Category: Lab Project


Kombucha Leather – Research Resident Riina Oun

Kombucha leather

Riina is a designer and maker of hand-crafted leather gloves and a material researcher currently pursuing her Masters of Arts in Material Futures at Central Saint Martins UAL. During her research residency at Green Lab Riina is searching for a biological leather substitute suitable to use for making gloves. She is currently researching kombucha SCOBY (the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), grown on the surface of the beverage, with the goal of developing it into the ultimate vegan leather substitute material.

Coming from a design background with a focus on leather accessories, Riina is looking for new alternative material options that retain the positive qualities leather offers. Kombucha leather is relevant as a potential alternative to animal leather, whilst avoiding man-made oil-based fake “vegan” leather. Riina would like to contribute into developing a leather replacement material that is sustainable with minimal impact to the environment and that can be easily reproduced without creating non-biological waste.

kombucha leather samples

During her residency, Riina´s research includes fermenting and growing the kombucha SCOBY in large sizes over several weeks, testing various finishes of processing the SCOBY into a visually appealing, soft and durable material and prototyping “leather” fashion accessories to test their wearability.

www.riinao.com

Algae Cutlery – Research Resident Midushi Kochhar

Agar samples

Midushi is a product designer and material researcher who is pursuing her master’s degree in Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins UAL. For her 12 week research residency here at the lab she is using her material driven approach to concoct sustainably derived materials from the sea and wasteful everyday resources and translate them into commercial products.

For her initial research she has been using Agar- Agar which is derived from red algae. Agar has been used in the medical industry for a number of years due to its nutrient content but more recently designers are starting to explore it’s potential as a bioplastic. With the growing concern over single use plastic, Midushi aims to tackle this issue, focusing in on single-use cutlery she is exploring how to make biodegradable tableware to help eradicate this pollution phenomena.

She is currently exploring various recipes and composite options to make the most durable material – mixing agar- agar with various available food waste such as egg shell powder, pea pods and beetroot peels. She has also added ingredients including red chili powder, turmeric, charcoal and gram flour to understand the various properties these substances can provide.

By developing mundane but functional objects such as disposable cutlery, Midushi hopes to bring about acceptance and popularity towards a new aesthetic thus opening up the possibilities of producing more biodegradable short life products that won’t last forever and pollute our natural world.

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MYCHROME PROJECT – research resident Valentina Dipietro

mycelium samples

Valentina Dipietro is a material designer and researcher about to complete her MA in Textiles at the Royal College of Art. She is currently undertaking a 12 week research residency here at the lab, utilising our developing material lab to experiment with mycelium materials with an outcome to make them viable for products and interiors.

Her project, Mychrome (from mycelium and khrôma –atos, “colour” in ancient greek), is based on material circularity and usage of waste to supply a need for a radically sustainable range of materials for design which are compostable, but at the same time, desirable.

mycelium textures

Mycelium is the vegetative part of the mushroom and it can grow on different varieties of agricultural waste. The material fully colonises the waste in the span of two weeks from inoculation while in the right environmental conditions and it presents advantageous physical properties, as it is fire resistant as well as temperature and sound insulating. At the end of its life span it can be re-introduced in the environment as an agricultural fertilizer.

During her residency she will experiment on how to incorporate colour and waste at incubation level, experimenting with different varieties of fungi (Pleurotus Ostreatus, Ganoderma Lucidum or Fomes Fomentarius), as well as multiple waste substrates like straw, wood chips, sawdust and hemp. Combining them with natural pigments obtained from wine waste, she aims to create textural materials and, at the same time, experiment with a range of natural finishes in the realms of natural resins, agar and wax.

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OD&M Future Algae presentations

CSM MAID students

On Wednesday 28th November we saw the MA Industrial Design students from Central Saint Martins, working on the OD&M Future Algae brief, present there projects exploring the immense potential algae holds.

For the the final crit all the students from across the course came together to present the projects they’d spent the last 6 weeks developing – with 3 briefs (future algae being one of them) we saw varied starting points all focusing on open design and manufacturing, circular economies and systems design.

