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When does the use of innovative, totally unexpected materials go too far? Some might say it’s when the word ‘excrement’ comes into the mix. But this project is unusual even beyond its use of a living creature’s bodily waste: the poo that designer Lieske Schreuder makes into carpet tiles comes in shockingly vivid colors, right out of the snails.

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The experiment began when the designer noted that paper is similar in cellular structure to that of the plants snails eat. Curious what would happen when snails were fed paper in single colors, Schreuder purchased hundreds of snails from a snail form and built a colored poo laboratory.

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A snail that eats blue paper produces blue excrement, and so on with each shade on the color spectrum. Why use snail poo? Apparently it’s highly malleable and easy to work with. Schreuder gathers it up, blends it together and then creates ‘threads’ of each color.

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Those threads are either woven or pressed into molds to create carpet tiles. The project is among 57 designs combining biology and art on display at Rotterdam’s The New Institute through January 5th, 2014.