As sustainability becomes more important to consumers, home goods companies are getting more creative to find ways to reduce the environmental impact of their products. And leather alternatives have become a big part of that push.
The latest alternative to traditional hides comes from biotechnology firm MycoWorks, which recently brought its Reishi Fine Mycelium faux leather product to furniture maker Ligne Roset’s home furnishings.
Reishi, which has mostly been used in apparel and automotive applications, is made from mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms. MycoWorks uses custom-grown mushrooms that offer more fullness to give the material a more natural, leather-like look and feel. A proprietary process interlocks cellular structures in the mushroom material to create a stronger, more durable product.
“MycoWorks engineers mycelium, the fine network of threads that grow to form mushrooms as it grows, and one of the earth’s most powerful agents of regeneration and carbon sequestration,” said Fred Martel, senior vice president of sales and business development, MycoWorks. “Through their patented Fine Mycelium process, MycoWorks allows sheets of Reishi to be customized for thickness, weight, and shape. This is a level of control that isn’t possible with animal leathers.”
Animal leathers generate a fairly significant amount of waste due to imperfections in hides that must be cut off and disposed. But leather alternatives such as Reishi or Portugalia Cork—which produces a leather-like product using cork—don’t have this problem, reducing waste and improving flexibility of the design process.
“Fine Mycelium allows for a wider range of design possibilities, minimizes waste, and ensures consistent quality,” Martel said. “Instead of designing to the limitations of available materials, designers have creative control to design from the material on up.”
That flexibility was one of the selling points for Ligne Roset to adopt the material.
“We have been waiting for years for a natural, sustainable material that meets our quality standards and our customers’ expectations,” said Antoine Roset, marketing director, Groupe Roset. “We believe Reishi is the answer.”
Ligne Roset will launch Reishi in its product line with a limited-edition pillow collection, dubbed Teneo, with plans to use the material in additional applications going forward.
“Ligne Roset is a global leader in forward-thinking, contemporary furniture design, and MycoWorks is at the forefront of material innovation with roots in the furniture world through their first exploration in mycelium furniture,” Martel said. “These shared values made this partnership a natural fit for each brand to embrace a new vertical of innovation.”