Leather is a relatively common material and, according to Jorge Penadés, it is also one of the most inefficiently produced materials. I was astonished to discover that Only 13% of a hide is considered top quality, 43% of the hide is considered good quality, and the rest is fair or poor and often just thrown away. Penadés introduced an experimental Project inspired by certain principles of Japanese Culture; “mottainai a term that conveys a deep sense of regret concerning waste and boroboro that celebrated the beauty in something frayed, decaying or repaired, demonstrating a vast esteem for our available resources and labor”. The project resulted in structural skin, a 100% organic material made entirely from leather offcuts and any other material used during leather production. This concept of recycling materials and giving them new applications is becoming increasingly popular, and one that I find rather intriguing. I also question why more material production companies do not look into ways to reuse the “waste” that they create.
Structural skin is produced by cutting, soaking, and compressing leather scraps into new forms. It has good compressive strength, sound and heat isolation, is relatively flexible and is an excellent fire-retardant. Structural Skin has an impressive visual language and aesthetic appeal. Penadés is currently working on different color combinations. As of right now, structural skin is used mainly for interior furnishing and décor. It would be difficult to use on the façade of a building due to its lack of weather resistance. However, further exploration of its interior application could result in some beautiful interior spaces.