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Design spotlight: 3 creative alternatives to leather

Christel Trinquier

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Design spotlight: 3 creative alternatives to leather

A multi-material, multi-process and multi-sector resource center, FCBA’s Innovathèque is Europe’s very first materials library, founded 20 years ago. Among the 2,200 references on offer, 99% are ready to be industrialized. Sourced from the autumn issue of Formes de Luxe, we highlight three novel solutions.

Ictyos - marine leather 

The range’s farmed sturgeon hides (the former Leviso range) are presented as a sustainable alternative to exotic leathers, and are distinguished from Squama (salmon skins sourced from the restaurant sector) by their thickness and unique grain offering random constellations of bumps and cartilage spicules. Made in France, these marine leathers are metal-free—no chrome is used in the vegetal tanning process. Their life span is comparable to that of bovine leathers and tensile strength is superior to conventional leathers—ample reasons to attract sectors including watchmaking, upholstery and leather goods, to name a few.

StoneLeaf - mineral leather

The material is shaped from slate and mica using a process that applies a layer of resin and cotton-like fiber (vinyl acetate and ethylene acetate) on the mineral surface, which is pulled off after drying. This technique results in 100% natural, ultra-thin (0.8mm to 1mm) flexible, resistant and lightweight stone sheets weighing in at less than 300g/m2. Available in around 30 colors, StoneLeaf+ can be sewn like leather, is thermoformable, can be used as a sheath or shaped to chosen patterns and/or reliefs on any type of surface.

Studio Sarmite - wood leather

With PineSkins, designer Sarmite Polakova has created a red herring: to the eye, the material resembles wood, but to the touch is like leather. PineSkins is made of inner bark from pine trees. Inspired by Scandinavia’s Sami craft tradition, this wooden leather gives a second life to the forest industry’s by-products. Taken from freshly felled trees, the bark is treated in an environmentally friendly softening bath, is colored with natural pigments and then waxed. This vegetal leather can be sewn, braided, knit or laser-cut. The material retains its distinctive pine scent over time.

This article was originally published in the Fall issue of our sister publication Formes de Luxe.

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