About the Artist

Van Blankensteyn is a collaboration between designer Guido Marsille and Zero Waste Consultant Alexander Prinsen. They draw inspiration from the history of Van Blankensteyn soap factory in Rotterdam. The story goes back to 1902 when this water distillery started to produce soap for the neighbourhood. Since 2015 Guido and Alexander decided to rediscover his soap making skills and started producing their own local organic soap. The two follow the ideas of Gunter Pauli, the author of The Blue Economy. A blue economy is another way of economic thinking, in which the basic needs are met by what is available locally. This idea is based on how nature works and on collaboration instead of competition. Van Blankensteyn applies artistic research which makes it possible to image the impossible. To reach this goal Van Blankensteyn seeks for collaboration with scientists, corporations and schools to develop an inclusive local production model.

About the Search Question

Van Blankensteyn started their search on the campus by asking a very simple question: “How do we keep the campus clean with local resources?” They went to a variety of experts, from biologists, chemist, physicians, and cleaning ladies, kitchen staff and gardeners. Their approach creates commonality of purpose how various specialisms can work together to answer this simple question. Looking at local food waste on campus they discovered an abundance of orange peel waste. An orange peel is garbage in the food processing industry, but could be a valuable resource for making soap. For the Department of Search, Marsille and Prinsen set up a cleaning production unit using the waste stream of orange peels. By observing nature the orange in its original habitat, they started to study the biotope around the orange tree. How do tree roots collaborate with the soil, bacteria, oranges and weather circumstances? By combining observations from looking at the tree and knowledge from chemistry, biology and engineering they started a fermentation lab searching for the perfect balance in extracting the useful resources for cleaning products. Van Blankensteyn introduces natural fermentation processes to transform orange peels into cleaning products. Their approach is a radical new way of thinking about waste, hygiene and the perception of cleaning.


Collaboration Partners

Utrecht University 

Assisting in Biochemistry & Microbiology expertise

Program Bio-inspired Innovation

Botanical Garden

Antibacterial research project by honors students

Department of Biology
Professor dr. H. Wösten , Microbology
dr. H. de Cock, Microbiology
dr. J. Appelman, Program manager Bio-inspired Innovation

HU-University of Applied Sciences Utrecht

Assisting in Product development

Institute for Life Sciences & Chemistry (ILC) +

Research group Innovative Testing in Life Sciences & Chemistry (INT)

2nd year students projectteam Biokatalyse & Polymerisatie

3rd year InternshipChemical Technology students

Utrecht Science Park

University Utrecht, Facility Service Centre

Sodexo, Orange Peel Waste supplier

Asito, Cleaning Agent application


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Department of Search

The initiative of the Department of Search was taken by the Aardschap Foundation and the municipality of Utrecht in collaboration with the Utrecht Science Park Foundation and Universitity Utrecht. The Zero Footprint Campus programme is also made possible by The Art of Impact, Mondriaan Fonds, provincie Utrecht, K.F. Hein Fonds, Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds en Stichting Doen.


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