Material Lab exhibition at OutDoor by ISPO in Munich 2024

After the great success of the first edition of the Material Lab at ISPO Munich 2023, innovative circular materials were again put into the spotlight at OutDoor by ISPO from June 3-5, 2024. OutDoor by ISPO brought together brands, retailers, key opinion leaders, decision makers, buyers, creatives, and press to provide an international platform for a new outdoor movement. 

From ground-breaking material solutions to circular economy practices, the Sustainability Hub is a catalyst for positive change. The Material Lab, as part of the Sustainability Hub showcased innovative circular materials in a very tangible and inspirational way, exhibiting the complete life cycle and development journey of the materials, highlighting the progression from raw components through intermediary stages to the final refined material.

Curated once again by Studio Nima, the Material Lab featured a diverse range of exhibits, including bio-based yarns, plant-derived pigments, and alternatives to leather and rubber. 

Malai Eco from India showcased their bacterial cellulose fermentation process; they use coconut water – a waste material in coconut production – to feed bacteria and mix the resulting “jelly” with fibers from banana leaves, sisal and hemp to create a material similar to leather. A mycelium application was presented by Fraxinea who created a foam material suitable for use as a yoga mat called SymbioMat. Spinnova’s groundbreaking technology enables the production of yarn from wood pulp from eucalyptus trees through a mostly mechanical process, eliminating harmful chemicals, pollution and waste.

Kuori exhibited their bio-based, biodegradable, and elastic materials designed to replace traditional rubber. They leverage food byproducts, such as olive pits and walnut shells, to produce materials that are especially suitable for the outdoor industry since they emit only biodegradable microplastics, which degrade in nature and are not harmful to the environment or human health. OurCarbon, a carbon-negative material innovation derived from sewage sludge, uses an energy-neutral pyrolysis process to convert organic wastes into a material additive and black pigment for textiles and bioplastics.

Revoltech showcased their hemp-based leather alternative, which is residue-based, recyclable, and compostable, completely degrading within 90 days in home composting trials. Ponda exhibited their naturally water-repellent and lightweight goose down alternative, made from typha fibers. They collaborate with farmers and conservation groups to regenerate carbon-emitting wetlands by cultivating typha latifolia, which helps rebuild damaged wetland environments.

The Material Lab also featured student projects from the MA programme Material Futures at Central Saint Martins. Ilaria Quinte’s project, Beyond Flares, harnesses antioxidant-rich pigments from microalgae and synthesized bacterial extracts to dye fabrics that interact with the skin, alleviating inflammatory symptoms like pruritus and shielding against external bacteria. Another project, Cuemai by Alonso Hernandez, utilizes waste from tequila production to create agave-based fibers and textiles.

Ohoskin, an Italian start-up based in Sicily, developed a coated textile fabric from oranges and cacti, byproducts of the food and cosmetic industry.  Re-root-tex’s high-performance pineapple leaf yarn is produced in Bangladesh, enabling farmers to utilize wastage pineapple leaves, making extra profit for farmers. Climafibre exhibited their fibers, dyes and a hydropic coating made of sunflowers, a crop that can support regenerative food systems, protect biodiversity and aid climate mitigation.

Besides showcasing a wide range of materials and processes, the Material Lab raised discussion about relevant topics regarding biomaterials: What are the expectations towards biomaterials? Do we need fully identical alternatives to currently used materials with the same properties? What sustainability factors are the most important when it comes to biomaterials? How can we speed up their industrialization and realization?

The Material Lab at OutDoor by ISPO 2024 has once again proven to be an inspiring and influential platform, fostering dialogue and innovation in the realm of sustainable materials. As the outdoor industry continues to evolve, this exhibition highlights the critical role of biomaterial advancements in shaping a more sustainable future.