Biofabrication In Fashion

Open BioFabrics
Jun 30, 2020 · 17 min read

🇬🇧 For the first time in France, players in the field of biofabrication applied to the fashion industry will meet in Paris at the international exhibition for fashion and textile innovation: Avantex, from 16 to 19 September 2019.
Let us present you to this event…

Image from the communication campaign: Biofabrication In Fashion, by Open BioFabrics // CC BY-NC Open BioFabrics

Welcome to this area dedicated to biofabrication in fashion.

A concept developed and designed by Open BioFabrics (France), realized with the participation of Pili (France), ScobyTec (Germany), Laura Luchtman from the Kukka & Ilfa Siebenhaar designstudio (The Netherlands), Atelier Sumbiosis (France), as well as Carolyn Raff Studios (Germany), who have so kindly lent their realization or cultivated prototypes or will come to Paris.

Special mention to Biofabricate (USA), Bolt Threads (USA), Neffa (The Netherlands), Studio Nienke Hoogvliet (The Netherlands), Jen Keane (USA), Roya Aghighi (Canada) who have visually contributed to showcasing the potential of biofabrication in the fashion sector.

To provide an overview of the discipline a state of the art, designed by Open BioFabrics, will be presented in chronological form. Biotechnology companies, biodesigners or biohacking communities will illustrate this rich adventure in innovative projects.

Biofabrication In Fashion // © Messe Frankfurt

What is biofabrication?

Initially, biofabrication is a research field that has fostered the development of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (1) . Although it is a recent discipline since it was born by the end of the 2000’s its fast growth has encouraged some scientists like Gabor Forgacs and Wei Sun to reassess its definition in an article (2) published in 2016. Biofabrication keeps on gaining popularity thanks to cheapest equipment and more efficient techniques. These two factors allow faster, cheaper and easier prototyping.

For about 15 years, biofabrication has been entering new spheres and its definition also changes along innovations. In this way, in 2014 the yearly summit of biofabrication applied to design “Biofabricate” considered biofabrication as

“a world where bacteria, yeasts, mycelium, algae and mammalian cells develop and form together new durable materials”.

Today Biofabricate suggests the following definition:

“The production of living and non-living complex biological products from raw materials such as living cells and molecules”.

A definition that may sound quite obscure.

Defining biofabrication remains a challenge, especially because both scientific rigor and the designer’s semantics need to be understood by everyone. Since the definition exercise is not an easy task, come and discover its examples. This area offers you an overview of what can be done with biology applied to design while taking durability into account. Biofabrication is an area under research and development (for the large majority of projects).

Here nothing is not to buy, everything is to be discovered.

So let yourself be guided. Keep your mind and your eyes open because new processes are most likely to shape the fashion landscape of tomorrow.



Photo General view of the Pili installation // © Messe Frankfurt

Twitter: @_PILIbio

The cellular factories of colors

Living beings do not need oil to produce color efficiently. Unlike fossil resources, such as oil, which generates a lot of pollution and causes a lot of damage to ecosystems, microorganisms transform matter cleanly and efficiently with their enzymes. The molecules produced in this way are sometimes very interesting for humanity, such as dyestuffs, which we need in many sectors, especially to dye our clothes.

Since 2015, PILI has been working on the creation of the first cellular color factories to produce ecological dyes on a large scale. It is fermentation that allows micro-organisms to deconstruct renewable materials such as sugar or wood and rebuild them into dyes. This process, at the heart of the biotechnology revolution, is paradoxically quite old: our ancestors already used fermentation to make beer, and from the 21st century onwards, PILI transposes this ancestral know-how to modern biology to brew color. With a lower energy balance, since the enzymes of these microorganisms operate at room temperature, without toxic solvents, all requiring much less water and energy than petrochemicals.

To meet the challenge of large-scale production of ecological dyestuffs, PILI has set up a multidisciplinary team that brings together biology, green chemistry and design, in close collaboration with dye manufacturers and brands that wish to accelerate the ecological transition. PILI’s laboratories are located in Toulouse (TWB, Toulouse White Biotechnology) and Paris (CNAM, Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers). This innovation has been awarded. Many times, notably at the BPI World Innovation Competition, of which PILI was one of the winners in 2016 and 2017.

