Due to livestock farming and industrial slaughter methods, the prices of animal products have decreased enormously compared to the recent past. While just some decades ago farm animals were highly valued and mostly all of their resources were further processed, in present times only the tastiest and easiest to prepare parts of an animal are used. Today less than half of an animal is really further processed in Germany. All the rest goes to animal rendering industrial plants and more directly to landfill.
In addition, since consumers are rarely in contact with the raising and slaughtering process of animals, they started to be disgusted by the so-called 'by-products' of animals. But are slaughter 'by-products' really nothing more than waste? Is our rejective attitude towards these materials justified and legitimate? Or shouldn’t we – if we really need to kill an animal – at least appreciate all of its resources instead?
Based on these questions Tobias Trübenbacher initiated his 'Inner Values' project: two seating pieces of furniture out of tanned and further processed cattle intestines and pigs’ bladders, transformed them into soft leather. Thereby, the former poor reputation of the supposed 'waste products' is being replaced and infused with opposite values. It is the advance of the material to become something soft, inviting and curiously aesthetic, the chairs uncover a new value and unique beauty of these inner skins.
Inner Values reveals that these skins can have equal qualities as conventional leather after they were cleaned, pickled, greased and tanned for several weeks. The outcomes demonstrate that these materials can have equal qualities as conventional leather. In addition, the pieces of furniture also stimulate us to rethink the handling of animal resources in our society and to question our unreflected waste culture.
Tobias Trübenbacher started the Inner Values project with various material studies in order to explore animal skins, to understand their characteristics and qualities and to try out different possibilities to conserve them. The materials were experiemented with processes such as drying, stretching, weaving, prepared with glue and resin or blown up. The designer also experimented with both traditional and new tanning processes.
Based on the findings of these first trials, the designer decided to focus on pigs’ bladders and cattle intestines, which are both waste materials, usually thrown away after slaughter.
Firstly, the innards are cleaned with a vinegar solution and freed of fat or meat remnants. After washing the purified materials in water they are tanned for several weeks with natural tannins. During this process, the skins, which mainly consist of proteins, these proteins contract and the fibres solidify and merge together. Next, the designer regressed the bladders and intestines by repeatedly massaging a mixture of train oil, Vaseline, curd soap and tallow in the material. Afterwards, the materials were kneaded, stretched and tumbled in order to transform the stiff, brittle and wrinkled skins into light, soft leather, which was then stuffed with recycled cotton wool, sewn shut and attached to a seat frame.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Pig bladder, cattle intestine, steel frame, rope, recycled cotton, tannin