Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven | Tulip Pigments
Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven is a product design studio, however in a very different way. We design value chains, from raw material all the way up to product and the consumer experience. Because our projects are so new, different and sometimes radical we like to experiment, test and design the entire value chain to finish with a Proof of Principle.
Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven, Tjeerd Veenhoven, Groningen, Palmleer, palm leather, huis veendam, material development, Sustainable Business, Global Change Award, social entrepreneur, social entrepreneurship and sustainability
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Tulip Pigments

Every year more than 10.000 hectares of tulips are grown on the fertile grounds of the Netherlands. They are not grown for the flowers but for the precious bulbs in the ground. The Dutch Tulips are a century old export product and very much part of Dutch Heritage. However, this agricultural process of growing bulbs puts a great strain on nature due to the large amount of fertilizers and pesticides used. The most of the industry can be perceived as not sustainable. Only a few bulb-farmers in the Netherlands made the switch to organic farming.


At the end of April, tulips are headed throughout the Netherlands to give the bulbs in the ground more energy to grow. Per hectare, this can be 500,000 tulip heads. Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven (STV), in collaboration with John and Johanna Huiberts (Huiberts Biologische Bloembollen), harvested 800.000 flower heads which were collected and dried in large crates in the farmer’s own drying facility. After drying for several weeks the heads are ground into a powder (max 40 mu). As the tulip has a genetically determined color, the colour of the pigment is the same every year. The pigment powder is now suitable for use in various applications as a colorant. John has experienced that his organic bubs are now strong and resilient to many of the changes in the weather due to climate change, however, being an organic bulb farmer brings certain risks and the occasional lower yield. Being able to create more economic value from his crops by making organic pigments from the tulip petals can cushion the fluctuations in yield.

John Huiberts is a flower bulb grower. After taking over his parents business, who initially had a mixed farm with dairy cows and flower bulbs, John specialized in bulb cultivation. After more than 30 years of conventional cultivation, he switched to growing organic bulbs. John has also specialized in soil and has become a soil coach. His wife Johanna does, among other things, product development and marketing within an organic flower bulb company. She also provides naturopathic advice and deals with plant enhancers. Johanna has also written a tulip bulb cookbook with delicious and surprising recipes with edible tulip bulbs and tulip flowers. When Tjeerd Veenhoven walked through the field with Johanna he was given tulip flower petals to taste, they were delicious, with a mild sweet and sharp flavor to them. Everything that grows on the field s at Huiberts Biologische Bloembollen is safe to eat, the flowers we harvested even have a food-grade certificate.


STV has been working on the tulip pigment project for over 7 years, over this period many experiments were conducted. Tulip pigments have been used to make sustainable paints and inks, with mixed results. The main challenge with organic pigment is that they are susceptible to loss of color due to ultraviolet light and oxidation when exposed to air. Only by using rather toxic chemistry this effect can be reduced. STV has chosen to not use this chemistry and embraced this change of color as part of the design. The decay of the color and vibrance is typically seen as unwanted but due to the increased awareness of the use of toxins in our wearable textiles by consumers the less pronounced colors are becoming more appreciated. STV has developed low energy coloring techniques to color linen and cotton with tulip pigment.

Materials, Research