The catalog of ecological leathers and coatings is now very wide. But not everyone makes the leap. That's what it takes for them to really hit the market

Among the latest arrivals are coffee grounds used as natural plastic, cocoa bean shells used to make furniture panels, recycled synthetic felt for give life to chairs and swings. And, again, the fungi which, when applied to cotton and hemp waste, generate material for sound-absorbing panels. From pineapple peels you get, on the other hand, a vegan skin that has nothing to envy to the texture of reptile skin and can be sewn, perforated and dyed according to taste, while the rice husk and husk become, mixed with clay and lime, the ingredient for an excellent performance bio-plaster.

Welcome to the world of new ecological materials, that constantly evolving catalog on which startuppers, designers and employees of the Research and Development departments fix, almost every day, new solutions for architecture, design, fashion. A frayed world with a thousand possibilities, where the first rule is courage but not always to the bet (and to a patent, which never as in this field is only the initial step and not a goal) follows the happy outcome of the market outlet and marketing.

"Basically, there are three springs that allow a new material to leave the world of research and find a place in the market", explains Anna Pellizzari, executive director of Materially, the agency that helps companies in the development and dissemination of innovation and sustainability starting from materials, this year's author of Neomateriali in the Circular Economy 2.0 (Edizioni Ambiente).

"The first, decisive push is undoubtedly economic convenience: a company uses an eco-friendly material if its cost is equal to or slightly higher than the traditional alternative, or if in any case the effort is offset by another type of advantage, for example in terms of communication and visibility. Public opinion, in fact, can represent a second decisive spring in tipping the balance in favor of this type of investment. The third spring, more obvious but often decisive, is the law: when regulations oblige us to take the path of sustainability, all that remains is to gear up. At that point, companies know they can draw on a catalog of solutions tested by those who dedicate work and care every day to help the industry make truly ecological choices ".

An essay from this catalog was, in the last Milanese design week, the WasteEnders exhibition curated by Pellizzari in the space of Materially at SuperstudioPiù , where the stories of brands such as Cofeefrom, Kajkao, Madrepora, Mogu, Ricehouse, Verabuccia and many other companies.

A fourth spring can be the desire or the need, for a company, to renew itself and try new paths, expanding processes and know-how and diversifying the offer starting from sustainability. It is from this impulse that Skin was born, the new upholstery for interiors and architecture that Alessandro Ciffo has recently designed for Sargomma. On the one hand, the artist / designer famous for bringing silicone into galleries with his ironic and colorful creations. On the other hand, a Piedmontese company with forty years of history in the automotive world, specializing in the processing of rubber and plastic components.

“I saw Ciffo's vases at the Dilmos gallery in Milan” says general manager Brigitte Sardo “and it was a shock. Behind those creations there was the inventiveness that could interpret our company and take it a few steps further, towards new solutions that could be used both in architecture and in the automotive sector, a sector where the personalization of interiors opens up increasingly interesting scenarios for a reality like ours ".

Skin is, in fact, a "skin" manufactured by mixing silicone scraps of Sargomma and virgin material. The practices of recycling materials such as silicone and rubbers are still not very industrialized and widespread and, therefore, Skin initially aimed for reuse and upcycling, to explode the color on the new material in the patent phase, which at the moment covers a container for commercial use hosted by Rossana Orlandi. "My dream" says the artist " is to create a skyscraper with Skin. We had to leave somewhere - he smiles - The journey has just begun”.