Curiosity is a fantastic quality. It can transform things of little value into something precious. When Hao Nguyen Van, one of our engineers, searched for new ways to use materials he came to think about the nipa palm. It’s a plant with soft fibers that are perfect for hand-woven products like the LUSTIGKURRE collection.
IKEA has a long tradition of using natural plant fibers. Nipa palm is one of the latest additions. “It’s one of the most sustainable materials there is. Since it’s a living material it results in unique products – which is another plus,” says Hao.
“Nipa palm takes up large areas in Southeast Asia, and I’ve been thinking about ways to use it in our production for quite some time,” he says. It was when IKEA started working with a supplier in the south of Vietnam that Hao finally had a breakthrough. “I asked if they had ideas of how to utilize the nipa palm, which to me seemed like an unutilized resource. The supplier contacted a local university that suggested that we try using the lower part of the stalks which is what’s left after the leaves are harvested.”
Today the locals use the palm leaves for making roofs, but the stalks have no commercial value. They’re left to decay, unless they’re removed to make space for new leaves. By utilizing the stalks, the farmers get an additional income and an incentive to plant even more of the fast-growing palms. Something that also protects the soil from saltwater intrusion. “It’s a win-win. We can offer handmade, unique products made of a sustainable material. And at the same time be sure that the production also benefits the communities where the material is sourced,” concludes Hao.