Innovation: '100% Jellyfish Leather' by Yurii Kasao
Jellyfish leather? Yes, you’ve heard correctly. The Japanese designer Yurii Kasao has developed possibly the most progressive and innovative material in terms of leather alternatives: with the support of the 'SustainRCA' initiative at the London College of Art, she has developed a technique to make leather out of jellyfish. Some background: although jellyfish (a species of cnidarian) are used in Chinese and Japanese cuisine, they are becoming overly abundant, particularly in coastal waters, because of overfishing and climate change. Researchers have even developed a robot to kill jellyfish in the oceans, after which they are simply thrown away. Kasao thinks this is a waste and so she’s bringing the '100% Jellyfish Leather' material onto the market. She sources the jellyfish from fishermen and the coastal zone management. The gelatinous organism is treated with salt, dried, and cured with a vinegar solution, before it is dried again and pressed to make leather. Chemical additives are not needed for this. Another advantage: the material is completely biodegradable.
Whilst, of course, the visual look of the jellyfish leather cannot be compared with traditional cowhide, the material has qualities that are just as good as those of conventional animal hides: it can be cut to size, sown together and made into goods, thus making it very suitable for accessories and small leather items. This means that '100% Jellyfish Leather' could become a serious alternative to traditional leather.