We design, grow, and assemble collagenOur Materials
Welcome to the biofabrication age.
Growing biofabricated materials without an animal might seem futuristic but at Modern Meadow we’re making it reality. Biofabrication enables us to grow nature’s materials using living cells instead of animals. We grow collagen, a protein you find in animal skin, from which we create a bioleather material called ZoaTM.
Depending on the desired features, we design and engineer the material to deliver the right structural and aesthetic properties. We then tan and finish it through an efficient, ecologically mindful process to give the material its final character.
How we do it
DNA is the molecule that carries instructions on how an organism functions. Think of it as software code.
The sequence of bases determines the information available for building an organism, similar to the way in which letters of the alphabet appear in a certain order to form words and sentences. We edit DNA to instruct our cells to manufacture the type and quantity of collagen we need.
Cells are the basic building blocks of all living things. They feed on the nutrients supplied and convert those nutrients into energy, making copies of themselves and rapidly multiplying tens of cells into billions of cells.
These cells produce collagen and other proteins that are the building blocks of our materials. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the animal kingdom.
The triple helix structure of collagen then forms into fibrils.
These fibrils are nanofibers which join to form bundles called fibers.
Using some secret sauce, we further process these protein structures to create our unique ZoaTM materials.
Our materials are finished in an environmentally responsible, reduced tanning process.
Our biofabrication platform offers us amazing headroom for innovation. Best of all, it’s eminently scaleable.Dave Williamson, CTO
What is leather?
Leather is the tanned skin of an animal. Cow, pig, sheep, alligator and more. Regardless of animal type, the main component of skin is collagen. The resulting hide is constrained by the size and shape of the animal while its quality is dictated by how the animal is raised.
Leather has traditionally been used in shoes, in accessories, in furniture, and in transportation: from luxury car interiors to commercial airliners. Our animal-friendly, bioleather materials can be produced to the size, shape, and design specification required. They have none of the defects found in traditional hides resulting in significantly reduced waste. We begin where traditional leather ends.
What is tanning?
Tanning is a chemical process that preserves the skin against decay, makes it supple when dry, and creates the finished aesthetic. The tanning process starts with the beamhouse operations. This is where the animal skin is stripped of its hair, flesh, and fat. It’s the most chemically intensive part of the process.
At Modern Meadow we only practice the final stages of tanning. We preserve the material and then treat it to achieve the required suppleness and finish. Less water, less energy, less chemicals.
A future leather atelier…
Picture the strength of kangaroo leather but with the delicacy of snake…or the aesthetic of crocodile but the suppleness of lamb. Imagine if we could select the animal DNA of your choosing. Woolly mammoth? Not impossible.