Green Lab are excited to announce the opening of a Fab City Hub in London.
The Fab City initiative is leading and enabling a shift away from the industrial paradigm of Product-in Trash-out in the context of urban environments, specifically how cities tend to function. The intiative is driven by a need to enable the return of manufacture to cities supported by a locally productive citizens developing and creating products for local needs, producing food, materials and energy locally; minimising waste and generate a greater sense of self worth and awareness of sustainable circular systems.
Green Lab hosted the a launch event and open workshop on the 28th November 2019 with over 40 participants from diverse backgrounds working collectively to try to answer three key questions relevant to development of Fab City London.
Who is critical for the development of Fab City London and why?
What are the stakeholders agendas in relation to Fab City London?
Special thanks goes to Tomas Diez, Skyping in from Colombia to introduce and open the proceedings, talking through the Fab City Stack.
Green Lab has committed to host regular meetups through a newly formed group designed to bring together the Fab City London Collective in 2020 – join to be part of the conversation and keep informed of what’s happening at the Fab City Hub in Green Lab.
Research resident Midushi Kochhar tells of her experience working at the Lab and exhibiting at this years London Design Festival, 2019.
‘I spent 12 weeks at Green Lab as part of their research residency program, working in the Material Lab to experiment and create alternative material solutions, with a focus on food waste and biobinders. The project was part of my final M.A. Industrial Design studies at Central St. Martins, UAL and therefore was both challenging and exciting at the same time.
The research started by testing some initial recipes from Materiom, and after a lot of trial and error, I was able to derive my own concoctions that seemed promising. The team at Green Lab were always available to provide their input and feedback and the open-minded, multidisciplinary community played a crucial role in the way the project was framed. Continuous, casual and engaging discussions were a part of our daily routine there and the material lab gave me the right space and time to conduct my experiments.
Kate Krebs said that “Waste is really a design flaw.”, a statement I agree with and ethos that directed my final outcomes. Therefore, on the quest for creating sustainable products, the project concentrated on a conscious material driven approach to upcycling food waste. Traditional resources are finite and expensive but waste is abundant and cheap. Identifying the by-products of the poultry industry and reimagining them in new contexts, I conceived an original and tangible collection called Eggware.
Made from waste eggshells that I collected from cafes around King’s Cross, Eggware products are biodegradable and locally made. The disposable tableware is ergonomically enhanced to support the act of eating whilst standing in a street food scenario. Once their use and function is over, you can literally crush and throw them in the compost as they are designed to degrade.
This project drives a positive change through value addition to a classed waste resource, spreading awareness and revising the common perception about discarded materials.
It was both fun and challenging to develop the material recipe for Eggware, but having gone through that process it enabled me to fully understand the material properties. The material is porous, naturally fire retardant and has a course texture, meaning it can be used for various applications, including interior wall panels, plant pots, high-end home décor objects and even construction material.
Designing and mastering material making can take years of research and development, but I am happy with the outcomes that I have achieved so far. I wish to continue my research to make Eggware more robust and long lasting. Eggware is now being displayed at various material libraries around London and with the support of Green Lab, was showcased as part of London Design Festival at Biodesign Here Now and the V&A Exhibition Road Day of Design.
I was pleased to have some really interesting conversations with well-informed and inquisitive people and was excited to share my learning and knowledge with them. Having recently graduated from university, these exhibitions gave me the opportunity to be more visible to a wider audience and gauge feedback from people from both design and non-design backgrounds. I am proud to have been part of design shows that highlight future thinking and I am grateful to Green Lab for fostering sustainability driven ventures that are determined to make a difference.’
The lemon project was a collaboration between Seedlip, Lyaness and Green Lab, developed by our Material Lab curator and researcher Anoushka Cole. With a shared passion for fighting the battle against food waste and championing closed loop design, the lab set about to utilise the citrus waste that the bar produced daily.
Taking the lemon husks from there in-house freshly squeezed lemon juice, Anoushka created a bespoke recipe to turn this waste into coasters, for Lyaness to use once again back at the bar. Through a process of research and development and working directly with the Lyaness team to give hands on feedback we successfully produced a series of 100% organic and biodegradable lemon coasters that could be used multiple times.
The project weaves an important narrative of reutilising our ‘waste’ into something of value that also demonstrates a circular design system. By changing the notion of what a luxury experience should involve we are bringing waste to the front of the establishment and demonstrating its beautiful potential.
“Seedlip is a Nature Company on a mission to change the way the world drinks with the highest quality non-alcoholic options.” This project is Volume 1, in a 4 part sustianability series in collaboration with them. Over the next year we will be producing similar projects, highlighting how the food and drinks industry has the potential to change the publics perception of waste.
