Category: outreach


Midushi Kochhar – Material Research Resident at London Design Week

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.

Material Lab 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.

Eggware table ware

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.

Eggware on show at V&A Day of Design

Eggware on show at V&A 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.’

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Round up of the Open Design & Manufacture project

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.’

Other institutions that have taken part:

 
University of Florence, Lama, CSM, University of Deusto, University of Arts the London, Technalia, Tongji University, WSB University, FabLab Lodz, P2P Foundation
 

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 UAL Digital 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.

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Future Algae Brief

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.

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students presenting their future algae project

Material Lab & Library

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.
 
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Research residents:

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.

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A waste project

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.

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Kombucha scoby composite

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.

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Mychrome

A Closer Look At Bioplastics – A Solution to Plastic Waste?

(Green Lab, 2019)

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.

Read it here.

Green Lab x Materiom collaboration

Green Lab X Materiom

Materiom have taken residence in the lab for our Green Lab X Materiom collaboration. Zoe Powell and Pilar Bolumburu are both material researchers and workshop facilitators from Materiom and they will be spending the next few months working with us and helping to develop our Material Lab and Library.

Materiom:

‘Materiom is an open platform for materials experimentation and development for a circular economy. We believe this multidisciplinary and collaborative approach is the key to unlocking a 21st century materials economy that is regenerative by design.
Working at the intersection of design, material science and ecology, the Materiom platform and its community are using open source data and technology to unlock a circular materials economy that is regenerative by design.’

Material Lab:

The material lab is going to be a bookable space for material lab members to use. The space is ideal for material research and development that can’t be conducted at home but that doesn’t need a bio lab. With stainless steel work benches and equipment ranging from what you would find in your kitchen to more advanced lab equipment the space is ideal for messy work.

During our collaboration Materiom will also help us develop a material library, showcasing future sustainable materials alongside more traditional examples. The library will be a space for students, researchers, buyers and industry to come and explore alternative possibilities. Located next to the lab, the library will also connect viewers with researchers making these alternative options, creating a unique space for collaboration.

At our next #openhouse evening on Thursday 28th February we will be launching our material lab and running some material workshops – come along to meet with the Material Lab team and Materiom.

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Future Algae – exploring the Margate coastline, Haeckels and seaweed

Yesterday the Green Lab team took a group of students from MA Industrial Design, Central Saint Martins to Margate for a day of exploring the potential of seaweed for the OD&M (open design & manufacturing) project. With a focus on the future potential algae holds we have challenged students to work with this material and explore speculative futures where algae will play a big role.

Margate seaweed

With Margate and the Thanet coast being home to an abundance of seaweed, as well as company Haeckels that are showcasing this amazing material and its beneficial properties, we took the students for a day of exploring the plethora of algae available.

Haeckels shop

Visitng Haeckels making space we met founder Dom to hear more about the products he makes from the seaweed harvested from the shoreline. Having discovered an abundant material that know one was utilsing Dom started to create cosmetics that showcased the benefits of seaweed.

Dom & the students

As well as making with materials from Margate and in Margate he also has a passion for sustainable systems within his business – now focusing on packaging and distribution to ensure a low impact product. As a coastal warden Dom and his company are actively caretaking for both there home and surroundings whilst raising awareness of the power of nature and answers it can hold.

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REAP conference 2018 – Agri-Tech for a productive future!

Green Lab founder Ande Gregson will be taking part in this years REAP Conference by Agri-Tech East on Wednesday 7th November with a focus on Agri-Tech for a Productive Future.

The day will consist of a series of talks, showcases and debates hosted by various speakers with different viewpoints and experience with the agri-tech indsutry.

Ande will take part in the afternoon debate:

“This house believes in supporting land-use for competitive sustainable UK food production should be the priority for agri-tech innovations.”

Chair: Mark Suthern, Head of Agriculture, Barclays

For years the price paid for food has been disconnected from the cost of production; now, as the regulatory environment shifts, agriculture will be exposed to uncertain market forces. What future do we want for farming? Is food security and the supply of high quality, nutritional food incompatible with the demand for cheap food? Does higher productivity always mean compromising the environment or can agri-tech help achieve both? Should farmers go high-tech and automate to compete or instead diversify and produce premium products for the bioeconomy?

