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building blocks


material origin

Sheet, Non-woven


9 – actual system proven in operational environment


The word ‘Malai’ refers directly to the creamy flesh of the coconut.

It is made from entirely organic and sustainable bacterial cellulose, grown on agricultural waste sourced from the coconut industry in Southern India. The Malai sheets are flexible and durable, they show it best on their youtube channel.

Malai will last many years –at least 4 to 8 years– if properly cared for, however should you wish to have a clear-out, it can simply be placed in with your compostable rubbish and it will naturally break down.

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Flexible & durable comparable to leather.

It is water resistant

It contains absolutely no artificial ‘nasties’, it will not cause any allergies, intolerances or illness.

No textile backing is used on our sheets. The material has no front and reverse side - both sides have the same appearance.

Malai is offering sheets in 3 weights : 500 gsm, 650 gsm and 800 gsm. The higher the gsm the stronger and thicker the material is.

Malai is like wood, it can develop a soft sheen or patina over time.

Home compostable between 90 and 120 days, depending specific to the environment.

There can be a variation in final shade of the sheet, a difference of up to 10% is not uncommon.

It won’t survive a trip through the washing machine.


Although tough by nature and designed to remain in good condition for many years, Malai will eventually start to break down. We cannot predict the exact rate at which this will happen because it is very specific to its treatment and the environment but if properly cared for a product from Malai shall last anything from 4-8 years. Malai can last for years but at the same time when Malai ends in a compost pile it will break down within 90 days.

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Footwear, although in comparison with conventional hydes Malai has lower tensile strength therefore it is not suitable for all kinds of footwear types yet. So far it is successfull for light footwear like sandals and slippers.

Accessories, Malai performs quite well when applied on products like bags, wallets, pouches, etc. Here design is the decisive factor. Due to its semi-stiff temper it is suitable especially for structural products that require holding shape.

Interior objects, a wide array of products for interior use can be made using Malai ranging from furniture, cushions, stationary, storage boxes or surface panels.

Yup, don’t panic if you spill something on your Malai or if it becomes dirty because it can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and then left to air-dry. We advise against drying with intense heat or ironing it as this may cause damage.

Apply beeswax or coconut oil –to continue Malai’s completely vegan credentials– will help it remain moisturised and restore it to its original condition. This is especially advisable during hot, dry weather or after cleaning.



Production process

Everything starts with coconuts.

We work alongside Southern India’s coconut farmers and processing units who find themselves with much ‘waste’ coconut water after they’ve removed the harvest of white flesh from inside the mature coconuts. Normally this waste water would be released into the drainage system, but this in itself causes pollution of water and the soil to become acidified. Every day a small coconut processing unit disposes of up to 4000 litres of this water per day.

We rescue this coconut water, place it into vats and sterilise it, resulting in an energy-rich, entirely natural nutrient upon which our bacterial culture can feed. We combine the nutrient and the culture and then just let the bacteria do its thing. The fermentation period takes between twelve to fourteen days.

The sheet then undergoes a process of refinement.  It is enriched with natural fibres, gums and resins to create a more durable and flexible material which may then be formed into flat sheets in a range of thicknesses and textures, or moulded seamlessly into 3D structures. A range colours can be achieved through the addition of natural dyes, if so desired. We use exclusively plant based dyes sourced from India. A patented cold batch dyeing method –with mordant-free natural dyes– is used for this process.

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Manufacturing facts

Currently Malai runs a small pilot manufacturing unit with a capacity of producing ca. 200 square meters per month. Malai is working on upscaling the production in the most sustainable way collecting and validating the data from each step of the production.

production time

Malai has its own production facilities in South India.

the factory

Behind the screen



Susmith & Zuzana


Kerala "land of the coconuts" India & Slowakia

time & place