A British designer has turned soil bacteria into dye with her textile collection.

‘Faber Futures‘ is a textile project by Zimbabwe-born, London-based designer and researcher Natsai Audrey Chieza that uses traditional screen printing techniques – but with the dye and pattern created by soil bacteria. The innovative designer discovered that certain bacteria, taken from the soil in the roots of herbs such as tarragon and sage, would create different colors when cultured.

These uniquely created colors, which can range from deep blues to bright reds, can stain silk fabrics, and when these fabrics are actually placed in the culture, a similarly unique pattern is created as the microbes soak up the fabric. And this technique is more than just an interesting way to incorporate biotechnology into fashion; the use of bacteria to produce fabric dyes is sustainable as well, as the bacteria can be grown into ink ‘factories.’ As Chieza shared with Wired, she hopes to ultimately genetically modify bacteria to create programmable, proprietary colors and patterns for fashion houses.

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