Useless waste turned into colorful pigments by Kaiku – Living Color

Acknowledging the fact that most of the colors that surround us are  produced from harmful chemicals, Nicole Stjernsward says pigments are due for a change. Flipping through history pages, Nicole brings an alternative method of generating natural paints with Kaiku – Living Color.

Student of Imperial College London, Nicole Stjernsward initiates a sustainable alternative to colors produced out of toxic substances and manipulation of fossil fuels. The colors in most consumer products such as cosmetics, clothes, paints, food, dyes, etc. are derived from petrochemicals and as the research for environmentally sound materials continues, also pigments are due for a change.

As we look back into history, colors were extracted from plants and minerals. However, since the industrial revolution, cheap petrochemical colors have become the norm at a considerable environmental cost. Amongst all industries, the textile industry only produces and uses more or less 1.3 million tons of synthetic dyes each year. To avoid further ecological devastation, the Kaiku system uses plant waste as raw materials to create natural pigments.

Natural dye ready to be transformed by Kaiku - Living Color
Dye generated out of vegetable is ready to be transformed into pigments by Kaiku – Living Color

When you hear the word ‘colors’ your mind wanders through a wide range of shades, furthermore mixing those hues gives even more possibilities. Similarly, plants and fruits consumed every day have the possibility to produce unique colors from their skins and peels. Generally, these are left to rot in landfills, but Kaiku – Living Color transforms this waste into a high-value natural resource.

Kaiku-Living Color system machine composition
 Kaiku – Living Color is a vaporizing system turning waste fruit and vegetable skins into natural pigments

The Kaiku system developed by Nicole Stjernsward is mainly composed of reservoirs, external air-pressure, a water pump, and an atomizing chamber. The process starts with peeling the skins of fruits and vegetables, boiling them and forming an eco-friendly dye, which is then poured into reservoirs. The dyes are forced into the atomizing chamber via extraction tubes with the help of the water pump and hot pressured air. The liquid turns into a mist which is then sprayed above 100-degree Celsius, hot enough to vaporize, and leave behind a colorful powder through a vortex. In the end, the fate of a wasteful peel is turned into a functional natural pigment.

Range of colorful pigments by Kaiku - Living Color
 Range of colorful pigments derived from plant waste with Kaiku – Living Color

These pigments have been used by the designer in various materials, resulting to perform well with agar bioplastics, fabric, plaster and wood veneers. However, Stjernsward is continuously developing her work collaborating with painters and textile designers to test different applications of the pigments.

Kaiku - Living Color out of orange
Pink shade pigment by Kaiku - Living Color

Talking to people terrifies me the most, which is why I started writing.
I am an architect from India, studying and working in Milan with my broken Italian and a bag full of spices.