To make something valuable, trendy, and one of a kind, is every designer’s dream. This is exactly what the team at Malai Bio materials, a material research and design studio, based in Kerala, India has been doing. Add to that, their designs are made from bio-based material fermented on coconut water and natural fibers coming from agricultural waste stream; a kind of innovation that we need more, everywhere.
The Southern states of India, especially Kerala, is known for it coconut trees, and is even referred to as the land of coconuts and garden of spices. Malai, has developed bio-composite material made entirely from organic and sustainable bacterial cellulose, grown on agricultural waste sourced from the coconut industry. It is water resistant and it will not cause any allergies, since it’s made from completely natural and organic produce.
Coconut water is often discarded after removing the white flesh from inside the mature coconuts, which is one of the staple ingredient in many food items in the southern parts of India, also gaining popularity in Western countries. This coconut water, otherwise wasted, is collected and placed into vats to sterilize it, giving an energy-rich, natural nutrient which is then used as feed for bacterial culture. The best part of this process, is that, most of it is naturally done. The fermentation may take up to 14 days, caused naturally by bacteria, after which a sheet of cellulose ‘jelly’ will be produced. This jelly is further processed to be refined, enriched with natural fibers, gums and resins, which helps to make it more durable and flexible. These are then formed into flat sheets in a range of thicknesses and textures, or can even be molded seamlessly into 3D structures. Natural dyes can be added to get the product in a variety of colors.
It is then left to air-dry, and then softened by applying gentle water-resistance treatment, which is also done without using any plastic coating or synthetic ingredients.
For all the ethical fashionistas out there, Malai offers the best solution, with this vegan, biodegradable, recyclable and all natural materials. This innovative research team offers a great way to deal with agricultural waste, and turning into products of beautiful design, with responsible methods of processing and manufacturing.
You can view their collection online on their website.