Anatomy of the Laboratorium: a manifesto

Four years ago Laboratorium, the experimental lab for art/design and biotechnology at KASK, School of Arts Ghent was set up. Laboratorium positioned KASK as one of the first artistic educational institutions in Belgium embracing scientific research in its educational program. The start was rather slow: getting to know the departments, finding access and making the bridge between science, technology and the different fields of art and design which is still very challenging. However, during the last 4 years, we identified the internal working method, focus and unique position of the lab, which we now want to pursue in this proposal.

Early on the main research focussed on what all school departments have in common: color! The Color Biolab research contextualizes color in the contemporary art and design world by questioning environmental issues related to it.

KASK biolab has a unique position as its main stakeholders (students, teachers, researchers, artists and designers) are creative and interdisciplinary. The methodology of the lab is a mixture of hands-on making in which scientific and experimental making methods blend. The lab will question and initiate interdisciplinary conversations in search of applications depending on the needs within different disciplines. Reflection on the position of hands-on research within the theoretical framework of color will be present in the overall research.

We identify 3 phases which are crucial for the lab to operate.

ACTIVATION: We are intrinsically curious about color coming from nature and investigate how the lab can explore and link between nature and color reducing environmental impact in the context of art and design. Hands-on research through making goes hand in hand with constructing a theoretical framework around color.

IMPLEMENTATION: biolab accommodates and facilitates hands-on research to help finding practical applications (design) and materialising artistic concepts (arts). In this iteration process of application and making the theoretical and practical research are questioned and refined.

INNOVATION: Biolab has established itself as an expertise center in color in which innovation is key. The innovative research naturally finds its way back into the activation and implementation phase.

The Color Biolab KASK

From 2016 to 2019, an initial research project was conducted at the lab focusing on new ways of creating colors: The Color Biolab. The Color Biolab was a transdisciplinary research project approaching the color field from different perspectives: from sustainable production and application to the use of color as a common language between art and science. This project aimed to reflect on the possibilities of new coloring sources, from traditional coloring to living organisms or waste and the implications involved. Most of the work was developed in LABORATORIUM, the experimental lab for art/design and biotechnology at KASK. In LABORATORIUM, microorganisms were cultured, pigment extraction was performed and applied, and microbial visualization or chemical reactions were conducted. On this page, you can find a database of coloring materials used in the laboratory. To see the projects developed in this research, you can click here. Some of the results generated in this research were exhibited and presented in national and international conferences and art spaces. The knowledge that was generated was transferred via workshops, presentations, and seminars within and outside of the art academy. This project was led by María Boto and Kristel Peters, and it explored different approaches to the production and application of living, sustainable, and open colors at KASK/School of Arts-University College Ghent. The Color Biolab project was funded by the Arts Research Fund of University College Ghent.


The laboratory is located in the Media Department (Offerlaan 5) of the School of Arts. The space offers the following facilities to be students and collaborators:

microscope // incubator // centrifuge // fridge // frezeer // oven // autoclave // orbital shaker // distillation system // heating plates // safety cabinet


Located in the Bijloke, the greenhouse is currently used to cultivate coloring plants together with other art-science projects.


Plants available in the laboratory are listed here. To find out more about plants, growing mediums and applications go to colorlab.

Alkanna tinctoria // Reseda luteola //Berberis aristata // Betula pendula // Cladonia genus // Cosmos sulphureus // Equisetum arvense // Evernia prunastri // Frangula alnus // Genista tinctoria // Haematoxylon campechianum // Maclura tinctora // Parastrephia lucida // Persea americana // Rubia tinctorium // Sambucus nigra // Senegalia catechu // Solidago virgaurea // Sophora japonica // Arctostaphylos uva-ursi // Anthemis tinctoria // Hypericum perforatum


Algae available in the laboratory are listed here. To find out more about algae, growing mediums and applications go to colorlab.

Chlorella vulgaris // Dunaliella salina // Haematococcus pluvialis // Nannochloropsis // Porphyridium purpureumv // Isochrysis galbana // Fucus vesiculosus // Microchaete diplosiphon


Bacteria available in the laboratory are listed here. To find out more about bacteria, growing mediums and applications go to colorlab.

