The Biodegradable Alder Collection Is Absorbed Back by Earth

Milan Design Week 2024 has been generous with its gifts, including the debut of the Alder collection, a collaboration between Danish green-tech design brand Mater and renowned Spanish architect and designer Patricia Urquiola. What makes Alder so unique? It’s completely biodegradable through the use of Matek®, a patented material technology created by Mater to produce a proprietary resource all their own. Post-consumer or -industrial material is blended into a moldable raw substance by combining fibers, like those extracted from coffee bean shells or sawdust, with a binder, often made from plastic waste or a comparable alternative. A new product is then formed through press molding technology to create each furnishing. In essence, Mater helps process myriad waste streams to manufacture beautiful furniture.

An installation featuring stools emerging from piles of variously textured materials that resemble natural elements.

Urquiola shares: “In collaboration with Mater, the development of the Alder collection has been an enriching journey, marked by the shared exchange of experience and a collective commitment to sustainable design.”

A stool on a green patch of foliage and colorful plants.

Beige \\\ Photo: Nicklas Hemming

The foundational structure of each indoor/outdoor lounge table, side table, and stool, of which there are four sizes, comprising the collection is a frame made from 94% recycled steel for extra strength and durability. Each base features two elements shaped through press molding that ultimately create Alder’s curvilinear, nature-inspired form before being topped with its horizontal cap-like surface.

A stool on a green patch of foliage and colorful plants.

Beige \\\ Photo: Nicklas Hemming

Two versions of Alder have been created based on the waste stream available for sourcing, including Terracotta, Light Green, Sand, and Earth Grey colorways. Noteworthy still, the collection is designed for complete disassembly. When its life ends, each component can be upcycled into new products through Mater’s Take-Back System.

A stool on a green patch of foliage.

Light Green \\\ Photo: Nicklas Hemming

“Patricia Urquiola’s incredible design is the perfect example of the furniture of the future,” shares Ketil Årdal, CEO of Mater. “Our planet’s resources are not infinite, and we need to rethink antiquated ways of production now. Biodegradable plastic is a rapidly renewable source that can be harvested 1-2 times a year. It naturally absorbs carbon dioxide while growing and can be decomposed by living organisms in the same way as wood or any other natural material.”

A stool on a green patch of white plants.

Terracotta \\\ Photo: Nicklas Hemming

For their Milan Design Week installation, Mater and Urquiola worked with Tableau to continue their celebration of natural materials. A deconstructed floral backdrop can be seen while the Adler collection is on display at Via Bartolomeo Eustachi, 51, 20129 Milano, Italy, from April 15-19 of this year.

A stool on a green patch of white plants.

Terracotta \\\ Photo: Nicklas Hemming

Detail of beige stool.


Detail of light green stool.

Light Green

Detail of brown stool.


A woman holding a piece of press-molded furniture over a studio table with other materials.

Patricia Urquiola \\\ Photo: Nicklas Hemming

Two white men in casual business attire sitting in front of a leafy green backdrop.

Ketil Årdal, CEO + Henrik Marstrand, Founder, Mater

The Alder collection will be available later this month. To learn more, visit

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