Groundbreaking PILI, leader in the production of biotech dyes, secures additional $4million to accelerate the development of its products.

Scoby Tec with Scoby Tec BNC


Photo Business handbag made with ScobyTec BNC by ScobyTec // © ScobyTec

Instagram: @scobytec
Twitter: @ScobyTec

ScobyTec will present the prototype of a business handbag with storage compartments for smartphones and tablets made of purified and refined ScobyTec BNC, which represents the latest development of ScobyTec BNC.

About ScobyTec

ScobyTec develops alternative materials based on bacterial cellulose to make leather substitutes, fibers as substitutes for cotton products and wood-based viscose, bioplastics and composites through biofabrication. Bacterial cellulose has unique material properties and offers decisive advantages for versatile applications.

We provide scalable process engineering and refining methods that are energy efficient and location independent.

Our goal is to bring to the market a truly sustainable biofabricated material at the same cost-benefit ratio with the same qualitative characteristics as conventional leather, textiles and plastics.

Scoby tec participated in EFIB (The European Forum for Insdustrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy) from 30 september to 2 october 2019 in Brussels.

Project Living Colour is a collaboration between Laura Luchtman from Kukka studio and Ilfa Siebenhaar from Ilfa Siebenhaar designstudio

The Netherlands

Photos of Living Colour by Laura Luchtma and Ilfa Siebenhaar // © Laura Luchtman

Instagram: @livingcolourcollective

Living Colour is a dyeing innovation by Dutch designers Laura Luchtman of studio Kukka and Ilfa Siebenhaar that uses pigment-producing bacteria to colour textiles and other materials.

Living Colour offers a viable alternative to synthetic dyes; the biodegradable dyes can be produced with far less water and energy and without hazardous chemicals or pollution. In addition to ecological benefits, the dyes can be applied to myriad fibres: natural, synthetic, recycled fibres and fibre blends.

Growing bacteria as a dye factory can lead to a sustainable way to colour the world.

Laura Luchtman

Instagram: kukkadesign

Kukka is a design studio for textiles, surface design and material research, led by Laura Luchtman. Kukka works with brands and manufacturers to create products and collections that translate client identities and needs into tactile textile form.

In addition to designing and art direction for brands around the world, Kukka initiates experimental research, ranging from material explorations to biodesign, like dyeing textiles with bacteria that produce pigment.

With over 10 years of experience in commercial textiles and fashion, Kukka is committed to contribute to a new system, one that treats the planet and its inhabitants with respect and care. By creating thought-provoking approaches to textile design, colour, production and consumption Kukka aspires to change our perception and to open possibilities for a more sustainable industry.

Kukka’s vision for a sustaining future is one that is circular, renewable and biobased.

Ilfa Siebenhaar

Instagram: by_ilfa_siebenhaar

Ilfa is a fashion and textile designer with a focus on environment and innovation. She creates designs between fashion, textile and biodesign with a strong focus on future design thinking. She doesn’t follow the rules of traditional design, she rather follows the potential of the material and the resources she works with to see how she can use these in a better or alternative way.

She studied fashion design at Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam with a minor in Sustainability. During her study her ambition to create and grow her own materials started. As part of her graduation in 2017 she developed a toolbox prototype that allows other creative minds to set up a portable bacteria dyeing-lab.

Her designs can be translated in very practical processes and concepts sprouting from material research with influences from science and philosophical themes.

Read more about the cymatics research project and dyeing process in this open-source publication, available for free on Issuu.

Atelier Sumbiosis with Spiruwhell


Photo Spiruwheel, a small laboratory showcasing spirulina and natural resources used in the diffusion dye extraction process on textile yarns, by Atelier Sumbiosis © Véronique Huyghe

Instagram: @atelier.sumbiosis

Atelier Sumbiosis is a research laboratory that brings textile, science and design know-how together.

In nature, symbiosis is the association of living organisms to ensure the reproduction of their species. Drawing their inspiration from this durable union, the projects of Atelier Sumbiosis inted to apply a treatment to a fabric in a symbiotic way. Thanks to innovative concepts compatible with our environment, experimental and collaborative projects make it possible to embody new fantasized realities by taking full advantage of the constraints resulting from the hazard of scientific research.


