Reaction on review “Fruitleather Rotterdam”
Original review by Nandi, reaction by Vera
If I were to place this project into one of the Social Design Fields, it would have to be Sustainability. The project tackles multiple problems (waste and leftover material, polluting leather industries, and lack of resources) with one solution (or project), fruitleather.
I believe the strengths of this project are, first of all, that it is super ecofriendly. The materials used are both organic and biodegradable (because it’s just “normal” fruit). The material is sustainable, which is very trendy at the moment. Loads of people are getting more and more into sustainable living and sustainable products, so this is a great project to latch onto that movement in society.
Apart from this material being ecofriendly, it is also a cheaper (and cleaner, which makes it cheaper again) material than leather, which would make it not only more accessible to a lot of people, but also more likely to become a (partial) replacement to real leather.
Lastly, it solves several problems (as I mentioned earlier). The project also raises awareness for these problems, which is, according to me, also a great strength of this project.
The weaknesses of this project are likely that people are unfamiliar with the material and that they could be skeptical of it. Real leather is a high quality product. Leather items usually have a very long lifespan (for example a leather jacket I have been wearing almost every day for the past seven years which is still in reasonably great condition). I doubt a lot of people would be willing to blindly give up these high quality, durable items in exchange for something new or unknown that they (or anyone they know) have no personal experience with.
Apart from the durability of the material and willingness of people to actually trade their comfortable, familiar items with something new, I have my doubts about the smell of the product. This might be different for everyone (just like everyone has a different opinion on the smell of leather), but personally, I wouldn’t want all the things in my bag smelling like fruit preserves or even rotten fruit. The project (/material) would have to be more developed (as Nandi mentions in her review) before it could be fully functional.
I feel like this project is mainly digestive with subversive hints. The reason I would put this project towards the digestive side is because it gives a solution for existing problems and does not necessarily question authority, but a subversive aspect of this project is that this material is radically different from real leather and how it’s produced.
As for the other “axis”, I would say this project leans more to the auto-relational side. It is the decision of the designers what products (for example, bags or jackets) are made with the material, what those products look like, and what the material looks like (which I believe can be influenced, looking at the enclosed pictures). The project has, in my opinion, allo-relational sides too, for example that there’s a second party (next to the designing party) that delivers the materials needed.