- story by MaterialDistrict
Malai is a flexible, biocomposite material made from organic bacterial cellulose, grown on agricultural waste sourced from the coconut industry in Southern India. The material has a feel comparable to leather or paper. It is water resistant and certified vegan.
The manufacturer works with the local farmers and processing units, collecting their waste coconut water, a by-product from harvesting the flesh, and re-purposing it to feed the bacteria’s cellulose production. One small coconut-processing unit can collect 4000 litres of water per day, which can be used to make 320 sq. metres of Malai.
The material is produced in sheets with a range of thicknesses, and can also be moulded seamlessly into three-dimensional objects. It is available in a range of colours achieved through the use of mordant-free natural dyes, and it can develop a soft sheen or patina over time.