GRADO ZERO INNOVATION
Founded: Grado Zero Espace, 2001
Grado Zero Innovation, 2017
Headquarters: Florence, Italy
Grado Zero Innovation (GZI) is a spin-off of Grado Zero Espace, a company with nearly 20 years of experience developing new materials and technologies for industrial application. GZI conducts research and development in many areas, including performance materials and technologies for furnishing, automotive, and medical applications as well as custom textiles, yarns, and fibers, among many others. Their extensive network of laboratories and skilled researchers, innovators, and developers allows them to adapt and combine materials and technologies to determine the best applications and performances. GZI also offers consulting services in design, development, and rapid prototyping, taking the product life cycle into account at every stage. GZI regularly releases innovative products and materials. In this profile, we review their Muskin as a leather alternative.
Muskin is a leather alternative that resembles suede and is made from the Phellinus ellipsoideus species of fungus that grows on subtropical forest trees.
Production process: Mechanical/Chemical
Muskin is made by slicing and pressing pieces of the Phellinus ellipsoideus mushroom. Although it can be attached to a backing, sealed, or dyed, the company normally sells pieces without any chemical processing.
Muskin is made entirely from a fungus and is therefore more sustainable than animal leather in a variety of categories, including land and water use, chemical use, animal welfare, and biodegradability. Although the fungi used grow much more quickly than cows, it is unclear how the fungi are harvested and how much production could scale up before fungal resources would be depleted.
Because Muskin is cut from the mushroom itself, size and shape varies. Each piece is unique, with a suede-like look and feel. The color may not be uniform on the piece itself and among pieces from different mushrooms. The company admits that Muskin is not as strong as animal leather, but suggests using backing materials and/or coatings to increase strength. Durability depends on the application. Dyes that are darker than the piece color can be applied.
Production capacity is between 40 and 50 m² per month. Muskin is sold by the piece, and available in sizes from Small to X-large. Samples for purchase available here.
FASHION, FOOTWEAR, ACCESSORIES, HOME GOODS
Muskin is applicable for special edition products in fashion, footwear, accessories, and home goods.
Images from Grado Zero Innovation.