Under the umbrella of ‘synthetic leather’, materials like PVC/vinyl and PU have long attracted the scorn of interior designers as plasticky, environmentally damaging and just plain ugly. Our roving reporter, Matt Eyes, was recently in the States and noticed a definite shift in attitude towards these much-maligned materials.

While in the USA recently, I visited the plants and mills of some of the most influential players in the performance textile industry, and noted a positive change in attitude towards synthetic leather.

Back in the 60s the world scorned PVC and PU, especially in the USA, where manufacturing practices left a lot to be desired from an environmental perspective.

A lot has changed in the manufacturing process over the past 50-odd years and synthetic leather production is now a very clean process.

World leaders like American designer Patty Madden have pioneered engraving and production methods to achieve balance between aesthetic, technical and environmental concerns.

Still some remain attached to the look and feel of woven textiles, however, a recent New York Times report on typical levels of bacteria found in fabric seating, especially in high use areas, is enough to put off the most committed devotees.

The research focused on Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains in San Francisco’s Bay area, and found “high concentrations of at least nine bacteria strains and several types of mould…growing in the fabric.”

Dr John Swartzberg, a clinical professor at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkley said fabric seats are more likely to allow bacteria to flourish because they are difficult to clean and disinfect.

Synthetic leather, on the other hand, is easy to clean and widely recognised as a viable, efficient and healthier alternative to fabric, especially in high use areas where durability is key.

Even concerns about the “plasticky” look of synthetic leather are becoming a thing of the past. Patterned, printed, textured and metallic synthetics are now coming onto the market, creating countless options limited only by your imagination.

This new trend is perfectly evidenced by Patty Madden’s collection. A combination of impressive technical specifications and Madden’s signature use of texture, light and colour creates a product capable of fulfilling the toughest performance requirements while also being uniquely crafted and beautiful.

Three exclusive collections – Bari, Martini and Juxy – are available now!

Contact us for a sample.

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