, Algae Lab

About a bright blue powder

On the lead-up to the first atelier LUMA open house, one of the most fascinating displays is the one set up for the Algae Lab project. Here, amidst the buzz of busy 3D printers and bubbling vials, designer Maartje Dros, from Studio Klarenbeek & Dros, answered our questions about the latest addition to their exhibits: a bright blue powder.

— Yesterday you received this very striking blue powder from Algonesia. What is Algonesia and what is the powder?

The powder is an extract of spirulina, and we’re very happy about it. Algonesia is a research-based company that focuses on the possibilities of using spirulina as a colouring in cosmetics, in food and so on. The colours and qualities vary depending on the type of spirulina. Some forms are better for your health and others are better for use in cosmetics. This bright blue colour is very hard to get, and Algonesia is testing it on different products to see what the effects are of the colouring, and what are the possibilities.

We are also testing how we can use this colouring for printing, and we’re also doing tests to link it to salt. The algae that you find in the Camargue has a direct link to salt, which is a very interesting material. For instance, it can be used to crystallize a biopolymer to make it stronger.

— Can you give an example of another one of your main collaborators?

We are in contact with l'Ecole des Mines, which has an algae lab and collaborates with CEA Cadarache to specialize in using algae as a biopolymer. They’re using it for a pigment and investing in making a biopolymer just out of algae. CEA focuses on growing and processing the algae, and l'Ecole des Mines is looking for ways to use it in the production process.

— How are you making this technology or these products accessible in the region?

In general we pursue different local partnerships in each of our production phases. There’s a 3D print shop in Arles that we’ve connected with, and they’re really enthusiastic about trying to sell the new filaments we’re producing. There are also a couple of restaurants that see a possibility to create something with food design. And restaurants that work with local foods can perhaps feature locally made dishes that also have an effect on the taste of their food. We’re thinking a lot about using spices in the salt products that we’re testing. And we see already the enthusiasm of multiple parties.