Malai – (noun) a newly developed material made from entirely organic and sustainable bacterial cellulose, grown on agricultural waste sourced from the coconut industry in Southern India.
We work with the local farmers and processing units, collecting their waste coconut water (which would otherwise be dumped, causing damage to the soil) and re-purposing it to feed the bacteria’s cellulose production. One small coconut-processing unit can collect 4000 litres of water per day, which we can use to grow 25kg of cellulose.
Malai is a flexible, durable material comparable to leather or paper. It is water resistant and because it contains absolutely no artificial ‘nasties’ it will not cause any allergies, intolerances or illness. It is a completely vegan product and as such you could even eat it!*
*but it’s way too pretty for that...
The world ‘Malai’ refers directly to the creamy flesh of the coconut and it is the coconut water (a by-product from the harvesting of this flesh) that sustains the bacteria whilst they are producing the cellulose, which is then in turn collected and refined until it becomes the finished material: Malai.
We can produce it in sheets (with a range of thicknesses) and we have also developed a process whereby we can create seamless three-dimensional vessels or objects using a moulding technique (technology under development).
Malai is available in a range of colours achieved through the use of mordant-free natural dyes, and it can develop a soft sheen or patina over time.
A product made from
Malai will last many years if properly cared for, however should you wish to have a clear-out, it can simply be placed in with your compostable rubbish and it will naturally break down.
Malai is a very user-friendly material. Because of its entirely natural composition it is sensitive to humidity, much like paper or leather. To ensure it remains at its best we suggest applying a thin layer of beeswax (either a clear shoe polish or a furniture grade beeswax) or coconut oil (to continue Malai’s completely vegan credentials) to the surface to ensure it remains moisturised. This is especially advisable during hot, dry weather or after cleaning.
Yup, don’t panic if you spill something on your Malai or if it becomes dirty because it can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and then left to air-dry (although it won’t survive a trip through the washing machine). We advise against drying with intense heat or ironing it as this may cause damage. When it has dried, applying beeswax (see above) will help restore it to its original condition.
Although tough by nature and designed to remain in good condition for many years, Malai will eventually start to break down. We cannot predict the exact rate at which this will happen because it is very specific to its treatment and the environment but if properly cared for a product from Malai shall last anything from 4-8 years.
Although we do not operate a repair service, should damage occur please contact us and we will endeavour to suggest how it could be fixed.