Leather fibers branch naturally like leaf veins.
Growing up in Taiwan, a place that is blessed with tremendous biodiversity and home to over four thousands species of wild plants, designers Hank and Maxwell have been inspired to bring this incredible energy of green nature to every household. The ever-changing scenery of forests and woods being their inspiration, they created “leather plants” — leather products shaped like leaves.
“Leather molding has a very long history. In ancient times, the craftsmen used this technique to make armor as the leather would stiffen during the molding process. The hardened leather not only provided a certain degree of protection when used as armor, it also allowed artists to both carve on and sculpt with it.” After numerous experiments and refinements, the designer duo eventually came up with the best technique to preserve the toughness in leather, while at the same time retain some of the softness that makes the leather products look more like real plants.
One can easily see the sophistication in craftsmanship in the leather plants as they are the perfect replicas of some of the most commonly seen plant species in Taiwan. This includes the Roundleaf Fan Palm that is shaped like a fan, the Nest Fern that can be seen at low and medium altitudes, and the eucalyptus imported from Australia which can now be easily found at medium altitude.
To preserve the natural appearance of the vegetable-tanned leather, aniline dye is used to color the leather plants. During the dyeing process, the dye penetrates into the leather without covering the natural grain on the surface (while in contrast pigmented leather has a topcoat paint that makes the grain pattern hardly visible). Similar to human skin, there are different kinds of wrinkles and scars on leather, and the leather grain is just like skin pores. It is the unique qualities in leather that inspired the creation of leather plants, and to pair with this exceptional creation, a special kind of essential oil was crafted. Working on the principle of capillary action, the essential oil goes into the leather plant via its grainy surface and the beautiful fragrance of the oil is eventually diffused. The leather plant is an everlasting green that tells the passing of time yet never ages.