Innovation That Matters

Sunflower cluster | Photo source Photo by Stanislav Štajer on Unsplash

Design studio creates leather and glue from sunflowers


Vegetal glue, leather and polystyrene are formed using only natural products of the crop

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Spotted: The Netherlands’ Studio Thomas Vailly has made a full range of design materials using only sunflower plants. These include bio versions of polystyrene and leather and a non-toxic, natural glue and varnish. The process uses every part of the agricultural crop, including stalks and leaves, which would normally be left to rot in the field.

After the farmers harvest the seeds, the studio further heats and presses the leftover material to produce the materials. Pressing the hard, outer shell of the stalk creates hardboard, while the inner portion forms the core of an eco-version of lightweight polystyrene.

“A vast number of applications of what was previously considered waste becomes possible. Bio-based materials are not to be seen as a replacement for their synthetic counterparts, they have different qualities that can be exploited,” Vailly told

The Luma Foundation and Stimuleringsfond creative industry provided funding for the project. The studio also worked closely with scientists from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Ingénieurs en Arts Chimiques Et Technologiques (ENSIACET) laboratory in developing the materials.




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