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Living Colour | Ruth Lloyd

Laboratory grown vivid pinks, a future for fashion where design and science collide.


+ Creator | Ruth Lloyd

+ Country | United Kingdom

+ Colour | Pink pigment producing bacteria

+ Challenge | Can living colour systems offer new solutions to the global reliance on toxic petroleum-based pigments and dyes?


Growing microbial pigments onto fabric

"In order to fully engage with any newly discovered colour system, a depth of knowledge must be acquired. Especially in the case of a living colour system, which has an agenda, a rhythm and life cycle of it's own, where it pays no attention to the desires of any designer or scientist wishing to engage with it, regardless of any collaborative intention." Ruth Lloyd

Future Colour | Ruth Lloyd

Ruth Lloyd is a textile-led design researcher, exploring sustainable, circular, and regenerative systems of colour. Luminary discovered her MA show at the Royal College of Art in 2020, and featured her work in our Issue 25 ACTIVATE story.

Luminary Issue 25 X Ruth Lloyd

Living Colour Systems | Microbial pigments

Ruth has developed her practice-based research focused on the creative potential of microbial pigments, investigating how these living colour systems present solutions and replacements to the global reliance on toxic petroleum-based colour and dye systems. She engages with design education, research & development, and industry partners within the context of Future Systems.

Ruth is currently undertaking the first creative residency at Colorifix, a UK based company pioneering the use of a biological process to produce, deposit and fix colours onto textiles.

Ruth's collaboration is focussing on bacterial dyes, exploring the capacity of colour producing microorganisms to create pigments for printing onto textiles.

Bacteria Textile Dye | Living Pink

As many of us know in the textile world, brilliant and vivid pink colours are produced from petro-chemical synthetic dyes. The pigments and powders we played with in the textile studio at Chelsea Art College years ago often came with hazardous labels and health warnings. And natural and botanical dyes can rarely produce such strong shades of pink, as plant based colours will often fade over time.

This is why we were so excited to find Ruth's lab-grown pink pigment, developed without toxic chemicals or excessive water waste. Her investigative research began with Streptomyces Coelicolor M520. This micro-organism naturally produces both a blue pigment, Actinorhodin and a red pigment, Undecylprodigiosin. This particular strain, M520, has been engineered so the blue pigment production is suppressed and the red pigment production has been amplified, offering a beautiful bold pink living pigment.

Liquid cultures + bacteria pigments

"Poetically the name Coelicolor means the colour of the heavens or the sky, appropriate when the main colour produced is blue, however since this particular strain produced a beautiful selection of reds, oranges, pinks and purples, perhaps the additional term 'Sunset Hues' is fitting." Ruth Lloyd

Liquid culture colour

"100 billion articles of clothing are made every year. This comes at a huge cost to the environment, from the raw materials used to the industrial processes that support production. By learning from nature, we can change the paradigm." Colorifix


Future Colour | Find out More

Ruth Lloyd

Instagram | @ruth_lloyd_design


Instagram | @colorifix_fashion


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