New Mater tables by Patricia Urquiola are made from recycled coffee beans

The Alder collection of tables by Patricia Urquiola for Mater make their debut at Milan Design Week 2024, and are made of a specially-developed material made from recycled coffee beans

Mater Tables by Patricia Urquiola
(Image credit: Nicklas Hemming)

The Alder collection of tables by Patricia Urquiola for Mater makes its debut at Milan Design Week 2024, showcasing the company’s newly-developed material. Dubbed ‘Matek’, it is the result of years of research and development by the Danish company, who have been using waste from a variety of sources that include coffee bean shells or sawdust from wood production, bound with bioplastic and resulting in a composite material that can be press-moulded to make furniture.

'Mater was established in Copenhagen in 2006 by Henrik Marstrand, and the company's initial goal was to promote sustainable practices, which was not a common topic in the design world at the time,' says Mater CEO, Ketil Årdal. 'Since then, Mater has been at the forefront of sustainable furniture design and production. The company has transitioned from a sustainability-focused design brand to a green-tech company focusing on furniture design, always seeking innovative approaches.'

Alder tables by Patricia Urquiola for Mater

Mater Tables by Patricia Urquiola

'The inspiration behind the Alder collection comes directly from nature, so we selected natural colours such as sand, earth grey, clay, and light green to reflect this earthy inspiration,' says Urquiola

(Image credit: Neil Godwin at Future Studios for Wallpaper*)

For the 'Alder' collection, Urquiola created four designs featuring soft edges and a cylindrical base, including two lounge tables with oval and square tops, a side table and a stool. Each piece is available in 4 colours that include Terracotta, Light Green, Sand and Earth Grey. The quartet of tables is made by shaping Matek around a steel frame (made of 94% recycled steel).

'The Matek™ materials enable the production of furniture using recycled and environmentally responsible materials,' explains Årdal. 'This is achieved by combining waste fibres with a waste binder. Coffee bean shells, a byproduct of the coffee roasting industry, and sawdust from wood production, are used as fibre materials. The binder material is made from plastic waste or a plastic-based alternative, with a shift towards using recycled post-consumer e-waste plastic. The combination of waste fibre and binder materials results in a unique compound suitable for press moulding, allowing for more efficient recycling of waste and capturing carbon in the furniture. In addition, a biodegradable version of Matek™ has been developed, made entirely from natural materials. This version uses biodegradable plastic derived from sugarcane as the binder material, enabling the material to decompose back into nature.

Each design can be disassembled and its components upcycled through Mater’s own ‘Take back System’, Matek being unique in the fact that it can be processed multiple times.

Mater Tables by Patricia Urquiola

'Like subtle variations in colour found in natural rock formations, we have variations also in the surfaces of the collection, it is the waste like the coffee bean shells and the wood dust that dictates the colour,' explains the designer

(Image credit: Nicklas Hemming)

Mater's approach makes the company a fitting companion for Urquiola, whose ongoing interest and research towards innovation and sustainable practices in furniture design have been at the core of her studio's work for a while. 

'Collaborating with Mater was very interesting because of all the research they do on materials and production, especially with the different [types of bioplastic] and its behaviour when mixed with other materials, what happens when heated or pressed,' she explains. 'The design process was very smooth, because we shared the same values, we are informed and aware of the world we live in.'

Mater Tables by Patricia Urquiola

'With Alder, we wanted to create something mono-materic, a concept that was also a first for Mater. Considering the weight and characteristics of the material, we knew that the pieces needed to have a solid base to support them effectively,' says Urquiola.

(Image credit: Nicklas Hemming)

‘At Mater, we continually strive to push the boundaries of traditional furniture production and its more sustainable journey into the future, concludes Årdal. ‘Our planet’s resources are not infinite, and we need to rethink antiquated ways of production now.’

The Alder collection by Patricia Urquiola for Mater is on view at Milan Design Week 2024, from 15 to 19 April 2024

Via Bartolomeo Eustachi, 51

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.