Fabrics that are born from citrus fruits, from plastic, from marble waste. Journey into the latest ecological wave that is about to hit the world of furniture

To be sustainable, you need the right stuff. Leathery or impalpable, silky and shiny. But, above all, beautiful and ready for the big leap. A generous wave of ecological beauty is about to hit the world of furniture textiles. To move it is a series of companies and startups born most of the time by injecting sustainability into fashion and finally mature for the home and furniture, including luxury, a dimension with more complex performances than those of fashion, but which, after a path of growth, many companies are now able to ensure.

“Sustainability is now an essential value: after the phase of doubt – fashion or genuine interestthe market has come to ask for it, putting an end to the debate”, says Gian Paolo Venierart director of the Friulian company Abitex which will shortly present a new fabric with the elastic properties of a chewing-gum (hence the name, B-Chew) that make it perfect for covering haute couture seats.

B-Chew was born from the recycling of PET, after a sophisticated engineering that makes it perfect indoors and outdoors: “Not only does the fabric come from plastic, but also the thread, to avoid the paradox of sewing a quality material with another of a different quality”. A bet won under the level of research, and, not to be taken for granted, of aesthetics: “PET did not stop us from making B-Chew in palettes that a series of companies to which we have shown it in preview have already appreciated”.

To demonstrate that beauty and sustainability march happily together comes another story, that of the partnership between Fili Pari and Bentley Home. The first is the Milanese startup born in 2017 among the benches of the Politecnico di Milano from the intuition of Alice Zantedeschi and Francesca Pievani to make a fabric waterproof, abrasion-resistant and shiny by spreading it with the residual dust of marble processing; the second, the Luxury Living Group home brand born in 2013 to bring the excellence and style of the British automotive brand into the interior.

In this case, the partnership made it possible to launch Marm/More in furniture, the material patented by Fili Pari which had already made its debut in fashion with a collection of casual garments. “At the beginning, the challenge was to communicate that marble dust does not mean heavy fabric” tell the two entrepreneurs. Already after the debut in fashion, a lot of curiosity arose around Marm/More.

Bentley Home was the first brand to come forward in a convinced way: for the occasion, we adapted our membrane to the furniture, where more structured fabrics are needed, and developed the fabrics with our partner Limonta, another collaboration that makes the fabric totally made in Italy”. Technically, Marm/More is part of the imitation leather, a category that opens up infinite possibilities for Fili Pari in the world of furniture. And Wickham, the Bentley Home armchair born from the partnership, is the best business card to bring sustainability to the world of luxury.

Another reality born as a startup and now a consolidated company is making its debut in furniture with its history that began in fashion. Orange Fiber was founded in Catania in 2014 by Adriana Santonocito and Enrica Arena with the idea of transforming the pastazzo, waste from citrus fruit processing into a silky, impalpable and printable fabric, subtracting one hundred tons a year from the waste cycle and transforming a problem of disposal in opportunity. “Oranges and fashion design with a Mediterranean language beyond the stereotype”, Arena tells.

The showcase of Expo 2015, then the debut in 2017 with Ferragamo and the signature of Mario Trimarchi, the collaborations with H&M and E.Marinella and the opening, last October, of the new pilot plant in Sicily. And now the entry into TeclaMario Cucinella's sustainable habitat.

Read also: Mario Cucinella talks about the Tecla project, the 3D printed house

Seven years lived on the edge of success, one step at a time and without risk, “because sustainability is a bet that is won with the cards in order and at the right times” adds the entrepreneur. “From the beginning, Orange Fiber had attracted the interest of different sectors, but for the debut in furniture we needed to reach the required standards and performances, more complex than in fashion. Over time we have been able to develop fabrics with the versatility, washability and durability required by furniture, which now opens the doors to office coverings, acoustic solutions and, in general, interiors”. The right stuff, in fact.