This is a chance to hear the views of diverse industry experts:

For:

Dr Dave Hughes, Head of Global Technology Scouting, Syngenta

Dr Stuart Knight, Deputy Director, NIAB

Prof. Claire Domoney, Head, Metabolic Biology Department, John Innes Centre

Tony Bambridge, Managing Director, B&C Farming, former NFU Norfolk Chairman

Against:

Andrew Spicer, CEO, Algenuity

William Cracroft-Eley, Lincolnshire farmer and Chairman, Terravesta

Guy Poppy, University of Southampton, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Food Standards Agency

Ande Gregson, Founder and Director, Green Lab

To find out more about the day and other speakers head to the Agri-tech East website here.

Book tickets

We’ve space for you to #grow #farm #ferment #experiment

With the Lab staying put in Bermondsey we now have some affordable temporary project space – if you have an exciting project or area of research you are working on and think you would be a good fit and one of the below options suits your needs make sure you get in touch.

Lower lab floor plan

Studio space

We have a studio available to rent in the lower lab – this bright and airy space is over 13 sqm with two large windows letting in plenty of light. The space would be ideal for an individual or small team seeking private space to work.

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Mushroom growing room

We have a dark space with no windows perfect for growing fruiting mushrooms or to experiment with mycelium materials. The space is over 6 sqm and has standing bench desks along the walls

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Fermentation & Brewing room

This room is perfect for fermentation and brewing with its previous tenant brewing fabulous Kombucha. The space is 7.5 sqm.

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Wet Lab

Our downstairs wet lab has over 750sqft of flexible work space for projects to grow into. The space is also set up with large scale sinks, work benches, and space for research, growing, farming and making as much mess as required.

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Taking a space in the lab also provides you with access to our upper lab Makerspace with digital fabrication, our Materials/Bio lab and contact with the wider Green Lab community engaging with food, water and waste issues.

We are also taking applications for our Research Residency programme, to find out more and apply for 3months access to the lab and facilities click here.

Southwark… we’re sticking with you

The Lab has gone a little quiet over the last week – with big decisions to be made…

With the news that our Bermondsey home will stay standing until early 2019 we have decided to stay put and halt our move to Brixton – that’s right Lambeth – I’m afraid you aren’t getting us yet.

It was a difficult decision to make but we feel it is the right one for the lab for now. Over the coming weeks we are going to be focusing our attention identifying what the lab means to people and understanding exactly which are the most important areas for us to continue with.

We’re going to continue our focus on projects and research working with food, water and waste we provide a space to test, research and grow new ideas that are going to make real positive change for the future. The lab will still be open for short term urban agriculture technology and growing projects in our wet lab and also upper clean areas.

To keep up with our latest news and the next steps for the lab sign up to our newsletter

Green Lab in Malaysia

Green Lab Founder, Andrew Gregson, spent the last week in June 2018 participating in a 5 day workshop in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia in partnerhip with Westminster University, The British Council and University of Malaysia. The intensive trans- and multi-disciplinary five-day workshop was funded by the ‘British Council Researcher Links’, designed to foster an ecosystem for developing resilient social enterprise through entrepreneurial learning.

Over 40 participants from the UK, Europe, US and Asia converged in Kota Kinabalu to take part in the project. Over the five days, small teams traveled to : Kundasang (agro-tourism), Keningau (livestock tourism), Kota Maradu – Teringai (banana plantation), Kuala Penyu (emerging industry), Tambunan (mulberry plantation) with a view to understanding rural needs, potential for social entrepreneurship and to establish local projects.

Mentor and Coaches
Mentors and coaches meet at the start of the week for briefings

Green Lab’s role was to act as a mentor to ‘Team Banana’ (our self nominated name given our project location, and love of the local Sabah banana). Team Banana traveled to the ‘Teringai, Beach and Cafe lodge’; exploring a banana plantation, local community and social ecosystem, building a social context and understanding of the landscape, listening to the needs of the rural community and creating a proposal for social entreprenuership.

