In the area of furniture design, there is almost no other upholstery material that surpasses the longevity, warmth and comfort of high-quality leather. It adjusts to the user’s body temperature and is also breathable and soil-resistant, making it easy to clean and maintain.

The leather for Vitra products is obtained from cowhides that are a by-product of cattle breeding for food production. The cowhides used for Vitra products are sourced from animals bred for the food industry. Tanners must comply with strict environmental regulations when manufacturing leather, leading to the development of state-of-the-art technologies to ensure safe, environmentally friendly processes.

The art of tanning essentially requires as much time and skill today as it has for centuries. Vegetable, mineral or synthetic tanning agents are combined in large vats with the selected skins to make them supple and durable. But the age-old tradition of leather tanning has been further developed in regard to sustainability. The production of leather with the additional designation ‘F’ (Free) utilises a tanning agent extracted from olive tree leaves, a waste product of the olive harvest. Throughout the entire treatment process, the use of chemicals is reduced to a minimum and restricted to non-hazardous substances. The olive leaf extract employed for tanning is a purely vegetable-based syrup, whose production helps to reduce carbon emissions, as the leaves are no longer burned after the harvest but collected and processed at the place of origin.

In addition to the eco-friendly tanning process, environmental impact is reduced to a minimum by sourcing the cowhides for Leather Premium F from regions close to Vitra’s production facilities (Switzerland, Austria, Germany). For other qualities of leather, Vitra is reducing its network of leather suppliers in 2021, and as of 2022 all leathers used by Vitra will be sourced in Europe and primarily in Switzerland and Germany.

An independent institute regularly tests whether the leather used by Vitra complies with the legally specified limits for PCB, aromatic amines derived from azo dyes, chrome VI compounds and formaldehyde.

To make optimal use of a hide, leather scraps from the production of large items will be reused to manufacture small accessories from 2022. In addition, each hide is divided into different zones, and sections with small visual blemishes are assigned to those areas of furnishings that are not visible.

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