Biomaterials, Natural Pigments, and Fabrication

The Nature Lab's approach to material innovation is rooted not only in sustainability, but in creating materials embedded in biological systems, through both natural metabolisms and created metabolisms.

In natural metabolisms, sometimes referred to a g-i-y, or grow-it yourself, organisms make our materials, as is the case with kombucha leather or mushroom foams from introduced feedstocks. Created metabolisms use biologically derived ingredients to fabricate materials with lab equipment, such as starch-, gelatin- or agar- based bioplastics. Some example processes can be viewed in the RISD Nature Lab Bioplastic Guidebook.

Like materials in nature, some are extremely ephemeral, like a flower petal, some can last a very long time indeed, like wood. All are ultimately biodegradeable. Samples of these and other bio-materials can be accessed in person upon request from the Nature Lab's biomaterials library.

For more information, please check out our Biodesign Makerspace website. Contact or Jen Bissonnette at with any questions.

Click on the samples below for recipes!

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The RISD Nature Lab is an EPSCoR|C-AIM Core Research Facility supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #OIA-1655221 and EAGER Grant Award #1723559. ​​​Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this site are those of the Nature Lab and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.​

© 2024 Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab at Rhode Island School of Design