Teringai
Teringai Beach and Cafe Lodge
Teringai
Coastal location
Teringai
Visiting local communities

Teringai
Getting to know the landscape
Teringai
Listening to residents
Teringai
Working as a team

Our final proposal and pitch focused on improving local environmental conditions; removing plastics from beaches, edcuation workshops for schools, recycling waste materials and encouraging local communities to self initiate and lead activities. Of the five proposals from the competing teams, presented for peer review at the end of the week, Green Lab and our Team Banana won: our small pot of prize funding will initiate a research project and implement the start of our social entreprenuership.

Team Banana
Team Banana – winning team at Malaysia SITEL 2018

To close the week, we spent Friday morning cleaning a beach at UMS (University Malaysia, Sabah) – sadly the local community disgard a large proportion of plastics into the sea, which accumulate on a beautiful adjacent sandy retreat.

Collecting rubbish from beach

Collecting rubbish from beach

Collecting rubbish from beach

We’d like to thank the SITEL team at Westminister for organising the workshop, their organisational skills and the inspiring team made the project possible. Green Lab is very much looking forward to making our ‘Team Banana’ project come to life.

For more background on the SITEL project visit the Westminster Application page.

Open Design & Manufacturing

Green Lab is partnered with University of the Arts London (UAL) as part of an EU funded project OD&M (Open Design & Manufacturing). The project connects universities, makerspaces and enterprises to work collaboratively encouraging open-design principles, innovative practice, and sharing ethos to design towards social good.

As a makerspace with a concern for re-designing complex urban food, water and waste systems Green Lab values open-source design and innovation to tackle important challenges for the future and knowledge exchange is fundamental to achieving sustainable practice on a global scale.

OD&M Knowledge

Green Lab took part in ‘Arts Work of the Future’ by Digital Maker Collective at the TATE Exchange from 6th – 11th March 2018. The week long residency was a collaboration between Digital Maker Collective ( a collective of students, alumni & staff from Camberwell, Chelsea & Wimbledon, UAL), MA Industrial Design students from Central Saint Martins and makerspaces – Green Lab and Fab Lab Lodz. The residency encouraged open design principles and knowledge exchange, working collaboratively and inviting the community to engage with and partake in the creation of the work.

Green Lab collaborated with a team of students & staff from Digital Maker Collective to create a Growing Space – an indoor greenhouse exploring indoor farming and sustainable food systems, built using end of life materials and designed to be modular, resulting in the structure physically growing as the week went on alongside the plants. The space invited the public to add sections as they wished, creating a network of growing spaces, planting seedlings in recycled plastic bottles and cups as they went. The design was purposefully self explanatory and easy to assemble, encouraging people of all abilities to engage with building it.

Chillis growing

The space challenged preconceived perceptions of the ability to grow indoors and within the city, encouraging creativity when thinking of the materials and equipment required. By collecting locally salvaged and recycled materials from our urban landscape it poses to redefine the value of objects. As well as producing edible crops the space created a temporary green environment, providing a peaceful space to relax.

Green Lab resident Edward Hill talked of sustainable growing within urban environments, holding a bucket hydroponics workshop – with a few easily accessible and non specialist pieces of equipment you can pick up at a hardware shop (a bucket and lid, rain gullies, piping and a pump) Ed demonstrated how to successfully grow mint in a vertical wall system with just water and nutrients, eliminating the need for soil and space. To read more about the project at the TATE Exchange click here.

Growing space

Gauging the success of building a temporary structure for growing at the TATE Exchange Green Lab has continued the project with a group of students and staff from Chelsea. We are in the process of developing an open-design and modular structure to grow both edible and foliage plants indoors. Throughout a series of workshop’s we have been designing an open source vertical ‘wall’. For this structure we began to consider a set of design parameters and considerations to ensure we are creating in a sustainably aware way. Modularity and open source have directed the design at each step of the process as well as a focus on material exploration and awareness.

We are now in the process of creating a methodology for design, building ‘Open-design lenses’ to act as a series of steps and considerations needed to achieve sustainable open design that’s accessible, collaborative and socially driven. To test our lenses we will create a number of short projects that innovate current urban systems, creating products and environments of change. The OD&M project is a 3 year project ending in December 2019, to find out more have a look here.