Ventri, handbags made from leather made out of cow stomachs.
In the meat industry, animal stomachs are a waste product. There is a challenge in providing higher value through design to something that is considered waste in many countries. Beauty is hidden in unexpected places. There is a huge demand for sustainable alternatives to luxury leather goods, which do not compromise on aesthetics and quality.
A cow has four different stomachs, each with a different function and therefore different shapes and textures. Three of the four stomachs are highly suitable for tanning. The project will produce scalable prototypes of three different handbags, each made of leather from a different stomach. Through the partnership, the craftsmanship of the Spanish leather artisans is applied to Billies unique textured material to create a line of handbags.
Billie van Katwijk: “When I saw a cow stomach for the first time I didn’t know where I was looking at. I never saw a cow stomach before so that didn’t come to mind. I saw a skin-like material with different structures and textures: fur or scales-like structures, textures like honeycomb netting and thin ruffles and folds. It had aesthetics that only can be found in nature, irregular and honest, shaped to function but with a mysterious atmosphere.
It looked like the skin of a fantasy animal, a sort of reptile that I never saw before. I was seized by its mystery. It felt to me as if I discovered a new species.
In some countries parts of the cow stomach are delicatessen and are eaten. But in the Netherlands almost nobody does that. In the Dutch meat industry, cows are slaughtered for human consumption of meat. The stomachs are a waste product they are processed to dog food or biomass energy. For me, the rich, organic textures make this slaughterhouse waste a fascinating material.
I dived in ways to preserve them in order to transform them into a luxurious material and share their material qualities. Thanks to the innovative handling of undervalued organic materials, the byproduct of the meat industry gets a luxurious afterlife. The result is a unique range of leathers with their own look and feel.”
THE BIRTH OF THE PROJECT:
Sustainability is one of the most urgent themes of today. The approach is not simply reuse, but a tailor made material as a solution for the low value waste problem of the meat industry. A raw material that is considered to be insignificant is being re-appraised and contributes to a more sustainable industry.
The Ventri bag collection has the unique combination of the new sustainable Ventri material in combination with craftsmanship and contemporary design.
There is demand for sustainable alternatives to leather luxury goods, which do not compromise on aesthetics and quality. The Ventri handbags meet this demand.
We offer a new concept that refers to luxury, consciousness and quality. Ventri offers the beauty from the beast while in the meantime the product appeals to the need to address contemporary problems regarding waste in an innovative way.
A cow has four different stomachs, each with a different function and therefore different shapes and textures. Three of the four stomachs are suitable for tanning. The outcome of the Worth partnership collaboration, between Afer Leather and Studio Billie van Katwijk, is three different handbags, each made of leather from a different stomach. Every handbag is designed, inspired on the different qualities of the three different Ventri stomachs leather:
The Rumen Ventri Leather has a hairy structure and in some places it looks more like wrinkled skin. The rumen is the biggest stomach and is therefore also the largest bag.
The design is big and soft like a pillow, but also practical for everyday use and is big enough to fit a laptop.
The Reticulum Ventri Leather has a net like structure. It is much smaller than the rumen and is therefore a smaller purse. This special honeycomb leather structure is framed as an eyecatcher, yet functional. It is designed to fit the daily essentials like phone keys and wallet and can fit an A5 notebook. It can be used as a pouch or worn with an adjustable strap.
The surface of the Omasum Ventri Leather is highly structured with ruffles and folds which makes the leather lively and extravagant. This gives a lot of character and with very minimal design adjustments. The clutch is already a design object in itself.
Billie van Katwijk: “ Through the function the material gets accessible and reaches a larger audience. It evokes an experience that creates engagement. To show that slaughterhouse remnants can become luxurious designs.
Through design I want to inspire people to look for beauty in unexpected places and value the whole animal; to experience the beauty of the beast from another point of view. I want to inspire you to question what we perceive as wasteful or unevaluable.
I am convinced that with a different view we can add value to the unvalued.”
THE CREATIVE PROCESS:
The Ventri Leather has potential for a lot of applications. Inspired by the material itself the application was made. This way the leather gets a new function and can be used and touched. Together with Afer Leather, we made handbags inspired on the round shapes and different sizes of the stomachs. From each of the three tanned stomachs we made one bag.
This way we were able to test and investigate the different structures and qualities of the different types of leather. Because the three different types of leather are different and inragulair, it was a challenge to transform them into finished designs. The organic structures are one of the qualities that make the Ventri Leather an appealing material, on the other hand this was also a challenge in achieving a high quality finish to the handbags. For example the Omasum clutch has numerous leather folds that have to fit neatly in the closure.
Thanks to the craft knowledge of the After Leather team, we succeeded to create three different handbags with their own unique look and feel.
With help of the Worth project the collaboration between Afer Leather and Studio Billie van Katwijk could be realized. The project values craftsmanship while at the same time innovating the raw material. In the process knowledge was gained and shared, which will result in the first cow stomach handbag-collection ever.
Afer Leather is located in the south of Spain in Ubrique, an area that is known for its leather craft. They have the material knowledge and craftsmanship and in this collaboration they investigated the Ventri Leather. Together we innovated the cow stomach and found ways to make a high quality and unique product.
It was great seeing how different expertises can come together to make something new. The past year was a challenging time for both parties, unfortunately we haven’t been able to meet each other on location. But I am convinced this will happen in the future. Despite the limitations that we experienced the past months, we are very happy with the collaboration and the results.
This is not the end of the project, but only the beginning of our journey. With these leather samples we are able to scale the production and the bags will be available for sale.
We also have more plans for small leather goods and other exciting things. Stay tuned!
I am convinced that with a different view, together, we can add value to the unvalued.
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Designer Billie van Katwijk is inspired by cycles in nature. In these cycles, waste does not exist: a principle underlying her work. Undervalued materials are transformed into high-quality products.
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Afer Leather is based in the village of Ubrique (Spain), well known for its leather partisanship. Ana Holquin founded the company to create a link between designers from all over Europe and several small local handcraft workshops in Ubrique.
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