‘Malai Biomaterials Design’ is a Kerala based company, producing a bio-composite material, which is a sustainable alternative to leather, using raw materials such as coconut water and banana fibres.
It was founded by Susmith Suseelan, an experienced product designer from Kerala, teamed up with Zuzana Gombosva, designer and material researcher from Slovakia that have developed a new vegan leather called ‘Malai’.
Malai is a flexible bio-composite material, made from organic bacterial cellulose, grown on waste source from the coconut industry of southern India. The company works with the local coconut farmers and processing units, collecting their wastes and coconut waste water as the bi-product from the harvesting.
Normally, these waste water would be released into drainage system but these can lead to water pollution and the surrounding soil to become acidified. Instead, the company uses the waste water into sterilising the coconut water for the bacterial culture to feed on.
The fermentation process results in a sheet of cellulose jelly, which is subsequently harvested, refined, air dried and enriched with natural plant biased materials to become the leather style products.
The company produces different types of fashion accessories with its flexible and durable bio-composite materials. Malai leather has no plastic coatings or any synthetic ingredients, giving it an all-natural sustainable edge.