Food as a Medium: Pigments and Dyes Made from Edibles

08.27.14 | By
Food as a Medium: Pigments and Dyes Made from Edibles

Food as a medium is not a new concept, but a revisited one. Many trades, especially textile designers are finding crossover with food while developing their pieces. What’s interesting to us is some of their application methods when it comes to natural dyes.

Never thought I would be nostalgic for tie-dye, however after a brief holiday in the hippie hills of Southern Turkey, I’ve found myself lured by these chaotic swirls of color once again. But this time, as a food designer, I am drawn to the muted tones of pigments and dyes made from spices, vegetables, and other edibles.

Here are examples of the rainbow of tones achievable from teas and coffee, and even onions.

Or even more interesting is KaCaMa Design Lab’s take on tie-dye. These Hong Kong-based product designers, specialize in re-using post-consumer waste materials. Their goal is to not only to delight people’s lives and instill eco-awareness to the users of their products, but to establish connections between local enterprises and artisans, and to bring together varying local cultures.

Their piece that really caught our eye – Colour of Waste. They’ve observed the difficulty in removing some food tints from clothes, and have taken it as a challenge to rethink stains as design. They were inspired to derive natural dyes from food for cloth dyeing. In the pseudo-intravenous injection device, the infusion bag is filled with natural food dyes made of leftovers. Different patterns are then formed on the cloth. The results are uncontrolled and reminiscent of tie-dye or even raku pottery… where you as the artist only have so much control, but the true beauty comes from the natural reactions that happen when you combine varied applications.



TJ Girard is a sought-after food designer and creative consultant, celebrated for staging theatrical, interactive food + beverage experiences. She now resides in California where her creativity is solar powered! TJ writes the Design Milk column called Taste.