To avoid synthetic colorings commonly used in the dyeing process, the Spiruwheel concept invites the dyeing artisan to see the chromatic circle in a new light through a coloring bio-resource: spirulina. Spirulina contains three main pigments: green (chlorophyll), red (carotenoids) and blue (phycocyanin). This fast growing micro-algae requires only few water and can be cultivated locally in urban areas.

After going through a re-reading of the traditional dyeing recipes along with the dyeing workshop of the Manufacture des Gobelins (Paris, France), the dyeing artisan could bring his own knowledge and savoir-faire to this new resource. A new method of cold dyeing by diffusion on wool fiber was born from this collaboration.

In order to support research on Spiruwheel, a small scale laboratory make available all the natural resources needed to experiment on this durable dyeing method. A usage scenario make it possible to arrange one’s own spirulina dyeing recipe and to soak a wool fabric in the preparation. Then, the samples are hung so that the dyeing can diffuse on the fabric. This small laboratory is a research tool with pedagogical value. Thanks to the organization of workshops it allows to raise awareness both among the artisans and the amateurs about the dyeing by diffusion method.

Today the Atelier Sumbiosis keeps on cultivating and extracting coloring molecules of spirulina within the communautary laboratory La Paillasse (Paris, France) and works on a brand new Spiruwheel color chart to point out the color variations of this bio-material.

Spiruwheel partnerships

  • Sylvie Cikalleshi, dyeing Workshop Manager at the Manufacture des Gobelins
  • Amance Corat, Algaculture Project Manager at the CEVA (Center of Study and Processing of Algae)

The atelier Sumbiosis organizes seminars and offers its biodesign consulting services for professionals in the textile sector, as well as workshop offers for all audiences from October 2019.
For more information: atelier.sumbiosis(at)

Carolyn Raff with Carolyn Raff Studio


Photo an_ocean_full_of_opportunities by Carolyn Raff Studio // ©Messe Frankfurt

Instagram: @an_ocean_full_of_opportunities

Carolyn Raff Studio is a multidisciplinary design studio, based near Stuttgart. The focus is on creating sustainable solutions for Textile and Fashion Designers with unique natural materials.

An ocean full of opportunities“ is a research project about the usage of different types of algae and algae based products to create sustainable sequins. The complete biodegradable biopolymer is mainly made from Agar Agar, an algae based gelatin substitute. It can be produced in a variety of shades, structures and looks. The bioploymer can be dyed with natural dyed like carmine, turmeric and algae dyes such as astaxanthin and phycocyanin. The 3-dimensional sequins are a product of this experimental approach on finding sustainable options for fashion.

Carolyn Raf Studio participated in the Biodesign Here Now exhibition organized during the London Design Festival by Open Cell London ! Presented as “the event for Biodesign, the future of materials, manufacturing, architecture & fashion. This exhibition will give a first taste of the field of Biodesign — from sustainable pollination to grown fashion to personal medicines”, by its organizers.

Biofabricate with Biofabricate 2018

United States of America

Promotional video Biofabricate 2018 // © Biofabricate

Instagram: @biofabricate
Twitter: @Biofabricate_

Biofabricate was founded in 2014. Our team of designers and bioengineers combines 45 years of deep expertise in material innovation and biofabrication. We’ve worked on the inside at start-ups and in the biotech and consumer industries. We are singularly situated to support leading brands, organizations, and companies — revealing how design can leverage biology as a technology to create more sustainable products. We translate what we’ve learned along the way, in house and in industry, to bring about a material revolution and a more sustainable future for all.

Biofabricate consists of three pillars: Design, Consult, Learn. Under our ‘Learn’ pillar we run the annual Biofabricate summit, which is focused on ‘grown’ materials at the intersection of design, biology, and technology. We nurture collaboration in the biofabrication field, share knowledge with other industries, build community, and accelerate innovation. The summit is the leading platform for the emerging consumer biotech industry to provide updates, unveil prototypes, and launch new products.

The 2019 Summit will take place on December 5th in London! This is a first, since previous editions were held in New York (USA). You can buy your tickets on the biofabricate website. This is a unique opportunity to discover the latest advances in the field of biofabrication, in addition to a series of conferences with representatives of companies and start-ups.

