Living Bacteria as a natural dye

Natsai Audrey Chieza works at the intersection of biology and design, and wants to show how living organisms can make sustainable materials

Silk dyed as part of Project Coelicolor   Toby Coulson

Silk dyed as part of Project Coelicolor

Toby Coulson


Designer Natsai Audrey Chieza has an unusual creative partner: the soil-dwelling bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor. Under the right conditions, S. coelicolor produces a pigmented compound, which Chieza uses to dye fabric and garments in patterned hues of pink, purple and blue. “It dyes textiles in a colourfast manner with barely any water and no chemicals,” Chieza says. “In many ways, that's the definition of a natural dye.”

Chieza has been working with her “companion species” since 2011 and this year launched Faber Futures, a London-based biodesign lab that aims to help other researchers and companies harness the power of living organisms to develop their own sustainable materials. “Project Coelicolor is a great way to say, ‘This is what we did with this micro-organism; let us help you figure out what to do with yours,’” she says

Regardless the industry, Chieza hopes that biodesign can lead the way to more sustainable means of production, helping manufacturers to shift away from petroleum-based materials, divest from fossil fuels and reduce waste. With Faber Futures, she is also keen to develop an ethical framework for working with living organisms. “If we can engineer life, that means science has become a design space," she says.

Dream Machine by Frank Kolkman

Dream Machine

Swarovski set a brief entitled ‘smart living’ exploring future thinking in design and technology.

Building on the work of artists from the 50s and 60s like Brion Gysin, Tony Conrad, Bernard Leitner and Ugo la Pietra -- the project attempts to create an immersive crystal 'dream machine'. By generating light and sound patterns that synchronize with alpha and theta brainwaves, the machine would allow individuals to enter a state of deep relaxation or ‘artificial dreaming’. It’s tapping into the notion of creating profoundly individual experiences that can't be easily captured or converted to other media. I like the idea of it being a type of immersive 'inside out chandelier'.


Future-Forecasting Trend: Cannabis in drinks.


With young consumers shifting their behaviour towards healthier lifestyle choices,

and the softening of opinion towards the use of Cannabis in soft drinks is there an opportunity for adult soft drinks?

Coca-Cola thinks so and is reportedly in talks with a Canadian company to create a cannabis-infused health drink since Canada has recently legalised the use of recreational cannabis on the 17th October 2018.

The soft drinks giant said it is "closely watching" the expanding use of a cannabis element in drinks.

It is said to be in talks with Aurora Cannabis to create a drink infused with cannabidiol, a naturally occurring non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, does not produce the high commonly associated with marijuana. It is believed by many to have anti-inflammation and pain-relieving properties and numerous CBD-infused products have emerged recently.

Aurora Elixirs is leading the way with natural ingredients infused with hemp extract and cannabinoids. Aurora Elixirs presents a brand that focuses on the transcendent experience of consuming ight doses of CBD in a safe vessel. Truly balanced, these tonics are marketed toward consumers that seek a refined and sensual experience.



Lagunitas is another player in the market. Their latest foray is a non-alcoholic, zero-calorie sparkling water infused with hops, CBD, THC, or both is called Hi-Fi Hops.

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Every 12oz can has no more than 10mg of marijuana-infused goodness, with drinks featuring CBD and THC, or the “purple” version featuring just THC. THC is the compound in cannabis that creates a mild-altering buzz, while CBD is a non-psychoactive component that is thought to reduce stress, pain and inflammation.


What looks like an emerging may become big business in the next few years.


Society cleaning products has an interesting

design strategy and a disruptive business model.

 Cleaning products are not usually display worthy in terms of graphic branding. Society is looking to change that with designs inspired by artists like Ellsworth Kelly and Josef Albers.

Society will operate through a membership model: Customers will pay a yearly fee of $99, enabling them to purchase a range of personal care and cleaning products that Society has formulated and designed.

Once you’re a member, you can begin purchasing items in the Society marketplace, which will be sold at cost. Society products will cost about half as much as other green products on the market; the average nontoxic counter spray on the market costs between $6.99 and $8.99; Society’s version will cost $4.99. Like many other marketplaces that have launched in recent years–from Brandless to Grove–Society’s products will only include natural microbes and enzymes, rather than synthetic chemicals.

