The Observer Design Magazine
We couldn’t be more humbled to announce that we’ve been featured as one of the designers that could potentially change the world in today’s The Observer Design Magazine. This of course wouldn’t be made possible without a collective effort and vision as well as all of the incredible materials and their designers doing such groundbreaking work!
At her studio in Hackney, east London, material designer Seetal Solanki sifts through her library. One of the materials she singles out is called malai, a substance made from bacteria in coconut water. Sourced from farmers in southern India it’s a byproduct of the white flesh harvested from coconuts. The water ferments in vats for two weeks, during which time a sheet of cellulose jelly forms. Mixed with natural fibres and resins, this jelly can be manufactured into small “leather” goods.
“Some of these materials are happy accidents,” says Solanki. “But mostly, each is the result of rigorous research and development. There is no point making a material just for the sake of it.”
Solanki studied textile design at Central Saint Martins before working across fashion, architecture, lighting and automotive design for over a decade. “I always questioned my role. There was so much waste produced because material designers simply weren’t fully integrated in the process. I wanted to create a place for material designers to feel understood.”
Photography David Leven and words by Nell Card.