For the algae brief the students all started at the same point – exploring the future potential of algae (both macro & micro) but all groups research took them down different paths, focusing on different narratives to explore this material through.

Group 1.

RHODON - luxury toiletries

With growing frustration of throw away, single use plastics Group 1. decided to focus on this sector. With the hope that consumer change will continue to grow and we will see less demand for single use products the group identified a few industries where they thought the convenience single use offers will continue to be necessary. Focusing on the service sector and hotels in particular they created a narrative to celebrate algae’s ability to replace plastic as a bio plastic alternative, allowing single use products to not have a lasting negative impact on the environment.

consumer system

Creating a company that operates directly in the hotel supply chain they created a closed loop system of creating luxurious algae toiletries for hotel rooms – There kit RHODON houses single use products for those traveling light.

Identifying independent hotel chains on the south coast they sought to develop a system from – raw material – to product – to end of life care. By choosing a controlled environment such as hotels they can remain in control of there products right through to disposing of them.

The system

System diagram

The group understood the need to still create luxury products and try to separate the idea of a sustainable alternative offering a lower aesthetic – they need to continue there material work to create prototypes as desirable as there rendered samples but the project holds potential and there ability to identify a niche narrative and environment to work within allowed them to focus there project.

Group 2.

alje website

With fast fashion an ever growing problem and the enjoyment we gain from consuming not decreasing Group 2. chose to focus on the single use properties of algae, celebrating it’s ability to biodegrade and return to the environment. They created a project that played with consumers enjoyment of buying – creating short term swimwear brand ALJE.

Swimwear is typically made from plastic based fibers, to ensure product durability whilst in the water and being exposed to the sun – however with trends changing as fast as the seasons they found that many holiday goers like to purchase new beach attire for each holiday.

alje website

Rather than building a product to last for as long as possible, ALJE has a purposefully short shelf life – allowing  consumers to  update there swimwear regularly, guilt free.

THE SYSTEM

Using the website you can pick your item, enter your size and choose your finish. This is then sent to a local 3D Knitting machine placed at a makerspace. You can then collect your order in person or have it sent to you.

Once ALJE has reached it’s end of life span it can be returned to the company to be recycled or there website will help you to locate a suitable composting location near to you.

The ALJE System

Whilst this project remains at the speculative stage and the group need significant development of algae based samples and to conduct exploration with manufacturing and distribution techniques – they managed to identify the possibilities that open design platforms could offer the fashion industry whilst tapping into the idea of fab cities and a more connected maker movement.

Group 3.

Tote bag instructions

Through the future algae brief Group 3. became very aware of how little they had known about algae previously and were shocked to learn the potential it holds for a more sustainable future. Identifying the fact that the public probably knew as little as them they set about to create a communication project that would educate and inspire others to take part in the algae conversation.

Creating an exploration kit to communicate and engage the public the group visualised this material becoming a DIY phenomenon, creating an accessible kit that contained at home experiments and learning with algae. As well as the kit, the group mocked up a website and pop up shop where the public could actively engage with the material. Creating an open source platform the idea would be that the curious could share there experiments, create further work, encourage others to explore and ultimately create a large scale constantly updating recipe book.

Online recipes

With algae found around the world the online platform also allows those further afield to explore recipes without needing to purchase the kit.

This is algae exploration kit

The group successfully identified the need for alternative sustainable options to become part of the conversation – as the more we know about alternatives the more likely we are to demand them. By creating a kit that is lo-fi and accessible it allows for maximum engagement. The success of this project would be visible by physically putting it to the test and engaging the public.

All projects had a certain level of speculation in order create future narratives, although all are not to far from possibility – with algae exploration advancing constantly and more people working within this sector we are hoping to see the students take these projects further and potentially develop them into a reality.