Design for disassembly


UK based Technology company Kano is resisting the throw away culture of technology by teaching kids how to disasseble their technology. Each of Kano's kits first asks the user to build the hardware, then teaches them how to code on it, before celebrating the finished product – be that a game, artwork or piece of music – through the KanoWorld online community.

Lego-style ease of disassembly is so sacrosanct to the company as a design principle that, if a desirable feature were only achievable by gluing components together, that feature wouldn't make it into production.


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Ikea Space 10




What if a coffee bar could double up as your cab ride to your next meeting? Could a doctor’s appointment take place on the way to work? Imagine buying gifts en route to a party, or having fresh produce delivered to your door straight from the fields, or even explore virtual worlds on your way home.


Ikea’s futures lab, Space 10 has been tasked with looking at these future scenarios of driverless vehicles in the mid-future.


Spaces on Wheels looks at a very important future issue: urban transport. More specifically, how self-driving cars might change our surroundings. Starting with the very reasonable premise that ‘the day fully autonomous vehicles hit our streets is the day cars are not cars anymore,’ Space10 and f°am Studio have created seven different rolling frameworks to represent the wealth of options promised by this new technology. These consist of Flexible Workspace (a roaming shared space that is effectively an office on wheels); Coffee on the Go (a boutique rolling roastery); Healthcare (drug dispensary); Farm (a mobile farmers’ market); Play (a pod for augmented reality experiences); Hotel (a sleep station) and a shop.

Transport will be radically changed by autonomous technology and there a huge opportunities for progressive thinking companies and brands.

Healthcare trends


In our recent Healthcare report we noticed a few examples of brands offering more exotic sensory experiences. One brand that has been successful with this strategy is Nuun vitamins, which comes in effervescent tablet format in blueberry, pomegranate, tangerine and lime and ginger and lemonade. 

The brand has employed a clean modern typography to convey it's fresh approach and exotic flavours. 



Sidekicks / Let the Moment Happen

Designer: Mattheo Bandi


SIDEKICKS is a collection of fictional objects that aim to help us reduce the amount of phone usage. The objects are interventions in moments when smartphones are particularly distracting for us: a desk lamp for working, a speaker for leisure time, an alarm clock for the end of the day and a projector for watching a movie with someone. Rather than creating a new device or establishing a new behaviour to keep us away from the phone, the objects were re-designed with a particular feature: none of them has a switch on/off button; instead, they can only function whenever we physically leave our phones to them. 

More and more people everyday are willing to reduce the impact phones have on them, but it often turns out to be harder than expected. In this scenario, my goal is to reflect on the role interactive objects can play for and with us. The devices are, in fact, not only designed as tools to make us more productive or ease a process, but also as friendly companions to help us let the moment happen.



Designer Abbie: Fawcett 

University :UWE BRISTOL



There is currently a huge problem surrounding the disposal of cooking oils, with a lack of alternatives, many people are disposing of them by pouring them down the drain. This leads to blockages in pipes, homes flooding and the notorious fatbergs that have formed in the sewers of London. The costly measures used to prevent and remedy the damage caused by these blockages are ultimately billed to the householder. 


WOSH is an easy to use soap making machine, with intuitive features and sleek design. Aiming to prevent waste cooking fat, oil and grease from being poured down the drain by presenting the user with an incentive to up-cycle it into a desirable and useful by-product, natural soap.

It’s a quick, safe and fun way of recycling domestic waste. The design is focused on integrating into the user’s routine, the quantities required for one bar of soap can be collected within around 2-3 weeks, the soap can be made in 15 minutes and with a 4 week cure time, this total of 6-7 weeks is roughly how long it will take to use up a bar of soap. 

The waste oils are filtered to remove any food particles and turned into soap using a tailored method of traditional, natural soap making. The recipes include natural additives such as essential oils, seeds and petals, acting as a natural exfoliant and giving the soap a quality scent, lather and texture. Making natural soap whilst reducing waste has never been more simple, collect waste cooking oils, create natural soap with WOSH.


Boundaries of Control

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Chris Pearce

University of Brighton

BA (Hons) 3D Design + Craft

Pearce's project 'Boundaries of Control' uses a simple piece of equipment to hand blow waste plastic, celebrating the untamed and animated properties which we rarely see in everyday mass produced products. From this process, he has created a range of lighting sculptures that encourages to think about our use of plastic and the potential of what we throw away.