A group of undergraduates from Willem de Kooning Academie have taken it upon themselves to solve one of South Holland’s biggest social issues: food waste. Every day, Rotterdam’s market vendors discard more than 7,700 pounds of overripe or cosmetically unattractive produce. Inspired by a technique that chefs use to mash, cook, and then dry fruits to create a candy-like “leather,” the students—Hugo de Boon, Aron Hotting, Koen Meerkerk, Maaike Schoonen, Bart Schram, and Miloy Snoeijers—developed their own hide-like material, one that not only has a host of potential applications, including fashion, but also promotes awareness of the food we throw away.
The resulting textile, according to de Boon, isn’t unlike animal leather, with slight variances depending on the type of produce used.
“Every centimeter is unique. It is a material with a clear structure and texture, that differs by each type or fruit that is used”, he told AD.nl in July.
Among the prototypes the team created? A durable handbag made of mangoes, a shopping bag derived from nectarines, and a lampshade composed of pulped peaches.
De Boon and company are currently experimenting with different combinations of fruits and vegetables that might boost their so-called “fruitleather’s” strength and durability.
“A strawberry patch leather is quite fragile, tearing if you often fold,” he said. “Adding pumpkin or apple can change that.”