What does a system look like that enables a small city scale production of biochromes to dye textiles? How can we make use of the city’s existing infrastructure, and which connection or link needs to be developed or facilitated?

Local color envisions a collaborative system defined and connected through shared values that is respectfully adaptive to one and another. A system that uncovers and revalues existing resources that the city is rich through the exchange and repurpose of material streams while fostering sustainable practices among local stakeholders and communities.

In essence, Local Color’s vision of a system for change involves weaving existing value chains together tapping into the city’s existing potential. 


value chains local colorIn local color, the botanical cycles are one of the most prominent value chains that is being explored in the context of the city of Amsterdam.

A variety of textile related resources come from botanically grown materials, think of indigo or woad leaves for traditionally dyeing blue in jeans, flax stems for crafting linen fibers, and many more.

This cycle is dictated by natural patterns, non-alterable or influenceable by human behaviour needs – such as the fast paced fashion requirements. It require us to slow down: to re-sync with natural patterns and rethink our systemic value-chains to include a multiplicity of production patterns. When we deepen into analysing the cycle, we understand the 1-2 years length cycle necessary to produce the dyes and fibers we consume. 

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The plant catalogue of Local Color is a resource that offers a starting point into exploring the botanical cycle, guiding the explorer towards which plants can be grown or harvested locally in Amsterdam and what colours these produce. If you are curious about what plants you could start growing, explore some of the plants in this catalogue, while if you are looking for knowledge or an upcoming workshop, seeds or specific content – get in touch with us through one of the links in the footer.


The Local Color map offers a geographical overview of botanical opportunities, pointing at their location, including dye gardens and wild plants.



The bacterial cycle illustrates the research, opportunities and protocols of implementing pigmented bacteria for the process of textile dyeing. Could those single-cell organisms provide more sustainable alternatives to color on a small city scale?

This cycle has been long investigated for its potential in terms of low water use, small scale equipment, easily and safely grown colouring properties. All of the research has been made publicly available through open-source documentation during the Bioshades project. Started in 2015, Bioshades is an ongoing research line focused on knowledge creation, hands-on testing and educational practices led by Cecilia Raspanti at TextileLab Amsterdam, initiated together with researcher Nina Papakonstatinou, TextileLab co-founder Ista Boszhard and other European partners of the TCBL project. During the TCBL period – 2015-2019  – many workshops, events, resources, publications and protocols have been produced, many of which are available on 

Explore the Bioshades research here

To learn more about how to work with bacteria safely, experiment or test this technique on your material, you can join the Fabricademy: textile and technology academy program for the BioChromes week at Waag’s TextileLab Amsterdam – this week is led and taught by Cecilia Raspanti. For custom explorations, get in touch with TextileLab by choosing an option in the footer.



Although not the main focus of this project, waste streams circulating our city provide a high potential to be used for textile dyeing. Food waste as such is a commonly used resource in the natural dye scene and worth investigating in a culinary-loving city. Especially fruit and vegetable waste is a good source of biochromes. When dyed on mordanted fabrics they create a wide range of bright colors.

Organic waste is not sorted appropriately in Amsterdam, and therefore most of it ends up in the incinerator. The major potential for this organic waste is therefore lost. When using a product that is labelled as having no value, as a source of color. We can extend the potential life cycle of resources that our planet has to offer. Who doesn’t want that? The only disadvantage of waste dyes is that the colors they yield are fugitive. This means that the color is lost over time due to exposure to the sun.

However, dyeing with waste dyes can play an interesting role in changing our perspectives on dyed clothes. Imagine being able to wear the same top in different colors, because you can re-dye it from time to time. Or wearing color-changing clothes in which the top layer of dye is fugitive and reveals the underlying dye after continuous exposure to the sun. Rethinking fashion in this way can create a new relationship between us and our clothes and therefore create a new type of value.

Explore the color possibilities here



This textile cycle includes different stages of circular textile production from yarn spinning to product use to recycling. The textile wheel was developed in the European Union Horizon 2020 project called Reflow by the Amsterdam Pilot consisting of the Amsterdam Municipality, Bma Techne, Pakhuis de Zwijger and Waag’s TextileLab.

The circular textile cycle envisions how to move from a linear to a circular textile flow. Want to know about each step, have a look at the Reflow Booklet.

Download the booklet that describes all stages in detail