This project took place over 6 weeks, the students responded to a brief that challenged them to work with alternative ‘new’ materials and to understand the areas of industry that algae can infiltrate – the Green Lab team can offer similar projects & tailored briefs – if you are interested in a brief lead by the team for your organisation, school, college or university please get in contact at:

grow@greenlab.org

 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE OD&M PROJECT

The MICRO_FOOD Library by research resident Sneha Solanki

Sneha Solanki of the A to Z Unit joined our research residency programme in October and is spending 3 months at the lab working on her project the MICRO_FOOD Library.

‘The MICRO_FOOD Library aims to bring the microbial transformers from our food systems to the forefront as a library of micro-organisms. Missing and un-credited bacteria, yeasts & fungus often perform to provide complex flavour profiles, nutrition & of course intoxication – Although their hard-work is enjoyed by many they often go unnoticed.

During the research residency, the project aims to bridge or counter some of this oversight through developing a repository of knowledge and micro-organisms that aspires to engender a ‘D.I.Y’ (Do It Yourself), D.I.T.O (Do It Together) or ‘D.I.W.O’s (Do It With Others) approach to culturing, consuming and engaging with this integral element from our food landscape. The A to Z Unit is an autonomous and evolving culinary research facility with a mission to map, investigate and interact with food systems and ecologies.’

During the first month of the residency Sneha has conducted a large amount of research, planning and mapping for the library – building it into a coherent and ‘possible’ framework.

MICRO_FOOD Library framework

The first micro organisms introduced into the library are:

Acetobacter aceti, Acetobacter Ketogenum, Acetobacter pasteurianus, Acetobacter xylinum, Acetobacter xylinoides, Bacterium gluconicum, Bacterium xylinum, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Brettanomyces lambicus, Brettanomyces custersii, Gluconacetobacter kombuchae, Kloeckera apiculata / Hanseniaspora uvarum, Pichia pastoris, Saccharomycodes apiculatus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomycodes ludwigii, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Zygosaccharomyces bailii, Zygosaccharomyces kombuchaensis, Lactococcus lactis var. longi, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus (Lactobacillus bulgaricus) Streptococcus salivarius subspecies thermophilus (Streptococcus thermophilus)common name: Egyptian Kombucha and Långfil & Bulgarian yoghurts, all chosen for their reversioning or continuous legacy.

Egyptian Kombucha & Bulgarian Yoghurts

These organisms, and others that will be added will be classified under an ‘X-Number‘ system- to credit their hard-work which often goes uncredited from our food systems.

Micro-organisms Engineered through genetic systems or synthetic biology will be organised as the ‘E-Number‘ system within the ‘MICRO _FOOD library’. Taking over the ‘European’ ‘E-Number’ system post-brexit.

Follow her research and the project to find out more

Future Algae – exploring the Margate coastline, Haeckels and seaweed

Yesterday the Green Lab team took a group of students from MA Industrial Design, Central Saint Martins to Margate for a day of exploring the potential of seaweed for the OD&M (open design & manufacturing) project. With a focus on the future potential algae holds we have challenged students to work with this material and explore speculative futures where algae will play a big role.

Margate seaweed

With Margate and the Thanet coast being home to an abundance of seaweed, as well as company Haeckels that are showcasing this amazing material and its beneficial properties, we took the students for a day of exploring the plethora of algae available.

Haeckels shop

Visitng Haeckels making space we met founder Dom to hear more about the products he makes from the seaweed harvested from the shoreline. Having discovered an abundant material that know one was utilsing Dom started to create cosmetics that showcased the benefits of seaweed.

Dom & the students

As well as making with materials from Margate and in Margate he also has a passion for sustainable systems within his business – now focusing on packaging and distribution to ensure a low impact product. As a coastal warden Dom and his company are actively caretaking for both there home and surroundings whilst raising awareness of the power of nature and answers it can hold.

find out more

Algae: a material for healthier urban environments

    The lab is continuing it’s work as a partner with University of the Arts London (UAL) for the EU funded project OD&M (Open design & Manufacturing). This project connects universities, makerspace and enterprises to work collaboratively encouraging open-design principles, innovative practice and sharing ethos to design towards social good.