Lyaness is a bar located at the Sea Containers created by multi award winning Ryan Chetiyawardana AKA Mr Lyan. The bar is dedicated to showcasing incredible ingredients rather than just cocktails. This notion is taken a step further with the introduction of the lemon coasters, showcasing lemons in an entirely new way.
If you have a project in mind that you would like to discuss with us please get in touch at email@example.com
Over the past 3 years Green Lab has been involved in an ongoing european funded project – Open Design & Manufacturing (OD&M). This project has involved a consortium of 10 other institutions including Higher education, Businesses and Maker spaces, working together on projects that focus on knowledge exchange and the notion of open design and manufacturing.
What is OD&M:
‘OD&M is a Knowledge Alliance dedicated to create and support communities of practices around the Open Design & Manufacturing paradigm, making the most of openness, sharing and collaboration to create new value chains of innovation in design and manufacturing oriented to the social good.
We are a community of students, university professors, researchers, makers, entrepreneurs and OD&M practitioners distributed across Europe and China. We pursue multi-disciplinarity, horizontal collaboration, challenge-based working and collective discovery as the salient features of empowering learning environments leading to social innovation in design and production.’
Projects that Green Lab has developed as part of the consortium:
Growing space + Recycled plastics project
We initially took part in the Growing Space project exhibited at Arts Work of the Future at the Tate Exchange, a project developed in collaboration with students & staff from the UALDigital Maker Collective. Following on from this we ran a co-design workshop based brief to build upon the initial ideas generated for the TATE exchange exhibit. The second stage of this project investigated open source and flat pack furniture, end of life materials, urban agriculture and sustainable food systems. After multiple co-design workshops where ideas of accessiblity, modularity, sustainability and feasibility were all explored, alongside various idea generation and prototyping exercises the group focused on working with recycled food safe plastics to develop planters that could be used to grow food hydroponically.
We ran a 12 week live brief with 12 students from MA Industrial Design, UAL. This was an open design for sustainable living project which explored how open design-led processes can be used to develop future products, materials, new processes or services that use algae as the core material. The project gave students the chance to work hands on with algae as a material as well as speculate its future potential. We developed a temporary Material Lab at Green Lab for the students to utilise during this period, conducting material research and experimentation.
After the success of the Future Algae brief – we saw the potential need for a material laboratory enabling students and designer makers to work in the realm of material research. We built the lab from old industrial kitchen equipment and developed a messy space for experimentation that could easily be cleaned at the end of each use. With future materials and the development of open source recipes becoming a growing area of concern for many practitioners we see the material lab as a vital space for a community of like minded designers to grow and collaborate. The material library is a catalogue of various sustainable material samples, collected from both small scale makers and industry. The library is a tool to inform, inspire and encourage users to consider material choices at the starting point of designing a product.
With the launch of our Material Lab we offered 3 students access to the space as part of an open source research residency.
Midushi Kochhar Midushi was an MA Industrial Design student at CSM, UAL whilst taking part in the research residency. She utilised the opportunity to work on her project – A Waste Project – using waste eggshells and chicken feathers from the poultry industry to produce biodegradable single use tableware. Frustrated by the single use plastics epidemic Midushi combined her waste resources with various algaes to develop 100% organic composite materials. At the end of her residency she shared the recipe & method she had developed whilst using the material lab.
Riina Oun Riina Oun, an MA Material Futures student from CSM, UAL, took part in our research residency with the aim to develop a vegan leather alternative. With an established career as leather glove maker, Riina wanted to find a more sustainable material that could offer the same properties as gloving leather. Using bacterial cellulose to grow her own material Riina utilised the lab to grow large quantities of Kombcuha Scoby, which was then turned into a composite material by adding a bio binder. Riina shared the recipe and method she developed whilst using the material lab via our wiki.
Valentina Dipietro Valentina was an MA Textile Design student from the RCA whilst taking part in the research residency. She utilised the opportunity to continue working on her final project – mychrome – growing mycelium with agricultural waste to create interior surface panels. Mycelium is the root system of mushrooms and can be grown on waste organic substrates and it offers great properties for both thermo insulation and sound insulation. Mycelium requires a sterilised and controlled environment to grow, which the material lab offered. Valentina shared the recipe and method she developed whilst utilising the material lab via our wiki.
Caroline Wood, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield (studying parasitic weeds that infect food crops) attended the Circular Economy Club’s event hosted at our openhouse in May, to learn more about the labs involvement in the current bioplastic debate. Since, Caroline has continued her research and published an interesting article on whether bioplastics are the answer to tackling the growing single use plastic issue.
In her feature Are bioplastics the solution to plastic waste?, Caroline lists the different types of bioplastics available and describes their composition. She provides some transparency on how bioplastics are recycled and composted, an area that is increasingly coming into question – with some bioplastics requiring specialist facilities, separate to the recycling of conventional plastics. Moreover, she compares the environmental footprint of bioplastics with the impact of conventional plastics, with some bioplastics using raw materials, putting equal pressure on sea and land resources.
