Colab is the UAE’s first purpose-built digital materials database for interior, architecture and other design projects. While it features both commercially available and nascent products from global brands, its Europe-touring Rethink pop-ups highlight emerging sustainable materials from the UAE and the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
“When people think of sustainability, the UAE may not be a place that comes to mind. But over the past five years, the country has made significant efforts to combat environmental issues,” says Richard Wilson, creative director and founder of Colab. “This year is the UAE’s Year of Sustainability 2023, so a perfect opportunity for us to present the country on an international stage.”
This focused portfolio of products includes alternative solutions to the likes of single-use plastic, cement and exotic leather, most of which are regionally sensitive, derived from local regenerative resources and repurposed waste streams.
For example, Palmade is a biodegradable bioplastic made from palm-tree waste, while Ramel is a desert-sand-based concrete alternative. Leukeather is a natural textile made from discarded plant pods, and date seeds are transformed into both Dateform – a solid surface material – and cement substitute Datecrete.
Materials that respond to regional geographies and abundant/underused resources are becoming increasingly relevant – not only from a sustainability standpoint, but from a cultural heritage point of view, bringing with them meaning and belonging, and a narrative that resonates with consumers on an emotional level.