    As a makerspace with a concern for re-designing complex urban food, water and waste systems Green Lab values open-source design and innovation to tackle important challenges for the future and knowledge exchange is fundamental to achieving sustainable practice on a global scale.

    For this stage of the project a small team from Green Lab will spend the next 6 weeks tutoring 12 MA Industrial Design students from Central Saint Martins. Having created a design led brief that focuses on the future of Algae, students will be encouraged to work with these incredible organisms to speculate the immense potential they could have in a more sustainable future. This brief will challenge them to work with living systems and encourage them to focus on material as a starting point.

    MAID students ideation workshop

    The Brief

    The open design for sustainable future living project will explore how an open design-led process can be used to develop future products, materials, new processes or services that use algae as the core material; whether at an industrial level such as a future biofuel, at a much more personal level for cosmetics, food source, a new material, decorative perspectives or as a bioremediation (cleaning our air and landmass).

    The context

    The natural resources of our planet are being used at a greater rate than they can be naturally replenished and the shift towards a more sustainable and ecological way of using resources has become a global imperative.

    A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a sobering picture of the potentially terrible impacts of allowing global mean surface temperature to rise by 2C compared with pre-industrial levels: more extreme weather, sea level rise and ocean acidification, with detrimental effects on wildlife, crops, water availability and human health.

    Exploring how we use naturally occurring biological and organic materials that do not have a detrimental effect on our natural habitats, human life or broader ecological survival is now being explored by organisations across the corporate footprint of every major country.

    This project seeks to provide an insight into naturally occurring macro and micro algae that grow in freshwater and saline environments; from the tiny microscopic algae that create the green waters in local ponds to the vast kelp forests that fill our oceans. Algae occurs naturally in our oceans in the form of seaweed and also in freshwater in temperate and tropical environments.

    Algae are simple life forms with simple biological needs (light, Co2, simple nutrients) and have been farmed and used to create new materials, fuel sources, highly nutritious food sources, cosmetics, light sources and decorative materials. Algae has numerous benefits that make it an ideal choice for creating a variety of sustainable products.

    idea generation

    The outcomes

    We are asking the students to produce a set of design tools and methods that explore collaborative design research with stakeholders of the product, service or materials developed. We also require insight into the feasibility of developing the end product/service as a commercial service and also the environmental impacts the product/service will have.

    All narrative and future scenarios must be backed up with research currently being done within this field.
    They will produce a physical end product, design or service model that can narrate the scenario there work is situated within.

    The project offers design challenges of working with living materials and systems, installing a greater consideration and understanding of the material itself.

    We will be running a series of workshops and field trips with the students aiming to inspire them of the vast possible directions they can take this brief.

    The outcome will be an open design project that allows for public engagement and critique. Theoretically this process should enable people from outside of the university space to pick up ideas and research conducted throughout the 6 weeks and develop there own future possibilities.

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We’ve space for you to #grow #farm #ferment #experiment

With the Lab staying put in Bermondsey we now have some affordable temporary project space – if you have an exciting project or area of research you are working on and think you would be a good fit and one of the below options suits your needs make sure you get in touch.

Lower lab floor plan

Studio space

We have a studio available to rent in the lower lab – this bright and airy space is over 13 sqm with two large windows letting in plenty of light. The space would be ideal for an individual or small team seeking private space to work.

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Mushroom growing room

We have a dark space with no windows perfect for growing fruiting mushrooms or to experiment with mycelium materials. The space is over 6 sqm and has standing bench desks along the walls

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Fermentation & Brewing room

This room is perfect for fermentation and brewing with its previous tenant brewing fabulous Kombucha. The space is 7.5 sqm.

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Wet Lab

Our downstairs wet lab has over 750sqft of flexible work space for projects to grow into. The space is also set up with large scale sinks, work benches, and space for research, growing, farming and making as much mess as required.