For this reason, Caroline advocates that it would be better to use waste materials for bioplastic production instead of creating a new need for resource intensive raw materials. By doing this, most of these waste materials would be available to the public. Caroline explains that “locally-produced, abundantly available waste materials […] [offer] the chance to move plastic production from large corporations to community ventures”. Caroline also met with Green Lab residents Materiom whilst at the event. Materiom are an online open source database that share bioplastic recipes and therefore encourage anybody to create their own bioplastic materials. An important area of there research includes utilising waste materials as a resource, as well as localised manufacture and recipes that can be adapted to suit location.
However, for bioplastics to become mainstream, there are many challenges to overcome. One example Caroline mentions is the possible food allergies linked to some bioplastics’ raw materials, with some ingredients containing gluten for example, having a negative affect on individuals with coeliac disease.
In conclusion, the real issue is our single-use society. The most effective and sustainable way to move forward would be to reduce and reuse certain products and materials, with bioplastics acting as an alternative option only when reusing items is unachievable – ie the medical industry.
Candyce is a design and material researcher who is also a baker and fermenter. She has now her Local Forms project to the Lab. Having done her masters in Material Futures at Central Saint Martins, many of her projects are often driven and dictated by materials.
Her current project, Local Forms, rose from the constant daily battle of having to work with bad quality proving baskets. A banneton, also known as a proving basket, is integral to the process of making bread and as a practising baker she is in contact with them on a daily basis. The dough proves in the banneton over night before it’s turned out, dusted off and baked in the oven.
The bannetons currently used in most artisan bakeries are either made from wood pulp or woven from wicker. There is an outcry for objects to be made from more reliable sources and materials. Currently there is a big conversation amongst the baking community around how the quality of the wood pulp banneton has dropped over the years. To kickstart the project Candyce reached out to bakers across the country : both home bakers and bakers on a larger scale. Her mission was to understand the relationship between baker and banneton.
An important fact came up through this research : most, if not all, wood pulp bannetons are made in Germany by a large company, who are not very approachable. They have claimed that nothing has changed about their banneton production, but bakers who use and rely on them on a daily basis argue otherwise. This gave Candyce the motivation to explore and tap into current UK waste streams aiming to bring the banneton back, stronger and more local than the previous years.
While exploring with bio plastics and coffee waste (that was being collected from the cafe which is part of the bakery where she works) she stumbled into the realm of mycelium. Being a home grower of vegetables, she wondered what it would be like to ‘grow’ a banneton. Mycelium is an amazing organism that finds nutrients from what we deem as waste. Through this new found interest and awe in the mycelium kingdom Candyce’s project became about how we can localise and grow bannetons from the local waste.
The ‘Myco-farm’ started off in a very domestic setting : a room in the house and wasn’t too successful during the winter months due to lack of temperature control and contamination. It was put on hold for a bit while she took part in the BioHack Academy at the WAAG in Amsterdam. While doing the 10 week course, amongst loads of other tings, she learnt basic lab etiquette and but also had the time to teach herself about cultivating mycelium on a very small and sterile scale.
On returning back to London her current challenge is to get the mycelium growing strong enough to not have to be in a completely sterile environment and is now also experimenting with different shapes and materials that the mycelium will grown in.
One major factor of this project is the cost. From the get go it was essential that the project cost a minimal as possible, from the mycelium starters to the substrate that the mycelium is grown on. So far everything is collected locally, coffee and flour waste from the bakery that Candyce works at, saw dust and wood chip from a local carpenters.
As with everything that is grown, it’s impossible to tell if its successful right away. LocalForms has become a game of patience and waiting, a bit like baking.
Sneha Solanki is an alumnus of our research residency programme. She is from the A to Z Unit, a “culinary research facility with a mission to map, investigate and interact with food systems and ecologies.” During her time at Green Lab, Sneha worked on her MICRO_FOOD project through which she is building a library of micro-organisms. Sneha believes that micro-organisms need to be acknowledged for their hard work which often goes uncredited in our food systems. Sneha developed extensive diagrams and maps of the library, focussing around the themes of Infrastructure, Interchange and Exchange. In her preliminary research, Sneha adopted a multi-disciplinary approach and spoke to experts in each one of her 3 grand themes.
Exchange – Sneha collaborated with Kate Rich from Feral Trade (an art project/grocery business experiment). “Kate offered thoughts on workable and sustainable economic methods and models whilst also discussing scale. A project of this nature doesn’t offer the usual economic ethos of ‘scale’ or ‘scaling-up’ but does offer one where scale moves in a horizontal or a ‘network’ format.”
Interchange – Sneha spoke with participatory artist and consultant Alexia Mellor about the design of the library. Conversations included working towards a travelling library which could reach the “commons”, a DIWO approach (‘do it with others’) and how library might translate into a workshop setting.
