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Algae as a bioluminescent light

and a bio-textile.


A piece created for Making Fashion Sense Exhibition at HeK.
Curators: Sabine Himmelsbach and Katharina Sand
Project by:
Thora H Arnardottir & Jessica Dias
Material design support:
Catherine Euale & Larra Campos
Biological support:
Dr. Beate Christgen

"The multinational artists’ collective BioBabes uses the science of biology to rethink clothing designs. Their designs feature a variety of materials and manufacturing processes that include living organisms and organic materials. They aim to introduce the new field of biofabrication and biodesign to a wider public.

For this exhibition, the collective is developing a new work, which will be shown here for the first time"

- HeK press release

The exhibition Making FASHION Sense showcases the radical transformation of fashion through technology. Robot arms and mixed reality, holograms and drones have all paraded down international catwalks. Making FASHION Sense focuses on the impact of technology upon creative processes in the fashion industry, as well as on artistic paths leading towards increasing sustainability: Fashion which makes sense.



The exhibition explores technology as a transformative tool for artists, designers, as well as for the wearers of clothing, generating a reinvention of fashion systems. While hyperfunctional materials already monitor our biometric data in everyday life and sports activities, this exhibition showcases artists and designers who develop experimental augmented fashion objects, investigating new perceptions of our environment and human interaction which make us think in new ways. Using new materiality, they create creative fashion processes which stimulate the human senses, perceive the wearers and their surroundings, change our perspectives, and make sense in the current geopolitical context.


These artists and designers create fashion that - by using technology - is not only transforming silhouettes, but production systems. Based on sustainable production ethics, they create new fashion semantics with a deeper purpose. - HeK press release

Alginate bioplastic

Lasercut alginate 'fabric' as a top


In this wearable, Bio-Lum-Sac, we address new territories of engage in a symbiotic relationship with the body and an organism. Our concept was to create a light organ that could be seen as an extension of the human body to host living organisms and illuminate the otherwise invisible creatures around us. 


Here, the substratum is made from alginate bioplastic to showcase algae as a viable alternative source for bio textile fabrication. Alginate is a complex carbohydrate found in the cell walls of brown seaweed, mixed with water and natural plasticiser in concentrated amounts, ergf

cast and cured until dry, then laser cut. The bioplastic is attached to a liquid backpack that keeps the algae alive. The algae medium is circulated from pouches through silicon tubing that encircles around the neck of the person wearing it. In the dark space, this vibrant blue light is emitted from dinoflagellate algae, Pyrocystis, that lives on the surface layer of seawater. The algae’s glow, a brief flash of bright blue light, is generated by a chemical reaction part of its circadian rhythm and induced by agitation during its dark cycle. However, the algae will not exhibit a constant glow as the light will fade when agitated multiple times within the same cycle.

Pyrocystis fusiformis Dinoflagillate

They derived their name from the Latin pyro, meaning fire, and cystis, meaning a hollow sac. They are also a part of the marine phytoplankton community and thus contribute a large amount of oxygen to the world’s atmosphere while also consuming a large amount of carbon dioxide. 

Seen through microscopic photography,  the arrangement of the flagella causes Pyrocystis fusiformis to spin as it moves through the water.


The glow

When agitated the fusiformis emit a bright blue light that lasts for only a fraction of a second.


The piece exhibited at Making Fashion Sense 15th of January to 8th of March 2020