Dezeen Magazine

Mater ethical homeware brand

Mater is a new homewares brand with a commitment to sourcing products that are socially and environmentally sustainable.


The Danish brand, which launched at the Maison et Object show in Paris over the weekend, promises to pursue an ethical business strategy which involves auditing its suppliers' factories to ensure they treat their workers fairly and minimise pollution.


Mater has published a "Zero Tolerance Policy" (see below) regarding workers' human rights and promises to immediately terminate contracts with suppliers found to breach its terms.


Products include lighting, furniture and tableware plus a collection of objects made of marble and wood.


Below is the press release about Mater's launch followed by its Zero Tolerance Policy:


Press release September 2007

Mater, new ethical home accessories brand, world premier:
Maison et objet, paris
7 – 11 september 2007
Hall 5 (now) stand w20
Press launch 7 september 9:30am


Ambitious Scandinavian new brand combines exclusive home accessories and corporate social responsibility Henrik Marstrand, mater founder and CEO says: “For every one of the millions of products we use to improve the quality of our lives, there are associated environmental, ethical and social consequences. While some products have a small environmental bearing, others consume finite resources in vast quantities and are produced under abusive labour conditions and cause environmental damage."


Founded in 2006, mater (Latin for mother) is a Copenhagen-based company with a strong vision to create top quality, timeless, beautiful home accessories based on an ethical business strategy and work methods that support people, local craft traditions and the environment.


Timeless & sustainable design

“We want to be the home accessories brand that makes corporate social responsibility timeless and alluring to consumers all over the world. Like any other new brand striving for international success you have to differentiate yourself from the rest. We feel our unique combination of working with well-known designers, understanding and celebrating local traditional crafts and putting it into a sustainable production method, is something that no-one has yet done full scale within our sector," says Marstrand, who held key sales and marketing positions within the fast moving consumer goods industry before setting up mater in the spring of 2006.


Under creative direction from Thomas Lykke from OeO, Danish and international designers contributing to the mater launch collection include Todd Bracher (US), Aurélien Barbry (FR), Jakob Wagner (DK), Jens Martin Skibsted (DK), Space by Signe Bindslev Henriksen & Peter Bundgaard Rützou (DK), Jesper K. Thomsen (DK) and René & Sách (DK).


Transparency & accountability

Mater's commitment to ethical, sustainable and socially responsible production is in accordance with the principles of the UN voluntary corporate responsibility initiative – the United Nations' Global Compact. Currently producing in China, Vietnam and India all factories and workshops will be audited by a third party Danish team that has been specially trained.


In July, the first factory audit by took place in the Guangdong province, southern China, which produces some of the company's ceramic products, as carried out by the Danish Technological Institute, Department for Human Resources Development. The outcome and corresponding actions will be available on mater's website from September 2007:


“Our core values for mater are transparency and accountability, which is why we are so open about everything we do; we want to be held accountable and show our progress to everybody," says Marstrand.


One example of mater's working method is the creation of the Marble/Wood Collection of Candelabras and Bowls by American designer Todd Bracher. The entire collection, consisting of marble stone and wood, was developed on site in Jaipur province, India, in close collaboration with a local partner AKFD Studio and local craftsmen. The chosen marble and wood are unique to the region and present the highest quality of materials and production, but by no means are rare or endangered.


“Working with mater is a chance for a designer to connect with local artisans to exchange ideas. With globalization the world is losing indigenous crafts, which is why an awareness of preserving such crafts is increasingly important," adds designer Todd Bracher.


The mater foundation

The mater Foundation funds social and environmental initiatives carried out in collaboration with audited manufacturers and workshops. Revenues for the projects are generated from the sale of limited-edition mater designs that will be auctioned internationally from spring 2008.

To pass the audit and be eligible for funding, manufacturers must commit to implementing the principles of the United Nations' Global Compact within a given timeframe. Information on all sponsored projects and manufacturer audits are available from

Mater will be part of TOWNHOUSE DK project in London, from September 2007.

Mater's products will be available from November 2007 in leading European design shops. Find out more on

Resources & code of conduct

UN Global Compact:

UN’s declaration on human rights:

ILO conventions:

ICC business charter on sustainable development:

CSR Compass – developed by confederation of Danish Industries:

Danish Technological Institute Department for Human Resources Development:


Appendix 1 to press release September 2007

Mater Zero Tolerance Policy

Mater will not conduct business with a supplier engaged in violations of fundamental human rights. The following practices are therefore considered unacceptable:

  • The use of bonded and forced labour, including forced prison labour and human trafficking.
  • Worst forms of child labour, including forced child labour, child prostitution, and other work which is likely to jeopardise the health, safety and morals of children.
  • Any harsh, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment of employees.
  • The exposure of employees to life-threatening work environments, where they have not been informed of the dangers and where protective measures have not been undertaken.
  • Deliberately causing substantial pollution to air or water, or substantial soil contamination.
  • Any complicity in violations of international humanitarian law and other crimes against the human person as defined by international law, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, torture, forced disappearances, hostage taking and extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

If Mater has reason to believe that such violations are being committed by a supplier, the business relationship will be terminated immediately. If we have reason to believe that the supplier was aware of the violation and willingly operated in violation of fundamental human rights, the supplier may be reported to the proper authorities.