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a microbial journey

Lab in Progress

Bioleather clutch
Emma van der Leest

Lab in progress shows an ongoing research in development of circular and grown materials by microorganisms.

In Lab in Progress, Emma shows two current researches and a timeline of the past 7 years she has been working with scientists and designers in the field of biodesign. The integration of different microorganisms in the design process, from bacteria, algae, fungi and other cells.

One research is about cultivating a bacterial leather that is grown in a fermentation process. This leather can replace mammal leather and grows on residual waste streams. Emma is conducting research to coat this leather with a fungus that grows in symbiosis with the leather. For example, no harmful coatings need to be used and after use it can be fully composted. This research is conducted after Emma and her team (Radboud University) won the Bio Art & Design Award 2019.

Colored by Flavo is a research as part of her job in the Biobased Art & Design professorship. A collaboration between TU Delft, Avans and the Willem de Kooning Academy. These water bacteria grow a structure that produces a colour, this is the same principle as the feathers of a peacock and the shield of a beetle. Biotech company Hoekmine B.V. is assisting in the research and hopes to apply the bacteria as natural colorant on fabrics

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Emma van der Leest

Emma van der Leest runs her company for 5 years. Since she interned with Suzanne Lee (from BioCouture), she started to connect design and science together. Next to her own practice she founded BlueCity Lab, an experimental and prototyping workshop and lab in the former Tropicana water park in Rotterdam to lower the threshold for other designers to start working with biotech. Emma exhibited her work (inter)national and won several prices for her work.