Marco Susini - Durga CEO - Interview

There are different approaches to chemistry. The industrial, synthetic one; and the one which resonates with nature: respectful of health and the environment.

Durga's story

It was 1994 when Marco Susini, Tuscan, turns an essential page of the book of his life: I was involved in chemical research, and I wanted to start this little, gentle revolution. These are the origins and the first steps of Durga, a company that produces natural primers and paints (but also soap and sanitisers) in Acciaiolo, Pisa. Susini is one of the pioneers in the sector, and his revolution is anything but "small"! He plays it down:
We were not the first as the Germans started it. We have a couple of competitors nowadays...

Not many in a market born in the early 90s, at the beginning of the green approach to production. A market that is still a niche. The idea that started the fire is simple but indeed not easy to implement.
I wanted to create a series of products free from petroleum derivatives, allergenic substances, and products dangerous to the environment and humans.

The idea of Petrol-free varnishes and paints in a world dominated by multinationals was challenging indeed. The construction sector, at the time, was far from green building and eco-sustainability, travelling at full speed on other logic and culture: It was about getting involved with this bet. In the woodworking sector, too: petroleum derivative dominated everywhere. Susini explains. But the problem is that the effects of pollutants are still mainly hidden today. Durga, therefore, made a technical choice which is an ethical choice as well: we decided to follow the cycle of nature:
We choose natural ingredients that do not pollute the environment; we do not create or use molecules we do not know in nature.

No Prometheanism, therefore, but respect for the Divine Mother (which is the meaning of the name Durga in the Hindu religion). A choice that, over time, turned out to be right. Over the past twenty years, all the underestimated issues have slowly emerged. Think of allergies, a phenomenon that unfortunately is increasing: home furniture, parquet floors but also walls have become a threat - Susini complains - there are now numerous studies on indoor pollution, in the USA, in Europe and even in Tuscany. One of the paradoxical elements emerging from this story is that we bring pollutants into our own homes.
Indoor pollution is higher than outdoor pollution, meaning a house is sometimes more dangerous than outdoor environments!

Clarifies Susini. A river of poisons that flows into a sea of ​​health problems: One consequence is, for example, asthma. Products such as water-based paints continue to be used, thinking that they are non-toxic, but they are vehicles for pollution. False myths that can be found in anyone's experience: who has never heard, with a smile, of a "water-based" paint? The problem is not the water, of course: but what is in the water!

A natural lesson

Nature is the ideal synthesis laboratory; it can give us what we need while maintaining balance in the environment. The problem is to spread this information and to promote this sensitivity. In 1994 there was strong scepticism from conventional distribution channels. Today our customers are green building shops, businesses and individuals. In recent years the situation has changed; it has opened up. We supply specialised companies, and therefore, there is greater attention on the part of resellers. The natural paints sector is still a niche, but it is expanding. But from the legislative point of view, is there any news in favour of environmental sustainability? There are new rules on the use of biocides in paints and glues for furniture, and they are positive laws - Susini replies - but they do not represent the solution. We aim for low formaldehyde emissions, but the emission is, even if slower, constant anyway. The other issue is the supposed higher cost of these ecological products. The prices are actually in line with a lot of high/medium quality conventional products. They are not high costs at all. When choosing very cheap products, you have to consider that there may be ingredients that are also harmful to health. It's easy to write "natural product" on a label: but you would have to declare all the components that are used! When we buy, let's also remember that we stay in contact with the paint for many hours a day. And finally, from our chat, another tremendous contemporary madness emerges: we are witnessing the paradox of "Class A" houses or, in any case, highly thermally insulated, but to the detriment of health, because, with poor air circulation, there is a closed vessel effect, so closed that the fumes of harmful substances cannot escape! What could be more brutally defined as an unconscious "gas chamber", where we close ourselves in, for ignorance of the facts! These are absurdities that would have been remedied today because with natural products now, you can fight many phenomena, even fight the dreaded mould: In the conventional world, they try to use chlorine, which discolours the mould, but then it has to be applied again after a few months. In other words, the problem has not been solved at the base - explains Susini - We use salts, potassium, silver and others with a fundamental characteristic: they crystallise and remain unchanged, and therefore, the action remains over the years and without harmful fumes in the environment. Interview by Gian Basilio Nieddu originally published on