Did you get your idea for the application of the palm bi-product from the Kitul palm and the way it is used from Sri Lanka?
Actually we were not familiar with the Kitul palm tree or its use. As we said before, the plantations of the Pupunha palm tree are spreading around Brazil and once you are aware of it, it is impossible not to notice the large amounts of residues. With the development of the Pupunha plywood we were lucky to count on the previous experience of designer Claudio Ferreira.
As we develop technologies that will be transferred to small farmers, when we do reference research we try to keep it as close as possible to the reality of the farmers. It’s about getting to know some traditional processes and uses for the by-products. And then we try to improve on that and optimise it, adding some aspects of mechanical properties and aesthetics.
Where and how do you get funding for your projects?
Our company is young, we are only six years old. Since the beginning we joined together and worked from a set belief: The idea that through design it would be possible to have a positive effect on our environment. When we began as students, our energy came from our dreams, goals and inspirations. In the beginning, as young adults, we had to rely on our parents' help in supporting us to reach our utopia.
In the first three years we were incubated in the state university. This incubation helped us a lot with the daily costs (rent, energy, communication, etc), but even with this support, it is never easy to work in research and innovation.
Therefore we had to begin working with different products and services in order to get the resources to support us realising our main goals. We have managed to sell some eco business gifts, work with design and consultancy services, and organised material workshops. We see our market focussed on the materials and design consultancy service, especially in alternative materials for designers, engineers and architects. But we have other projects, like the material library that can be consulted by students and professionals as a tool for innovation companies or even installed in companies that want to have this tool as a constant inspiration area in their own space.
We also search for government funding, but this is pretty difficult to get in Brazil. A recent example of this is the public material library we are developing with the help of the city and federal government, but this project began three years ago and it is supposed to get started by the end of 2011.