Carpets & mats

Palm leaf carpet – a vegan and sustainable alternative to cowhide

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The palm leaf carpet by the Dutch designer Tjeerd Veenhoven made of palm leaf material, which is called “Palm Lather”, is a sustainable and vegan alternative to traditional leather made from animal skin. For the area of ​​the carpets, thin strips of the material are hand finished and attached to a woven backing before they are cut to size. Any inconsistencies or folds in the stripes are retained to give the finished palm leaf rug a patterned look and texture.

The story behind the palm leaf carpet

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The Dutch designer Veenhoven began experimenting with leather made from palm leaves eight years ago after becoming interested in the natural fibers of the leaves of the tree. He asked an acquaintance in India to send the material so that he could examine it. “In my material research, I found that the material is extremely brittle and not very useful. But if you soften it with a special solution of glycerine and water and some other active ingredients, you can use it, ”explained Veenhoven.

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The designer and his atelier developed and refined the “leather” and tested it by making products with various companies. First they experimented with the production of the carpets in Holland before the team tested the production in an Indian factory. The palm leaf rug is currently being manufactured in a factory in the Dominican Republic where the locals have experience with green initiatives, i.e. have the necessary quality controls and can deliver directly to consumers.

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In addition to the carpets, the studio hopes to sell the palm leather as a standalone product. The interest of the extremely demanding automobile companies, which have recently become increasingly interested in vegan alternatives to leather cars, is very great. Veenhoven explained that the perception of palm leather has changed over the years, from an initial interest in possible use as an alternative to artificial leather substitutes to the current interests of the vegan material.

Versatility and rustic charm

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The designer explains that the palm leaf carpet is initially much more of a potential substitute for leather-like materials, neoprene or plastics. After Veenhoven, that was the first catch for most people. Then the invention was connected a bit with the reinvention of the craft, which was also a topic of discussion. How can craftsmen actually design more contemporary? Interestingly, the past two years have been about being vegan.

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Veenhoven believes that the trend towards vegan food and buying vegan products for the home has been driven by real problems in the world. This includes the need to reduce the amount of meat we eat. We need to focus more on plant systems, and we need to promote them more because they are essential to our livelihood. The designer experiments with many alternative materials and systems in his studio in Groningen, North Holland.

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These views echo Nicolas Roope, who said that avoiding a global catastrophe will be the greatest challenge in history in response to the recent UN report on climate change. In 2016, the Campana brothers Fernando and Humberto covered a house in Sao Paolo with palm fiber, which gave it a hairy consistency. For this reason, the graduate Billie van Katwijk made an alternative leather from cow stomachs and not from their fur last year.

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