Lingrove makes wood without trees and that’s a very good thing because 87% of trees are gone forever due to our insatiable appetite for wood and making things like furniture, boats and houses out of old growth wood which is one of the strongest natural materials in market today. Due to that, the black market for illegally poached wood is around $50 billion dollars and deforestation is one of the biggest contributors (20%) to CO2 emissions contributing to climate change. Lingrove wants to change that by making a composite material that acts and looks like wood, only better.
Enter Joe Luttwak, founder of Lingrove as well as Blackbird Guitars. He’s a self proclaimed “composites nerd” that got his start working at Ferrari in the F1 department, where he was exposed not only to amazing corporate lunches (and vino), but also to the best materials, molding and high performance parts in the world. From Ferrari, Joe went into design and eventually took his experience and product design knowledge to become a composites manufacturer and guitar maker, founding Blackbird guitar company. Apparently the thing about guitars is the older they are, the better... and that’s because of the beautiful old growth wood so many are made of. Only problem for a tree-hugger like Joe is that continuing to make beautiful guitars out of wood is not sustainable and contributes to the multitude of problems we find ourselves in due to global warming and because of excess CO2 in the atmosphere. It is because of his love for the environment, that Joe has been on a continuous search to find the perfect material to replace standard carbon fiber made from petroleum sources.
Joe wondered if he could create a material that was just as strong, beautiful and with great performance but made with sustainable materials, thus embarking upon a 5 year journey to find the perfect wood and carbon replacement, but one that was better than wood and more sustainable than carbon composite made from petroleum.
The key to strength and durability in products lies in the stiffness to weight ratio, Joe was confident the answer to finding a better “old growth wood” was in biology. His background in design led him to believe that if he created something beautiful enough to instill desire, the market and consumers would demand the product.
Ekoa was born out of this 5 year journey, it is the composite material that is beautiful, sustainable and abundant. After experimenting with many plants, Joe and the Lingrove team settled on flax, the oldest plant fiber used for textiles by humans and the fiber also known as linen. The name Ekoa takes its inspiration from the endangered and endemic Hawaiian wood Koa combined with the E for ecological, we think it has a nice ring to it!
Flax is a wonderful plant because it only takes 100 days to grow (vs 300 years of old growth wood), is super efficient in water usage (vs cotton which uses a lot of water in its production), and it grows as a long continuous fiber, which is also happens to be the stiffest in nature. It is better than wood fiber and when combined with the proprietary resin developed by Lingrove, it is lighter, stronger, faster growing and better for the environment - in fact it is CO2 negative!
Lingrove is starting production in several markets such as furniture, sports equipment, music and automotive with beautifully designed pieces such as a chair, guitars, surf boards, paddles and more but Joe envisions (and so do we) a world covered in Ekoa since it can be a replacement for not only wood, but metals and aluminum!
We loved this conversation with Joe Luttwak, as evidenced by the tons of laughter you’ll hear from us. Joe is a great guy though and we are thoroughly behind his company’s mission to develop beautiful products that are good for the environment.
Have a listen, you'll enjoy this conversation if you are interested in innovation, design, eco-friendly products and more!
Another great Bubbl Popped by Pete A Turner and Sandra Ponce De Leon #ekoaeverywhere