What is the vision of Living Colour?
We want to actively contribute to a system that treats the planet and its inhabitants with respect and care.
" Our goal is to advocate for change by creating a more meaningful design process and create awareness and motivate both industry and consumers to make conscious choices. "
We start by shaping the future of colour.
So can we rethink our relationship with colour and can we see living colours as a thing of beauty?
What is the process behind Living Colour and the garments that you have created?
Within this project we had complete creative freedom. At the headquarter of PUMA we got to know the innovation team and learned about PUMA sustainability values. Our designs are inspired by iconic items from the Puma archive. During our second visit to the PUMA headquarters, we were allowed to browse the archive. We used characteristic PUMA styles like the T7 jacket, the retro running shorts and the windbreaker jacket. We deconstructed the patterns and started designing new looks.
For this collection we were also inspired by the Red-backed Salamander.
" The bacteria we use protects this salamander from a deadly fungus. We used the fluid shapes of the redback salamander combined with gender neutral silhouettes. For example the seamless panels in the windbreaker jacket refer to the round lines of the salamander. "
We made design sketches, but then we were mainly guided by the dye results. In this process we worked with the material that was available. So we limited ourselves not to use only new fabric but we used Puma (dead)stock fabrics. For a few details we used sportswear fabrics from our local fabric supplier, deadstock from our own collections and peace silk (non-violent silk breeding and harvesting where the silkworm stays alive) and hemp blend for the T7 jacket and as a panel for the windbreaker.
For us this was the first time we dyed textiles in this amount. We managed to enhance our lab process to dye six garments in total. We mixed the live dye technique, a process where the bacteria are growing organically on the surface of the textile with a dye extract for the textile dyeing in an uniform way and for textile applications. The collection shows that myriad materials can be dyed, from synthetics to natural fabrics and leather.
What are some of the challenges when using living organisms as a design medium?
Designing with living organisms asks for a different design approach. You have to appreciate the material agency in working with a living organism.
" We collaborate with the organism and learn from the organism. "
It also requires interdisciplinary collaboration, our design studio is partly a microbial laboratory, where we cooperate with microbiologists and chemists. Working with living organisms requires a sterile environment and lots of trial and error and patience because working with living things takes time. Biofabrication is an innovative and novel way of designing and is a great way to expand our design toolkit.
ABOUT LIVING COLOUR.
In a few sentences how would you introduce Living Colour?
Living Colour is a collaborative biodesign project by Dutch designers Laura Luchtman and Ilfa Siebenhaar.
" Living Colour explores an alternative to synthetic textile dyes derived from petrochemicals by using natural occurring bacteria that produce pigments, as well as creating a new natural aesthetic. "
We draw attention to the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, in this case a combination of design and science. The name Living Colour also has a deeper meaning. Our colours are truly alive, just as the organisms who produce them. Living Colour proudly communicates a message of natural and eco friendly colours.
DESIGN TO FADE.
In relation to your work, what does “Design To Fade” mean?
Since we don't use any textile treatments or fixing agents to prolong the colour, some colours will naturally change and fade over time and with use. What if these colors are not meant to stay forever? But will fade away during time and external influences.
" Same as in nature, the colours of our textiles change with the seasons of the garment or shoe, enhancing the uniqueness of each garment and the wearer even more. "
To dye biodegradable fibers, the colour has to biodegrade as well. This means not using colour that last for over 10 years and contain harmful chemicals or heavy metals.
What has your collaboration with Puma meant to your work? What does collaborating in general mean to your work? How important is it? How important will it be in the future?
With the capsule collection Puma X Living Colour we want to show you the possibilities of what is possible within biodesign. It’s not a utopian concept, it is here and it is real. Working on this project seems more relevant than ever. The COVID-19 induces lockdowns have clearly showed us what the main sources of pollution are. Puma sees the potential of biodesign solutions and wants to support and explore these future possibilities.
"By showing our dye- techniques and make a tangible collection we want to show to the world the possibilities of natural dyes in beautiful colours that aren't harmful to the environment."
So if we implement non-toxic dyes into our system we can keep our water clean and workers safe.
" The collaboration with Puma gave us the opportunity to challenge ourselves to take our lab scale process to design prototypes for the first ever bacteria dyed sportswear collection exhibition. "
With this exhibition we create a statement around our relationship with colour. It's crucial to collaborate to make any real and lasting changes when it comes to sustainability.
As well, collaboration is needed to take sustainable innovation to scale. If we bring scientist and designers together, we can bring systems and innovations to a whole newlevel. We think fashion will shift from competition to collaboration, it’s the only way to accelerate our industry into a sustaining future.