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07/05/2015

Vegan Leather

“Vegan Leather!”

He was a big lad, good build, certainly one of those who practiced sports at some college in the USA.

“you’re pulling my leg” she said with her Southern England  accent.

“Hey lady, you say things like that to a guy where I come from…”

“I mean, you’re joking”

“Hey! No joke! Vegan leather!”

Yes, it looks like leather  it, might feel like it, but there is no animal in this.

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Purely vegan.

Veganism /ˈviːɡənɪzəm/ is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in one’s diet.

“Wow…” she said touching the surface of the cushion in a totally new way: “un-be-lie-va-ble” she  said

“yeah!”

“how come? I mean, you don’t look like the vegan kind of chap”

“A guy need his proteins…but I can change my diet if you think I should…”

“pure curiosity, of the innocent kind, if you see what I mean?” she interrupted.

“Gotcha!” he said a bit like a baseballer checking the bowler who just kicked him out of the game.

This scene could have happened at the trade shows where Po! Paris has been exhibiting the new “vegan leather” collections.

Why on earth do this? vegan leather? Do we need vegan leather? There is enough beef skin being brought from the food industry to have a vast supply of leather.

Well, at Po! Paris we take no notice of such practical facts.

There are of course many reasonable arguments against the hyper industrialisation of the meat industry, but one should admit we just happened to get involved, and simply accepted the challenge. We had the chance to be there when a group of fabulous women were asking something super positive to happen and we just contributed with our point of view.

The tree grows in their land, the art of making the oldest known fabric is practiced by men of their country since records were ever put in writing. All we needed was to come up with an idea.

“We have barkcloth!” said one of the women during that first meeting in Kampala. She was black, he had more of a pink complexion, feeling somehow inadequate, inquiring what local material could be used for making new products.

“Barkcloth!” they all repeated, till someone started with a drum and the italian coordinator was flying on a field of arms laughing, everybody going crazy, the American waiting for his turn and the pink man hoping the approaching storm will get him out of it.

crazy

Yes, barkcloth. You can’t say “no” to barkcloth. No one can.

You have to use it, touch it, make something out of it.

Beautiful material, the art of one tribe in Uganda. Anybody in contact with this material feels compelled to do something about it. Cultural heritage of humanity, the Unesco people felt compelled to say.

And here we are. No missionaries; pink, but, nevertheless, no missionaries.Invited to do something together with this group of women who have the greatest enthusiasm in the world.

We were just captivated by the material and the people so we developed Mutuba skin, a derivative of the barkcloth through a special process to make it viable for, let’s say, a “durable use in the modern household”. We’l let our sports chap say that. It just sounds better.

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