Bio-Couture

Is it possible to grow your own clothes?

This video from our friends at The Science Musuem explores whether it's possible to 'grow' clothing using bacteria.

Although cotton is already technically grown, it's costly to produce and has a significant impact on the environment. As an alternative, Suzanne Lee, a senior research fellow at Central St Martins, is producing cellulose material from a sweet tea-based solution containing a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

Lee is working with scientists at Imperial College London to overcome the current limitations of the finished product. One of the main challenges is the material's tendency to absorb large amounts of water, rendering it unsuitable for outdoor use. However, there is potential to modify bacteria genetically to produce materials which could one day be water-proof.

A fascinating blend of science and design, the project demonstrates the potential benefits of collaboration between the two disciplines in solving real-world problems. Although this project focuses primarily on clothing and fashion, it represents the beginning of a shift in the way we produce and consume materials.

You can find out more about this project via the Bio-couture blog or the Atenna section of The Science Museum website. Plus, watch Suzanne Lee present her TED fellow talk on the same subject.

Themes

Materials

Details

Type:
Documentary
People:
Suzanne Lee
Location:
London, UK
Published:
2011
Filmed:
2010

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