Material Monday Insight: Achieving Transparent Leather

Material Monday Insight: Achieving Transparent Leather

Posted 9 July by Katie Kubrak

St Francis of Assisi said “Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” This quote feels very relevant to the perseverance, curiosity and material exploration showcased by partnership of Ecco and Sruli Recht. Through a meticulous study of ancient Egyptian and Greek techniques of tanning leather this collaboration achieved what some might have considered impossible – transparent leather. Sit tight and read on as this Material Monday we introduce you to this astonishing surface.

Named ‘Apparition’ for its spectral and almost ghostlike appearance, this soft transparent cow-skin leather is pliable, strong and easily workable and can be used for a wide range of applications. This material redefines both traditional aesthetic as well as tactile sensation of leather’s finish. With striking transparent visuals, which theoretically can be tinted with any colour imaginable, the latter can be described as waxed rubber-like sensation.

At the moment, the material comes in two substances and is available in ten hues including: natural amber, green, black, brown-orange, bone and blood red all of which have the translucent appearance. As it is supplied as flat sheets it can be sewn or glued to create 3D forms. Additionally, it is possible to print onto leather using a flatbed or dye sublimation printer, although, due to the nature and novelty of the surface testing is recommended.

In terms of creative use, a designer can utilise the unexpected transparency of this leather to create a distortion and other interesting visual effects through mono-material layering or layering in combination with different fabrics. Furthermore, as this translucent material is equipped with a highly desirable and tactile feel that isn’t synthetic, it has the potential to create an unexpected and surprising consumer experiences.

Lastly, it is worth mentioning that transparency is a theme, which is currently transcending not only design but politics and fashion also. ‘Apparition’ fits under the title of unexpected transparency where material innovations are bringing transparency to places we haven’t seen before and would never have expected. Admiring the work of fashion designer Sruli Recht, who used the translucent cow skin leather to create jackets, bags and shoes, consider what opportunities this material houses for your creative practice.

If you are interested to find out about other exciting materials we have in our material library or you would like to book one of our London Design Festival 2018 workshops, please feel free to get in touch.

Transparent Leather – in motion

Transparent Leather – White

Transparent Leather – Natural Amber

Transparent Leather – Green

Transparent Leather – Blood Red

Transparent Leather – Brown-Orange

Transparent Leather – Black

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