Natural Modification

With this Reality Tank project, traditional leather tanning has been approached in a new, innovative and unconventional way. Through the intuitive approach of Anne Vaandrager in combination with ECCO Leather’s expertise, it has been proved that traditional materials can be transformed in a new and experimental context.

“How malleable can animal hide become?” was the question, which Anne Vaandrager asked herself when she began to work with Reality Tank in 2014.

The tanning of animal skins for their use as leather, is a process which has been known since the Stone Age. Besides the technology and machines, this basic concept of leather tanning has never changed. Reality Tank gave Anne Vaandrager the chance to cross boundaries and to go beyond the tradition, which continues to be prolonged by today’s industries.

Historically, leather tanneries have used different kinds of substances that influenced the tanning process. Using her kitchen to pursue her research intuitively, Anne Vaandrager manipulated this traditional process using an experimental approach. Partner ECCO Leather provided Vaandrager the knowledge and expertise needed to transform her experiments with materials into concrete recipes. It resulted in a variety of outcomes and, eventually, in the first stage of Malleable Skin.

The project was further developed and different formulae were created by using raw hide as a base, Malleable Skin took on its ultimate material properties and appearances by mixing different substances, coloured pigments and liquids, and through heating, casting and moulding.

Three new materials were created, each with its own characteristics. Clay Skin is a dark coloured casting material – it is malleable and can be cast in a three dimensional form, offering new possibilities in techniques and approaches to products. Marmalade Skin is a material with different shades of colour, which can be cast in three-dimensional moulds but can also be used in sheet form as a material for laser cutting or punching. Translucid Skin is a semi-transparent material which cannot be cast but is particularly suitable for creating sheet material for laser cutting and punching.