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Engaging with materiality and colour through biocolourants

dried seaweed displayed in reds, yellows and greens
Diverse shades of natural materials and colours - seaweed dyed with biodyes. Credit: Department of Seaweed

To understand the diverse properties of colours and effects of colourants, it needs to be understood as a material in itself – with an agency of its own. In addition to its visual features, the chemical substances colourants are made of may change and fade over time. They can also impact on the environment and humans in many different and harmful ways, depending on their method of production. Our relationship with colours and the psychological impact colours have may also depend on the physical life cycle of dyes and colourants. How can all of these aspects be given equal value and consideration when we are thinking about colours?

The BioColour research project develops new knowledge, processes and solutions for biocolourant production, characterization and application. These steps are essential for making biocolourants a viable alternative to synthetic colourants. In this context, it is vital to also study the cultural, social and ethical aspects of biocolourants. The project aims to initiate discussions about the current position and wide-spread use of synthetic dyes. While products dyed with biocolourants might fade slightly and their colours may vary, these features could potentially become part of a novel asthetic that appreciates colour more holistically, as an unique and dynamic material feature. Ideally, this would position biocolourants as an obvious, appealing choice and a natural part of a sustainable lifestyle.

Event at Think Corner Helsinki

The BioColour project organizes a broad audience event on Monday August 17th, concentrating on different points of view on materiality and colour. Julia Lohmann, designer and Professor of Practice in Aalto University, is one of the project’s researchers and a speaker in the event. Lohmann’s approach on materials and colours goes well under the surface and bases on participation and co-speculation. She will present public engagement strategies and opportunities based on her practice-based research into natural materials and our relationship with the flora, fauna and ecosystems that sustain us. In addition to Lohmann’s speech on engaging and communicating with materiality and colour, the program features speech by Professor of Conservation Sciences Maarten van Bommel from University of Amsterdam about the non-permanent nature of natural colours applied in cultural heritage objects. Moreover Professor of Home Economics Minna Autio from Helsinki University discusses consumers’ views on packaging, materials and colours and Kai Lankinen, Executive Partner of Marvaco presents technologies increasing sustainability in packaging printing.

The multidisciplinary BioColour research project is coordinated by University of Helsinki and funded by the Strategic Research Council. The project represents scientists from ten different research units including Aalto Arts and Aalto Bio2. Aalto Arts –team, led by Julia Lohmann and Kirsi Niinimäki, studies biocolourants in a critical design context questioning established value systems and suggesting alternatives for sustainability, as well as in a design and industrial contexts, focusing on the new understanding of aesthetics and aesthetics of diversity.  Aalto Bio2 –team, led by Tapani Vuorinen and Monika Österberg, aims to explore the use of coloured components of lignocellulosics in textile colouration and gain fundamental understanding of the colouration phenomena starting from formation of colour to interactions between biocolourants and substrates, and to create functional materials with added value.

 

 

See the detailed info of the free “BioColour Splashes” -event, sign up for participating on the spot at Think Corner Helsinki or join via livestream:

https://biocolour.fi/en/biocolour-splashes-engaging-with-materiality-and-colour-2/

 

Follow the BioColour-project:

www.biocolour.fi

Twitter            @BioColourFi

Facebook        @BioColourFi

Instagram       @biocolour

Youtube           BioColour

two people in the foreground looking at dyed seaweed
Biodyed seaweed exhibited at World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos. Credit: World Economic Forum 2020

Written by: Riikka Alanko, Interaction Coordinator of the BioColour project, University of Helsinki

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