Vegan Interior Design Alternatives to Real Leather
When you look at a leather couch, you may not immediately think of things like greenhouse gas emissions and the unethical treatment of animals. But as we all become more aware of the impact our actions have on the environment and its inhabitants, the more we desire sustainable, ethical options for all kinds of products — including furniture and home décor.
Although the use of leather in interior design is currently popular, major brands and manufacturers of home goods are taking note of the growing U.S. vegan population and are now offering stylish leather alternatives that don’t break the bank. According to the Top Trends in Prepared Foods 2017 report, 6 percent of U.S. consumers say they’re vegan. That’s up from just 1 percent in 2014.
We count ourselves among the country’s budding vegan movement, and we’re committed to vegan interior design principles that advocate using materials that contain no animal byproducts whenever possible.
Thanks to the internet and labeling regulations, it’s not hard to determine whether a product you’re considering contains silk, wool, leather, or any other animal byproduct. You can simply read the label or look it up online. But if you’re unsure, ask a vegan interior designer, who can order animal-free materials for custom jobs.
In the meantime, check out these leather alternatives for your next vegan interior design project. And explore some innovative vegan materials that are currently under development.
Image Courtesy of Pinterest
Embracing vegan interior design is easier than ever thanks to a plethora of economically priced faux leather fabrics available on the market. To create faux leather, manufacturers start with a fabric base and then treat it with wax, dye, or polyurethane to give it a specific color and texture. Fabrics and items with a grainy, matte texture look more like the real deal. Faux leather with a smooth, shiny surface tends to look more artificial and poorly made.
You can achieve a classic, real-leather interior design aesthetic without the animal cruelty by using lightweight pleather, made from plastic materials; durable, stain-resistant microsuede; or vinyl-coated Naugahyde. Faux leather is available in earthy neutral tones or brighter jewel tones, depending on your desired effect. You can even find faux leather fabric that resembles an animal hide. Alligator, snake skin, ostrich, and bison leather alternatives are just a few options.
Before tackling a big upholstery project, consult with an interior designer, who can assist you in finding a high-quality faux leather that will deliver the look and feel you want. An interior designer can also connect you with a reputable upholsterer, help you get the best price, and ensure you’re ordering the proper amount of faux leather to cover your furniture.
Fruits of Labor
What could be more vegan-friendly than leather made from fruit? It may sound a little wild, but some eco-conscious companies are producing leather made from nature’s candy. By using fruit harvest byproducts to reduce food waste, these burgeoning businesses are a breath of fresh air with the potential to offer a sustainable alternative to authentic leather on a global scale. Someday in the not-too-distant future, we may be buying lampshades and ottomans made from pineapples.
Currently, London-based Piñatex and Netherlands-based Fruitleather Rotterdam are pioneering fruit leather production. Piñatex creates a strong, long-lasting alternative leather from pineapple leaf fibers. Some U.S.-based retailers carry Piñatex accessories and furnishings, but the material is not yet widely available to the public.
Fruitleather Rotterdam takes bad apples (literally) and uses an “eco-friendly process that converts leftover fruits into durable, leather-like material.” Fruitleather’s founders envision their product being used in the interior design, fashion, and home furniture industries.
The Future is Fungus
Image Courtesy of MycoWorks
Soft, water-resistant, and made without any animal byproducts, mushroom leather may be the wave of the future in vegan interior design. Just think; you may find soon yourself browsing a selection of mushroom sofas.
Currently available in sample and small production amounts, Muskin is made from phellinus ellipsoideus, a species of large wild mushroom. According to the Italian company that manufacturers Muskin, it resembles suede and is produced without any chemicals.
San Francisco-based startup MycoWorks is using mycelium, the microscopic, root-like threads of a mushroom, as a key ingredient in creating a new kind of vegan leather. MycoWorks adds organic chemicals at various stages of the growing process to manipulate the look and feel of the mycelium-based leather alternative. MycoWorks is refining the manufacturing process in the hope of eventually producing millions of square feet of the material annually.
Image from our Downtown Austin Loft Project
As we wait for fruit- and mushroom-based leather alternatives to hit the market, we can always rely on textiles to meet our vegan interior design needs. Natural fabrics like linen and cotton can give a room a light, organic feel. Linen works well in upholstered formal living room furniture. It’s not a heavy-duty fabric, wrinkles easily, and requires cleaning by a professional, so keep that in mind when determining how you want to incorporate it into your design plans.
Cotton is a classic and versatile staple for furniture and accessories. Interior designers often use damask to dress up a room and give it a more formal ambience. Canvas is a more durable choice that lends a room a casual vibe.
In the synthetic category, you have a rainbow of materials to choose from. For silk without the worm sacrifice, acetate is a good option. Acrylic can be a nice alternative to wool, but make sure you choose a high-quality version that won’t pill excessively. Nylon- and polyester-blend fabrics, as well as olefin are appropriate for heavy-wear furniture and décor. High-quality rayon is a triple threat: It can resemble silk, linen, or cotton.
Whether you’re going for a polished or rustic atmosphere, don’t be afraid to mix textiles and faux leather. Integrating a variety of materials in a space adds contrast and visual interest. If the idea of mixing textures intimidates you, enlist the expertise of an interior designer.
J.Fisher Interiors’ studio is located in east Austin. To schedule your consultation appointment, please fill out the contact form or call us at 512.954.0904. We would love to hear from you!