where we cultivate bacteria on fabric – we capture the bacterial life cycle, resulting in visual growth patterns, unique to each dye batch.

Living Colour is both artisanal and highly innovative. We intentionally remove all redundant steps in the dyeing process; we don’t use toxic chemicals, little water, low temperatures and no textile treatments. This thoughtful process results in vibrant colours with natural longevity, challenging industry colour standards.

It is a labour of love between man and microorganism, suitable for experimental designs, like our collaboration with PUMA and The Exploded View.

Growing bacteria as a dye factory can lead to a more sustainable way to colour the world.

Cymatics Research

creating patterns with sound

Living Colour started in 2016 with cymatics research. We explored the possibilities of growing bacteria in patterns by exposing them to sound frequencies. The resonance of sound frequencies is known to create geometric patterns in matter. This principle is called cymatics.

In solid matter, these beautiful patterns are named Chladni figures and Faraday waves in liquids.

The cymatics research is published in an open-source book made by Laura, available at Issuu. For more background info, also read the blog post.

TEDx Talk

sharing inspiration


Design and Concept
Laura Luchtman, Kukka
Ilfa Siebenhaar, Studio Ilfa Siebenhaar

Lab partners
Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences
BlueCity Lab Rotterdam

Vienna Textile Lab (BInc.ink)

Collaborating partners
ArtEZ Future Makers
Waag Society Amsterdam
Wageningen University & Research


MoPop Seattle (US)
TextielMuseum (NL)
London Design Festival (UK)
State of Fashion Biennale (NL)
Dutch Design Week (NL)


Viewpoint Colour
American Scientist
Vogue Business
Nomad Magazine


The Colour Bible, Laura Perryman
Unfolding Fashion Tech, Marina Toeters


ELIIT by European Commission
Creative Industries Fund NL
BankGiro Loterij Fund


Greenpact Impact Award ·  won by our ACT-students team from Wageningen University & Research for “Living Colour” research

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