Luxury Interior Designer & Architecture in Denver

Working towards a future without the toxins associated with petroleum-based products, there is an increasing number of materials being developed that are attractive, durable and healthy for both you and the planet.  One such material that our interior designclients are beginning to request is veganleather.

It’s hard to discuss leather alternatives without getting into the practical and ecological factors about leather itself; but, we’ll save that for another day!

Until recently, leather alternatives consisted mainly of petroleum-based vinyl fabrics, made primarily with polyurethane (PU) or polyvinylchloride (PVC).  Both are known to cause cancer and environmental poisoning, with PVC being the more detrimental to humans.  We now have reason to celebrate, as leaders in the science of plant-based materials are creating products that will stand up to the day-to-day trials that we put them through – even for your favorite sofa!

Industry leadersare testing materials for strength and longevity, with the realization that if the materials don’t last as long aswhat they’re replacing, the ecological benefits are lost.  Like all advancements, it’s easy to predict that our available home furnishing options will greatly increase in the next few years.

Some of the most promising and sustainable leather replacements are either 100% plant-based or use a very small amount of PU.  Here are a few companies making a difference…

Mirum is made from natural rubber, plant-based oil, natural pigments, and minerals; zero petrochemicals.  They have been partnering with many fashion houses – Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren, and Camper, to name a few – and have entered the automotive and furniture industries.

Tom-Tex isn’t technically vegan, as it’s made from a biopolymer that comes from shrimp shells and mushroom waste.  It is still one of the few leather alternatives that is completely petroleum-free.  Alden Wicker, the editor-in-chief of EcoCult, notes, “It will be at least a year before we know if this young startup lives up to its promises, but so far I am very excited about this material. It’s 100% bio-based, biodegradable, non-toxic to the point of being edible, made from waste, performs as well as leather, and promises to be affordable.”Wicker says she has seen a two-year-old TômTex wallet, owned by the brand’s founder, Uyen Tran. “It still looks amazing.”

Reishi by Mycoworks is a mushroom-based leather. It is made by growing mycelium directly on cotton or other fabric backings, then is finished with either a petroleum or plant-based coating. According to a peer-reviewed life cycle assessment that was published late last year, Reishi has less than 1% polymer (plastic) content, the lowest of the plant-PU hybrids.The LCA suggests Reishi’s carbon footprint is 2.76kg per meter squared – just 8% of real leather’s average footprint and less than most alternative leathers. It also has a luxurious feel that is close to the real thing.  The fabric’s highest profile adopter is Hermes. We encourage all to experiment, even if just “putting your toes in the water”, giving these and other non-toxic materials a try.  We all benefit from a healthy home and planet. Stephen Kohlbeck Interiors is pleased to provide furniture to our clients covered in these exciting vegan leathers as well as home furnishings and finishes that are safe foryou, your family, and the environment.

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