Faber Futures | Experiment no. 2 | The Rhizosphere Pigment Lab

[Project completion 2013]
The human race has entered the age of scientific mastery: Homo faber (Latin for “Man the Creator”) has begun to craft with ‘the living’, and scientific disciplines are now in an active state of exchange with the humanities, arts and design. Driven by an interest in ecological material, this piece sees a microbiology laboratory become a design studio. An intriguing library of materials suspended in time at -80°C wait to be reawakened, reimagined and redesigned.
The Rhizosphere Pigment Lab is inspired by two things: the notion that laboratory protocol can be interpreted as a craft discipline; and the concept of material provenance from rhizosphere microecologies. The rhizosphere is the section of soil that is directly influenced by root secretions and associated soil microorganisms, and part of this piece’s inspiration comes from examining the microbial ecosystem of a plant’s root structure unique to that species.
This work articulates the unique protocol involved in determining what colour a tarragon plant might provide within its microecology that a rosemary or mint plant cannot, and vice versa. A threestage experiment illustrates: the botanical provenance of the bacteria, the evaluation of pigment produced by the microbial colonies from each plant, and, the corresponding selected samples which actively dye silk scarves in vitro.
The Rhizosphere Pigment Lab invites the audience to witness the alchemy of the ‘unseen’ emerge through a unique collection of biologically coloured and patterned silk scarves. Whilst charting the progress of this live experiment, these fluid fabric forms illustrate how research, science and design are defining new craft processes with the living.
This project is a collaboration with Professor John Ward, The Ward Lab, University College London.
Professor of Synthetic Biology for Bioprocessing, The Advanced Centre for Biochemical Engineering, Department of Biochemical Engineering, University College London
- Commissioned by Science Gallery Dublin for GROW YOUR OWN.
- Commissioned by Heimtextil for Progress! and Revive!
See more here.

Team Credits

Natsai Audrey Chieza

  • Reprogrammer of Nature

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Natsai Audrey Chieza
Reprogrammer of Nature