Soft Blues: Beauty and Function from Leather Industry Waste

The ‘Soft Blues’ collection by Sam Linders explores the extensive design possibilities of wet blue fibre shavings, a byproduct of the chrome leather tanning process that the leather industry currently pays money to dispose of. Soft Blue’s new applications and designs made with this so-called ‘waste’ material serve as a beautiful and sustainable inspiration for interior product and leather tanning manufacturers.

Keeping the characteristic soft blue colour of the material that comes from the chrome tanning process, Linders creates designs that are lightweight and feature a variety of looks, thicknesses, shapes and uses.

Wet blue shavings can, for example, be formed into flat and thin materials that are as foldable and fragile with paper. Half-transparencies, surface embossments or rough textures are some of the finishing possibilities.

Some of the minimalistic round shapes featured within the series share the aesthetics of stone or marble, with a soft and smooth touch. Others shapes have a rough look, like dried skin or cracked ground.

Sam Linders developed the initial idea for the Soft Blues collection while undertaking an internship at Ecco Leather in Dongen, the Netherlands. As a company, Ecco Leather seeks to reduce waste material to a minimum, as well minimize and reuse the water required for their leather processing. Dealing with wet blue shavings however is one aspect of their processing techniques that they had not yet found a sustainable solution for and so here, Linders saw potential for improvement and development. Soft Blues was the result!

With major natural resources dwindling, durability, sustainability and the origins of materials are becoming increasingly important aspects of a product. Material recycling and the reuse of waste materials are thus becoming increasingly essential in the development of future products, with Soft Blues serving as a great example.