2024 Sustainable Design Award: Alkemis


Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. In the case of Alkemis, it was the quest for a paint whose smell wouldn’t disturb her neighbors in lockdown that galvanized cofounder Maya Crowne to search for an alternative. What she discovered—that latex and acrylic paints are akin to covering walls in molten plastic—prompted her to seek a better solution. With the help of cofounder Price Latimer, an artist schooled in the mesmerizing history of color, and a team of chemists, the result is an odor-free quartz- based spirit that is completely sustainable, as verified by its Cradle to Cradle certification. Offering 119 colors that span the entire spectrum of the rainbow, all derived from blending raw materials with 10 natural pigments and completely free of plasticizers, solvents and preservatives—“we don’t do high gloss, because that shine comes from plastic; we don’t do neons, because they’re not found in nature”—the paint’s velvet-matte finish is not just beautiful but durable, nonflammable and anti-mold. “There are centuries-old European buildings whose exteriors were painted using this same technology that are still beautiful today,” says Latimer. “What we’re learning now in a lot of modern industries is that sometimes you have to go backward to create something forward- thinking.”

Photos by Joe Kramm

The paint’s velvet-matte finish, shown here in Quetzal, is not only beautiful, derived from blending raw materials with 10 natural pigments, but also sustainable, free of plasticizers, solvents and preservatives, a fact that is underlined by its Cradle to Cradle certification, unique in the industry. Easy to apply and dense enough to often need only one coat, the durable paint, which comes with a 20-year guarantee, is also nonflammable and mold-resistant.

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