Bradyrhizobium sp // Streptococcus agalactiae // Streptomyces coelicolor // Janthinobacterium lividum // Serratia marcescens // Arthrospira genus


Others organisms as fungi, lichen or insects are listed here. To find out more about them, growing mediums and applications go to colorlab.

Chlorociboria aeruginascens // Pleurotus // Dactylopius coccus // Evernia prunastri // Parmelia and Flavoparmelia genus // Usnea genus // Xanthoria parietina // Bolinus brandaris // Physarum polycephalum


This project is possible thanks to the collaboration and support of a great number of people:

School of Arts, KASK (HoGent): Bram Crevits, Dirk Van Gogh, Diane Steverlynck, Kristof van Gestel, Wim De Temmerman, Clara Vankerschaver, Katrien Vuylsteke, David Depestel, Elias Heuninck, Hendrik Leper, Jerry Galle, Anouk De Clercq, Joost Rekveld, Jasper Rigole, Christiane Högner, Liselotte Van Dael, Erwin Wittevrongel, Peter Baekelandt, Michiel de Cleene, Katia Ballegeer, Curatorial studies, Open Design Course, Liene Aerts, Thomas Jansenss, Sabine De Cock, Greta De Brauwer, Dries De Wit, Herlinde Van Langenhove.KASK students and "Art+Science+ Technology interactions" seminar participants. Special mention to Vanessa Müller and Hamer Körmeling. Beekeepers: Traudi Helmberger, Hassan Karam.

Ghent University (UGent): Dr. Stijn Van Hulle, Dave Manhaeghe, Larissa T. Arashiro (Vakgroep Groene Chemie en Technologie, LIWET-Laboratorium voor Industriële Waterbehandeling en Ecotechnologie, UGent), Dr. Marta Calatayud, Dr. Tom Van de Wiele (Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology (LabMET), UGent),Dr. Matthew Shawkey (Evolution and Optics of Nanostructures, Department of Biology, UGent), Dr. Víctor Cárdenes, Dr. Johan De Grave (Vakgroep Geologie,Onderzoeksgroep Mineralogie en Petrologie (MINPET), UGent), Dr. Annemieke Verbeken, Nathan Schoutteten (Research Group Mycology, Department of Biology, UGent), Dr. Wim Vyverman, Dr.Céline Allewaert (Research Group Protistology and Aquatic Ecology, Department of Biology, UGent), Dr. Michael Tytgat (Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, UGent).

Sarah Magnan, Gijs de Heij (Open Source Publishing), Laurence De Craene (Industriemuseum, Stad Gent), Tine Vervaet (Stad Gent), Juan Luis Font (University of Seville), Dr. Christine Mohr and Domicele Jonauskaite (Colour experience research group, University of Lausanne), Dr. Mari Uusküla (Tallinn University), Dr. Nathan C. Gianneschi, Dr. Ziying Hu (Departments of Chemistry, Materials Science & Engineering,and Biomedical Engineering Northwestern University), Dr. Ali Dhinojwala (Akron University), Arnau Serra, Daniel González and Juan Antonio Boto.

Artists who collaborated: Kars and Boom, Sina Hensel, Peter Beyls, Pepa Ivanova, Zeger Reyers, Paula Pin, Susana Cámara, Inés Cámara, Wabi labo.

Organizations: Industriemuseum, MUSAC, Reagent, ELISAVA (Pompeu Fabra University), Mycelia, Universidad de Murcia, NHM Londres, Nuances de plantes, Huis Van Kina, Tuin Van Kina, Mycelia, Design Museum Ghent, DOK, Handmade in Brugge, Open Structures and ICA Belgium.

Exhibition curators: Alice Lefebvre, Bert Puype.

Design: Open Source Publishing (Sarah Magnan & Gijs de Heij). This publication has been generated fromthe webiste of the project laboratorium ( with pelican and a Pythonscript. All the files are available Part of this publication has been plotted with living colors derived from the Color Biolab research project of Maria Boto Ordóñez and Kristel Peters within KASK Laboratorium.

The Color Biolab project is funded by the Arts Research Fund of University College Ghent.