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Taking a space in the lab also provides you with access to our upper lab Makerspace with digital fabrication, our Materials/Bio lab and contact with the wider Green Lab community engaging with food, water and waste issues.

We are also taking applications for our Research Residency programme, to find out more and apply for 3months access to the lab and facilities click here.

Southwark… we’re sticking with you

The Lab has gone a little quiet over the last week – with big decisions to be made…

With the news that our Bermondsey home will stay standing until early 2019 we have decided to stay put and halt our move to Brixton – that’s right Lambeth – I’m afraid you aren’t getting us yet.

It was a difficult decision to make but we feel it is the right one for the lab for now. Over the coming weeks we are going to be focusing our attention identifying what the lab means to people and understanding exactly which are the most important areas for us to continue with.

We’re going to continue our focus on projects and research working with food, water and waste we provide a space to test, research and grow new ideas that are going to make real positive change for the future. The lab will still be open for short term urban agriculture technology and growing projects in our wet lab and also upper clean areas.

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Open Design & Manufacturing

Green Lab is partnered with University of the Arts London (UAL) as part of an EU funded project OD&M (Open Design & Manufacturing). The project connects universities, makerspaces and enterprises to work collaboratively encouraging open-design principles, innovative practice, and sharing ethos to design towards social good.

As a makerspace with a concern for re-designing complex urban food, water and waste systems Green Lab values open-source design and innovation to tackle important challenges for the future and knowledge exchange is fundamental to achieving sustainable practice on a global scale.

OD&M Knowledge

Green Lab took part in ‘Arts Work of the Future’ by Digital Maker Collective at the TATE Exchange from 6th – 11th March 2018. The week long residency was a collaboration between Digital Maker Collective ( a collective of students, alumni & staff from Camberwell, Chelsea & Wimbledon, UAL), MA Industrial Design students from Central Saint Martins and makerspaces – Green Lab and Fab Lab Lodz. The residency encouraged open design principles and knowledge exchange, working collaboratively and inviting the community to engage with and partake in the creation of the work.

Green Lab collaborated with a team of students & staff from Digital Maker Collective to create a Growing Space – an indoor greenhouse exploring indoor farming and sustainable food systems, built using end of life materials and designed to be modular, resulting in the structure physically growing as the week went on alongside the plants. The space invited the public to add sections as they wished, creating a network of growing spaces, planting seedlings in recycled plastic bottles and cups as they went. The design was purposefully self explanatory and easy to assemble, encouraging people of all abilities to engage with building it.

Chillis growing

The space challenged preconceived perceptions of the ability to grow indoors and within the city, encouraging creativity when thinking of the materials and equipment required. By collecting locally salvaged and recycled materials from our urban landscape it poses to redefine the value of objects. As well as producing edible crops the space created a temporary green environment, providing a peaceful space to relax.

Green Lab resident Edward Hill talked of sustainable growing within urban environments, holding a bucket hydroponics workshop – with a few easily accessible and non specialist pieces of equipment you can pick up at a hardware shop (a bucket and lid, rain gullies, piping and a pump) Ed demonstrated how to successfully grow mint in a vertical wall system with just water and nutrients, eliminating the need for soil and space. To read more about the project at the TATE Exchange click here.

Growing space

Gauging the success of building a temporary structure for growing at the TATE Exchange Green Lab has continued the project with a group of students and staff from Chelsea. We are in the process of developing an open-design and modular structure to grow both edible and foliage plants indoors. Throughout a series of workshop’s we have been designing an open source vertical ‘wall’. For this structure we began to consider a set of design parameters and considerations to ensure we are creating in a sustainably aware way. Modularity and open source have directed the design at each step of the process as well as a focus on material exploration and awareness.

We are now in the process of creating a methodology for design, building ‘Open-design lenses’ to act as a series of steps and considerations needed to achieve sustainable open design that’s accessible, collaborative and socially driven. To test our lenses we will create a number of short projects that innovate current urban systems, creating products and environments of change. The OD&M project is a 3 year project ending in December 2019, to find out more have a look here.