You’ve probably heard of kombucha tea — that bubbly, fermented, sorta vingeary drink lining the shelves of your health food store. But did you know it can make clothes?

If you’re science-loving fashion designer Suzanne Lee, you know. She coaxes the bacteria in the drink to expel a material for designing clothes.

How? "Tea, sugar, a few microbes and a little time," she says in her talk at TED2011. “I’m essentially using a kombucha recipe,” she says, “which is a symbiotic mix of bacteria, yeasts and other micro-organisms, which spin cellulose in a fermentation process. Over time, these tiny threads form in the liquid into layers and produce a mat on the surface.” Watch the whole talk here»

Above, some of Suzanne’s creations made from her kombucha-based material as part of the BioCouture research project.

And for a super cool complement to this talk, check out this talk from TEDxVienna about fabric … you spray on.

(All photos Suzanne Lee & BioCouture)

A TEDx language playlist: 5 TEDx Talks in Japanese


Konichiwa! Welcome to the first TEDx playlist in Japanese. Below, 5 great Japanese-language TEDx Talks, on topics ranging from Harajuku fashion to the mechanics of an insect eye.


Fashion and Beyond [日本語]: Rei Shito at TEDxTokyo
We can’t have a Japanese playlist without a talk about Harajuku. At TEDxTokyo, join Rei Shito on a visual journey through the streets of Harajuku as she explores the structure of this vibrant fashion community.(Filmed in Japanese. English version here.)

ファッション、その先にあるもの: シトウレイ at TEDxTokyo

My, myself and my android [日本語]: Hiroshi Ishiguro [石黒 浩]: TEDxSeeds
At TEDxSeeds, Hiroshi Ishiguro (and his android) philosophize over human/android relations as we become ever closer to bridging the gap between humans and androids.

半神: 石黒浩 at TEDxSeeds

End Slavery in Japan [日本語]: Shihoko Fujiwara at TEDxTokyo
At TEDxTokyo, Shihoko Fujiwara discusses the problem of sex trafficking in Japan, and looks at how the commodification of sex is affecting Japanese youth. (Filmed in Japanese. English version here.)

日本における人身取引の根絶に向けて: 藤原志帆子 at TEDxTokyo

Rebuilding the city [日本語]: Masayuki Shimada at TEDxTohoku 2012
The day after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Masayuki Shimada started a food project which eventually grew to provide more than 20,000 meals to people in evacuation centers. After the success of the cookouts, Shimada branched out with other projects to revitalize spirit in the community and reverse the declining population of Tōhoku with new employment opportunities.

地域の生きる力を育むプロジェクト: 島田昌幸 at TEDxTohoku

 [日本語]: Kenji Kohiyama at TEDxKeioSFC
At TEDxKeioSFC, Kenji Kohiyama shows off his micro insect archiving project, featuring some beautiful photos of the fascinating insects of Japan. (Filmed in Japanese. English version here.)

マイクロプレゼンス: 小檜山 賢二 at TEDxKeioSFC