Finalist 2022

Kossalii

Kossalii

Kossalii connects art, craft and innovative materials in their pursuit of sustainability and originality.

Embedded in the slow fashion movement, Kossalii’s work consists of handcrafting bags and accessories from scratch using eco-friendly materials. Working with recycled leather, an alternative to traditional leather, this innovative material consists of shredded chemical free leather remnants bonded with natural and sustainable rubber. Another specificity of our work is the use of the block printing technique on our leather, giving it a unique and and original look. We design the patterns and hand carve them on 100% biodegradable blocks. Then all the recycled leather pieces are printed individually before being carefully assembled in our workshop.

Design Brief:

One of our biggest challenges for this collection was to find adequate water based and toxic free ink so that we could print each accessory according to our ethos. Once we found our choice of ink, we then had to find a way to make it permanent, waterproof and resistant for a daily use. Our bags and key holders are everyday accessories. We create our designs to be unique yet practical and, more than anything, long lasting in every aspect. We spent a significant amount of time creating our own conditioner which would protect both prints and recycled leather.

Following our principles of sustainability, we developed this conditioner using exclusively natural and organic ingredients which proved to be good for the leather and safe for us to use in our workshop on an everyday basis.


This project was developed by:

Design Process

Kossalii’s hand printed recycled leather items are in the hands of two designers: a print maker and a leather artisan. After few years experimenting various sustainable materials to print on (linen, vegetable tanned leather) we discovered recycled leather through a German company who produces a high quality material with sustainability and transparency in their practices. This material opened new perspectives with endless possibilities, from the general aspect of the product to the details of the prints.

One crucial challenge was the creation of a natural conditioner that we could apply to set the ink, acting as a protective layer to the leather and applied design. Once all these new components were in hand then began the real work of creation: the conception of the pattern to be printed on each piece of recycled leather conjointly with the designing of the accessories.

After the pattern is complete we hand carve it on linoleum blocks, a natural and biodegradable material. When the carving is over, there is always a long phase of tests to make sure the pattern is neat and elegant once printed on the recycled leather. Meanwhile sketching out ideas, we compose the collection of accessories. We work on prototypes for each design, re-think every detail, proof each creation before reaching the definitive product we will adopt for its practicality and aesthetic.

Once every piece of recycled leather is carefully hand printed and allowed to dry, the conditioner is applied. Each part of the bag or accessory is then waxed and polished by hand before being meticulously assembled manually. All these processes are the guarantee of great attention to detail in order to present refined and unique creations.

Design Excellence

Our activity consists in a succession of processes we value for their diversity and versatility, minimising any feeling of monotony and allowing us to apprehend each day with enthusiasm in the many tasks it brings, as well as its challenges. Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement that flourished in the second half of the 19th century in Europe, we value innovative materials that are align with the questions of our epoch and take pleasure in combining them with traditional craftsmanship. This bridge between modern practices alongside old craft techniques is essential for us, we believe that taking time to create special items develop a sense of responsibility in the way we consume.

As fervent believers in the slow fashion and zero waste movements, we define our work not as backward-looking but as a stimulating evolution of what we want to see in the future of our planet: tradition and innovation interconnected, moving in the same direction for quality and timeless products. Our accessories are designed to be practical, charming, unique and of great durability. We think of them as companions of lasting style that the purchaser would enjoy caring for.

Design Innovation

Besides the use of a new material like recycled leather and the rather unusual use of block printing technique (unlike the more common screen printing technique) in the fashion industry, and even more in the conception of leather accessories, our most innovative item is our key holder. We have designed and built it to be attractive in its overall look and also innovative in its engineering.

The key Holder has gone through a lot of reflections and prototypes in order to create an object that wouldn’t add much weight to the set of keys to be carried around. It is an elegant and practical product that is easily reachable in the bag because of its singular box shape.

Design Impact

Environmental impact: We decided to develop Kossalii as a 100% plastic free brand offering fully biodegradable products and the use of sustainable, natural and toxic free raw materials. Due to the slow nature of our activity, we can only produce little batches at a time, preventing any unwanted stock that could potentially end its life in landfills as witnessed with fast fashion.

Human Impact: As mentioned previously, we value time in the way we produce each item. For so long we have endured the idea that slow fabrication is unproductive and uncompetitive. We believe otherwise; we believe that creating objects with care and passion, reflects on the person who uses it. As makers taking time to handcraft a bag (or anything) from scratch is a way to go against the fast fashion industry but also a way to introduce customers to innovative and sustainable materials combined with the beauty of traditional artisan practices.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

As an extension of our personal life style, we had to create our brand accordingly to our ethic and decided to propose fully biodegradable products which would be both durable and appealing. Our choice to produce 100% plastic free items is a great challenge. It requires an immense amount of time to find our raw materials, making sure they don’t contain any plastic and are coming from manufacturers with transparency on their practices along with respect for the environment as well as human rights.

The tanneries we work with not only have a good reputation in the quality material they provide, they also are involved in spreading excellence in their respect for the environment. Our recycled leather is made of chemical free leather remnants that are collected from tanneries and other manufacturers and are then recycled to create a new material preventing unwanted and excessive wastes in landfills.

Besides the eco friendly and sustainable aspect of our craft company, we think of it as an evolving structure and hope to be able to add a social direction to it and form people, future or potential employees as a rehabilitation or inclusion program.

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