Infrastructure – Sneha worked with Dr. Sarah Jayne Boulton, a Biomedical Sciences Researcher from the University of Newcastle with an interest in stress pathways and energy generation in cells. Together, they discusses food safety procedures – especially in terms of fermentation which “can be seen as a process of ‘spoiloing’ and stressed the accountability of maintaining, storing and distributing micro-organisms and microbial food/beverage items.”
Over the course of her residency, Sneha also visited BrewLab and learned how to sequence microbial DNA to generate precise for the library knowledge about which micro-organisms are present in samples.
In the meantime, Sneha spent a lot of her time at the Lab fermenting Egyptian Kombucha using hibiscus tea and experimenting with long term storage of yogurt cultures.
Sneha also benefitted from conversations with fellow Green Lab residents Pilar Bolumburu and Zoë Powell from Materiom. Sneha writes, “We had a ‘library’ to ‘library’ conversation including looking at the concept of a library, interfacing elements digitally, tool hacking to make infrastructure more accessible and less wasteful, and we also spoke about future ‘library’ to ‘library’ collaborations.”
We look forward to more updates from Sneha as her MICRO_FOOD library continues to expand! You can find out more about her work here.
Sneha plans on returning to Green Lab in Autumn 2019 to lead a workshop. Please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.
Andreea began her research residency here at the Lab in March and is using the opportunity to research across the disciplines of biology, robotics and responsive growing in relation to her background in architecture. Her broader area of focus is how to successfully print growing bio matter in gel mediums – and to achieve this she has begun to prototype a hobby robot arm that can be optimised to extrude organics.
Prototyping a modified robot arm
Andreea is working towards creating her own fully open-source, affordable tool kit for a robot arm that extrudes organics, with the hope that it will be more affordable and accessible than current options. This will allow a wider and more diverse audience to engage with robotic fabrication.
To achieve this she is currently using the Fab Lab at Green Lab to study existing robotic systems, design and protoype 3D printing files and laser cut files. By studying the existing Dobot desk arm that we have at the lab she is redesigning the robot frame and firmware code to do the following:
Incorporate a syringe organics extruder
Provide stability and accuracy through low cost fabricated PLA parts and lasercut pieces
Incorporate an Android app-controlled robot functionality
We have documented the process of Andreea’s first iteration of her prototype robot hobby arm to extrude organics on our wiki – where you can follow a step by step guide of the project to date.
You can also follow her progress throughout the residency on her website
Riina is a designer and maker of hand-crafted leather gloves and a material researcher currently pursuing her Masters of Arts in Material Futures at Central Saint Martins UAL. During her research residency at Green Lab Riina is searching for a biological leather substitute suitable to use for making gloves. She is currently researching kombucha SCOBY (the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), grown on the surface of the beverage, with the goal of developing it into the ultimate vegan leather substitute material.
Coming from a design background with a focus on leather accessories, Riina is looking for new alternative material options that retain the positive qualities leather offers. Kombucha leather is relevant as a potential alternative to animal leather, whilst avoiding man-made oil-based fake “vegan” leather. Riina would like to contribute into developing a leather replacement material that is sustainable with minimal impact to the environment and that can be easily reproduced without creating non-biological waste.
During her residency, Riina´s research includes fermenting and growing the kombucha SCOBY in large sizes over several weeks, testing various finishes of processing the SCOBY into a visually appealing, soft and durable material and prototyping “leather” fashion accessories to test their wearability.
Midushi is a product designer and material researcher who is pursuing her master’s degree in Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins UAL. For her 12 week research residency here at the lab she is using her material driven approach to concoct sustainably derived materials from the sea and wasteful everyday resources and translate them into commercial products.
For her initial research she has been using Agar- Agar which is derived from red algae. Agar has been used in the medical industry for a number of years due to its nutrient content but more recently designers are starting to explore it’s potential as a bioplastic. With the growing concern over single use plastic, Midushi aims to tackle this issue, focusing in on single-use cutlery she is exploring how to make biodegradable tableware to help eradicate this pollution phenomena.
She is currently exploring various recipes and composite options to make the most durable material – mixing agar- agar with various available food waste such as egg shell powder, pea pods and beetroot peels. She has also added ingredients including red chili powder, turmeric, charcoal and gram flour to understand the various properties these substances can provide.
By developing mundane but functional objects such as disposable cutlery, Midushi hopes to bring about acceptance and popularity towards a new aesthetic thus opening up the possibilities of producing more biodegradable short life products that won’t last forever and pollute our natural world.
We offer affordable lab space and workspace to incubate early stage new food-based initiatives and business. Our curated residencies provide access to the Green Lab, the team and all of our network. It's a place to scale an idea beyond your proof of concept.