skip to primary navigationskip to content

WIRED UK cover beautiful bioluminescent dress supported by SynBio Fund

last modified Feb 21, 2018 03:33 PM
A science-fashion collaboration between researchers in the Department of Plant Sciences and the Royal College of Art has appeared in the Februrary edition of WIRED UK.
WIRED UK cover beautiful bioluminescent dress supported by SynBio Fund

Original exhibit at Cambridge eLuminate Festival 2015. Copyright Victoria Geaney.

Bernardo Pollak, a PhD student in the Department of Plant Sciences, collected and cultured diverse bioluminescent marine bacteria on surfing trips around the world and in 2015 was awarded £5000 from the SynBio Fund to sequence the light producing genes from over 20 such bacteria in partnership with fellow PhD student Anton Kan. Together they started work to turn them into reliable and useful markers for synthetic biology.

Enter Victoria Geaney, a conceptual fashion designer who had been exploring synthetic biology, fluorescent proteins and bioluminescence in her work. After meeting Bernardo at a SynBio SRI Seminar, together they created a living fashion installation featuring a dress covered with gelified Photobacterium Kishitanni bacteria, which created an eerie blue glow.


one could see fashion becoming biological, where we might one day grow ‘living light’ garments for future fashions, wearing living garments and growing bacteria to make our own clothes"

Victoria Geaney of the Royal College of Art 

After initially featuring in the 2015 Cambridge E-Luminate Festival and achieving local and design press coverage, the piece was featured in the February edition of WIRED UK Magazine, providing some fantastic professional photographs of the dress and it's galactic patterns of glowing bacteria. The magazine has a circulation of over 50,000 and over 5 million web page views a month, providing fantastic exposure for the work. Although the publication is known for championing Silicon Valley start-ups and the latest on-tend tech, these researchers they don't expect bioluminescent fashion to hit the commercial market just yet.


I don't like the hype. We're not thinking about doing what you've seen in San Francisco in the startup world. Right now, it's about the science.

Bernardo Pollak, PhD Student in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge


View the full article and amazing image at WIRED UK >>



Filed under:


The Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative provides a hub for anyone interested in Synthetic Biology at the University of Cambridge, as well as commercial partners and external collaborators.