L.A. designer wants to shake up the leather seat business

Vicki von Holzhausen has made a name for itself selling vegan leather alternatives for women’s handbags, shoes and furniture.

Now she’s working her way into the automotive business.

Late last year, von Holzhausen (the name of its Los Angeles materials lab and design house) produced a specially-created version of the vegan seat cover for the Tesla Model S Pleid, which is on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum.

The designer is clear — she’s not a Tesla supplier. But the project helped notify automakers and Tier 1 interior suppliers that von Holzhausen was home.

“There’s definitely customer demand for this,” she said. car news.

“We are a materials innovation company,” said von Holzhausen, explaining the business he launched in 2015 in an elevator. So that people can understand how to replace these existing materials. “

Why would automakers be interested in replacing these materials?

von Holzhausen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, general motors, said a shift had begun in global automotive materials. And it just so happens that this change coincides with her own worldview.

“I’ve been vegetarian since I was 19 and vegan throughout the entire process of starting and building this business, so this has been a lifelong thing for me.” I have always been very concerned with the ethical treatment of animals, and creating new material that goes beyond that has been a personal journey.”

Increasing vegetarianism among consumers is driving this shift, with automakers issuing new mandates to their supply chains to adopt environmentally friendly, sustainable and recyclable parts and materials. increase.

“The industry wants to move away from petroleum plastics,” says von Holzhausen. “You can’t put untreated leather in the interior of your car.

In a nutshell, von Holzhausen’s innovation is a rapidly growing woody material strong enough to serve as a building material and, in some Asian cities, as multi-layer scaffolding for skyscraper work. Bamboo is a plant that grows.

Through the miracles of chemistry and materials engineering, the von Holzhausen team transforms what they call “bamboo” into flexible applications that are as soft as lambskin.

Bamboo skin is not 100 percent plant, it is 83 percent plant. Importantly for von Holzhausen, their bamboo is now suitable for automotive applications.

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