Design and technology: a sustainable weave

Alcantara and Microsoft continue their collaboration with an eye on sustainability, applying novel renewable materials to the Surface Pro Signature keyboard

Surface Pro Signature keyboard by Microsoft & Alcantara
Surface Pro Signature keyboard by Microsoft & Alcantara

For the first time, in 2016 Microsoft presented the Alcantara Signature Edition Type Cover, a new accessory for Surface Pro 4: a thin, ultracompact keyboard covered in Alcantara, in two shades of gray. The idea behind this exclusive collaboration perfectly combining design and technology came from the intuition of Rachel Bell, Color & Materials Designer for Microsoft Devices, who “wanted to find a fabric that could make the consumer experience extraordinary, of such high quality as to improve with age, just like your favorite leather jacket.”

With a background in the world of textiles, Rachel found a response in Alcantara and its innovative formula, a strong, durable material of minimal design and tactile excellence. One year later came two new offerings that expanded the “Surface” family and its cladding possibilities: the Surface Laptop and the Surface Pro 5 with keyboards covered in this material 100% Made in Italy, in hues of bordeaux, cobalt blue and platinum.

Today’s new development continues the project, expanding its objectives in terms of sustainability. From the outset, in fact, Microsoft and Alcantara have worked together to create products based on the perspective of the circular economy, through the addition of renewable materials in hardware devices.

With the new Microsoft Surface Pro Signature keyboards in the colors Forest and Sapphire, the operation thus reaches a higher level: the keyboard is made with a partially bio-based version of the Alcantara material composed by at least 12% of renewable content derived from sugar cane waste, capable of conserving the soft touch effect, performance and versatility of Alcantara.

“This is an incremental but also exciting step in the redesign of materials of the next generation for the Pro keyboard, reducing the dependency on natural resources – as explained by the Italian company. – This approach to incorporation of circular design principles in product development aims to rewrite the way Microsoft’s technology is designed, following a model of ‘reduction, reutilization and recovery’ that limits waste to a minimum and extends the life cycle of the Surface devices as long as possible.”