Bolt Threads with Mylo

United States of America

MYLO by Bolt Threads // © Bolt Threads

Instagram: @boltthreads

Mycelium is the branching underground structure of mushrooms. It grows as tiny threads that form vast networks under the forest floor.

We developed MyloTM from mycelium cells by engineering it to assemble into a supple yet durable material that has the potential to biodegrade and can replace real and synthetic leather.

MyloTM can be produced in days versus years, a process that minimizes our environmental impact.

MYLO TM DRIVER BAG, This driver bag is the first commercially-available bag made with MyloTM in collaboration with Chester Wallace. The bag was fully-funded through a Kickstarter campaign in October 2018.

Neffa with Myco Tex

The Netherlands

Video NEFFA Fashion Show 2017 at Avantex Paris, Messe frankfurt

Instagram: @neffa_nl

MycoTEX develops custom-made clothes made from compostable mushroom roots!
There are 7,5 billion people on this planet that all need to be clothed. Many of us enjoy fashion and trends, but the clothes that we get rid of are a big problem. For MycoTEX we went to the root of the problem. MycoTEX creates sustainable fabric from mycelium, the roots of mushrooms. With our 3D-modelling process we create seamless garments of this new textile that perfectly fit your body without the need to cut and sew! Our shorter supply chain eliminates the need for chemicals and pesticides. We reduce water usage by 99,5% and local production is reducing transport. We only grow what we need and have no textile waste during the production phase. And AFTER wearing, you can simply bury your garment in the ground and it will naturally decompose.

In 2020 Neffa would like to develop a Pilot Collection to test our Shorter and Sustainable Fashion production chain on a small scale. If you like MycoTEX and would like to help, we are looking for funding to take this next step. You can support here.

Jen Keane with This is grown

United States of America

This is grown by Jen Keaneby // © Jen Keane

Instagram: @_jenkeane_

This is grow is the culmination of Jen Keane’s master’s work. It was driven by a frustration with plastics and a visible disparity between scientific research and design manifestations around ‘natural’ materials. Taking an organism-driven approach to material design, Jen Keane manipulated the growing process of k. rhaeticus bacteria, to employ it in a new form of ‘microbial weaving’. The process optimizes the natural properties of bacterial cellulose to weave a new category of hybrid materials that are strong and lightweight, and allows the potential for entire patterns and products to be designed and grown to shape with little or no wastage.

She grew the upper of a shoe to show how this could affect the way we make products in the future. The upper is grown in a single piece with no sewing and one continuous yarn held into place by the cellulose produced by the bacteria.

The really interesting part will come when we employ synthetic biology to control what the microbes produce and how and where they grow them. But as we begin to exercise our new knowledge of nature to try and solve our material problems we have to question what is natural really, and accept that we may not actually be collaborating with nature anymore but controlling it.

Jen keane has participated at Creative Residency at Bolt Threads, an immersive and hands-on experience. Residents have the opportunity to work with Bolt’s world class team and have access to incredible technology, tools, and people.
A new season is announced for Spring 2020, start here.

Roya Aghighi with Biogarmentry


photo biogarmentry by Roya Aghighi // © Roya Aghighi

Instagram: @biogarmentry

The adoption of fast fashion has had disruptive effects on environmental, social and behavioural factors globally. The drastic increase to the environmental impacts of textile waste and fast fashion consumption urgently need to be addressed. Making less wasteful clothes is no longer enough; we need to restructure the fundamentals of our global/economic fashion industry beginning with the destructive nature of our current mainstream relationship to clothing. This dynamic has significant consequences. Fashion consumption has become a passive act, and we no longer care for the longevity of our clothing. Clothing Is often disposed long before it reaches its expected life. The negative impacts of textile and fashion industry are far greater than what is known or can be seen on the surface. From the 500,000 toxic nano-fibres that are released into water every time we wash our clothes, to the enormous carbon emissions emitted through both the production and disposal of our clothing, fashion has become a compromise that comes at a huge human, social, and environmental cost. Currently it is estimated that textile waste will contribute to more than a quarter of the carbon budget associated with a 2C pathway by year 2050 thats is greater than all international airline flights and maritime shipping trips combined. We are all part of this systemic violence through the clothes we buy, wear and discard. So how can we engage and empower ourselves to make a significant change in this matter? This drastic increase to the environmental impacts of textile waste and fast fashion consumption urgently need to be addressed. Fundamental changes, reconsiderations and active thinking are required in order to make a deep impact. Textile utilization has become an unconscious act.

