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Algae Colour | Why Colours Matter

The global design industry needs radical new solutions around the extraction, application and disposal of colour. As part of our ongoing studio research, we spotlight creators, innovators and colour specialists working toward kinder, wiser, regenerative ideas which may transform the future of colour and materials.


+ Creator | Anne-Marie Sust

+ Country | Germany

+ Colour | Microalgae Blue

+ Challenge | How can we produce beautiful colour for clothing that is water free and sustainable?


Microalgae ink

“Water is the most important component of our lives. This precious resource is finite. The practices of the fashion industry are among the most polluting on earth. It takes 2,700 litres of water just to make one new T-shirt. By 2025, more than 2.8 billion people in 48 countries will face water poverty or water scarcity.” Anne-Marie Sust

Future Colour | Anne-Marie Sust

Anne-Marie is a fashion designer, her practice sits at the intersection between urban design and ongoing material innovation research. In response to issues emerging due to the global climate crisis and the growing awareness around water usage in the fashion industry, Ann-Marie pushed her research toward using fashion processes to seek out new solutions in creating clothing for future consumers. During her MA she developed a technique of printing onto textiles using inks derived from organic microalgae, using waterless printing and laser cutting techniques.

In 2022, she won the Green Concept Award 2022 for the fashion category with her MA project ‘Why Colours Matter’. We featured Anne-Marie's work in Issue 26 in our ELEMENTAL story.

Luminary Issue 26 X Why Colours Matter

“Material scientists are harnessing the power of colour and mimicking the elemental processes found in nature, to capture sustainable colours in the lab. The weather and the atmosphere on Earth are changeable and fluid, water turns to clouds and rain turns to ice. We have come to expect rigid, colour perfection. It is time to investigate unstable, emotional, turbulent colours which shift and change throughout the day.” Anna Starmer, Luminary Issue 26

Luminary Issue 27 X Microalgae

Algae Ink | Why Colours Matter

Behind most new trend colours there is a dyeing process that is often harmful to the environment. Most black pigment in the world is generated from fossil fuels. Algae Ink is a revolutionary biorenewable ink which utilizes algae cells for pigments, making it safer and cleaner to work with.

‘Why Colours Matter’ is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Anne-Marie and natural science, resulting in a collection of ‘Microalgae’ colours. The algae-based paste can be used to print on textiles as a sustainable alternative to conventional highly toxic chemical colours.

Microalgae inks X 'Why Colours Matter’

We asked Anne-Marie ‘What is your favourite colour?’

“With its fresh and futuristic textile design, my master collection ‘Why Colours Matter’ primarily draws attention to the aesthetic colour diversity of microalgae. The colour card consists of six individually made microalgae colours. These colour pastes remind me of the element water. Consisting of an apocalyptic touch of powerful coldness like ‘Dark Blue’ and ‘Frosted Blue’ over fresh greens like ‘Deep Mint’ and ‘Bright Green’ to igniting sparkling ‘Matt Yellow’ and ‘Shady Yellow’.” Anne-Marie

Apocalyptic Colour | Toxic Dyes

The aim of this work is to sensitise the viewer to the temporary and sustainable nature of clothing. It should be noted that the colours change and fade when they come into contact with light. This property of the microalgae pigments is part of the design leitmotif of transience. Anne-Marie finds this organic process of the microalgae colours particularly aesthetic. The result of ‘Why Colours Matter’ is unique prints that not only look beautiful but also offer a transformative alternative to the theme of fast fashion.

Dyed with microalgae ink

“The interplay between fashion and water as a resource remains an important issue for our sustainable future. ‘Why Colours Matter’ is a visual stimulus project, by focusing on sustainable research with contemporary design, we can make a powerful new 'organic' solution for printing clothes sustainably.” Anne-Marie


Future Colour | Find out More

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