Microbial dyes have the potential to replace petrochemistry and to reduce and eliminate water-use and effluent in the manufacture of textiles. But beyond the chemistry, how do we develop the capacity to tell new stories with our material artefacts?
Commissioned and acquired by the Cooper Hewitt Museum, Assemblage 002 is a reversible silk coat designed and pattern cut to showcase the unique range of dye protocols we have developed in the laboratory. Each pattern piece has been dyed by pigment-producing bacteria mediated by our experimental approach of calibrating the growth conditions of the microbes. Having established these protocols, we can now replicate them, creating a reliable system to anticipate the outcome before the colour is grown. This makes it possible to sketch the mood of a collection based on known parameters and reproduce those sketches faithfully in the lab. No two garments will ever be the same, but we can begin to build coherence over the aesthetic experience of a collection.