What if our clothes were alive and photosynthesized?

What if living organisms are simply the new materials? And if this becomes a part of the reality how would it change our relationship to materials such as textiles? How would it change our behaviour towards fashion?
Biogarmentry, is a transdisciplinary collaboration of synthetic biology, material science and design as a way to open up possibilities for the future of fashion. In order to tackle the complex issue of textile and fashion industry the project has found a special condition in clothing that users would connect to: a living textile that is capable of photosynthesizing. Biogarmentry works on implementing a deeper and more holistic idea of change, creating a new material while focusing on transformation of our values, goals and collective behaviours around our consumption oriented habits capable of lowering waste and carbon emissions. Born from a collaboration with AMPEL Lab and Botany Lab both from The University of British Columbia, the textile is a living- breathing material whose cellular respiration converts carbon dioxide into oxygen as plants do. By making textiles alive, clothes will become both physically and mentally present in user’s conscious and entice them to experience clothing in different ways.

Through these novel experiences, users will start to associate new meanings to clothing and build unique relationships with living garments. Since the life cycle of the living photosynthetic textile is directly dependent on how it is taken care of, caring for clothes would regain ascendance as a crucial part of the system while encouraging users to actively embrace habits that work to support the living textile to flourish. Biogarmentry ultimately introduces a shift from traditional models of buy, use, and dispose to buy, care, and compost. Moreover, since keeping the garments alive needs effort, users would buy less to manage to keep them alive. This helps to slow down the textile consumption and fast fashion.

This project proposes the design of a photosynthetic textile not only as a step towards limiting our negative contributions to the environment, also offers an entry point to public for speculating on future of textiles. By looking at materials as building blocks of design process, we can open up possibilities for alternative systems of production and consumption. Could a textile live and breath, clean the air while worn on the body? Can we learn to care for our clothes in ways that keeps them alive so they can reach their full utilization potential? Can an innovative textile generate a momentum for radical thinking?

Now in a world where textile are alive, how would it change you relationship to your clothing?

The Biogarmentry project was shortlisted for Sustainable Design of the Year at the Dezeen Award 2019. Based on her latest Instagram post, some important news is coming, so stay tuned.

Open BioFabrics with state of the art


Photo: State of the art: Biofabrication In Fashion by Open Biofabrics //Open Biofabrics CC BY-NC

Website :
Instagram: @openbiofabrics

Open BioFabrics started in 2015 in France with the experimentation of bacterial cellulose culture thanks to the work: BioCouture by Suzanne Lee. Since then we have developed production systems for bacterial cellulose, combined its new biotechnologies and ancestral know-how, shared our know-how and knowledge in open-source… Rich from these experiences, today Open BioFabrics still shares its knowledge on the biofabrication sector on the networks as well as during workshops and conferences to inform professionals and the general public.

This state of the art work continues to be enriched for new events. Contact us to work together: contact(a)

The field of biofabrication goes beyond fashion alone. This evolution of thinking design with the living totally changes our relationship to the production and use of objects. If you want to know more about the premise of biofabrication in design, then explore: Suzanne Lee. De BioCouture à … (en 🇲🇫) and if you want to know about the latest advances in the field, read our articles. #MangoMaterials #Nanollose #Algiknit #EcoCouture …

A huge thank you to all those involved in biofabrication who trusted us for this event. You rock! We hope that this moment will open new perspectives for your growth.

(1) ISBN: 978–1–4557–2852–7
(2) doi:10.1088/1758–5090/8/1/013001
(3) by

Open BioFabrics

Let’s share knowledge and know-how about biomaterials in 🇬🇧 & 🇲🇫

Open BioFabrics

Written by

Grow biofabrics together

Open BioFabrics

Let’s share knowledge and know-how about biomaterials Welcome to the world of biofabrication, biomaterials and collaboration between organisms. (articles in 🇬🇧 & 🇲🇫)

Open BioFabrics

Written by

Grow biofabrics together

Open BioFabrics

Let’s share knowledge and know-how about biomaterials Welcome to the world of biofabrication, biomaterials and collaboration between organisms. (articles in 🇬🇧 & 🇲🇫)

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