Leather is a material we come into contact with on a daily basis. It may be through shoes, handbags, belts and other wearable items, or through furniture upholstered in leather. In design, it can be used to emphasize luxury, comfort, a link to nature or the Wild West. The look and quality of leather can say a lot about style and location, but does it ever say sustainable?
Ebony Crocodile. Designed by Ecodomo.
Perhaps leather is sustainable, at least in terms of it being a natural material that is somewhat renewable. In a mass produced setting such as leather furniture, the La-Z-Boy empire for example… is leather green? It takes between 25-40 years for leather shoes to decompose in a landfill, so a large leather armchair sounds less than sustainable to me. Recycled leather seems like an odd idea from a textural standpoint, but Ecodomo recycled leather tiles are an interesting reuse that still has the look and feel of the original.
Ecodomo collects scraps from shoe, furniture and other factories and grinds them to shreds using stones, much like the way paper is made. The shreds are then bound together with natural binding agents like Acacia bark and rubber, both of which are rapidly renewable. Recycled leather panels can be put on the floor or walls, and will wear better over time than natural hide leather. The panels are more stable and require less maintenance than traditional leather. As a luxurious addition to a space, leather is an interesting and unexpected treatment that can now be called green.