The Baby Elephant: A Sonic Sofa I’ll never forget!..

Is it just me or has this year just seemed to fly by?- Now we’re in Mid October 2019 and It’s been an incredible year. With social media it feels so quick and easy to post pics and keep followers updated on my most recent projects. However I must include this beauty here.

A rare opportunity to refurbish and recover a modern design classic : The “Baby Elephant “ sofa, Designed by Richard Stump for Sir Terrence Conran.

It was a tricky one because the wings, or elephant “ears” were designed and built with speakers fitted into the wings and there is a space directly under the seat designed for a suitably sized amplifier or sub-woofer.
Reupholstery involved carefully partially dismantling the sound units to ensure the fitted cover , a plain wool/polyamide/lycra mix called “Front 2” by @ludvigsvensson, chosen for its weight, durability and (hopefully), sound-allowing qualities .
My many thanks to Anna F @irreverentsideshows for giving me a hand and to the owners , a lovely and patient couple from Bermondsey, south London, for giving me the opportunity to work with them on such a rare beast!

A Svenskt Tenn Twin Seduction

I fully re-upholstered the first of these two J.C & M.P Smith Ltd Winged Mid-late 20th century armchairs for an award-winning interior designer
Nicola Holden Interiors,

Covered in one of my favourite textile designers, Josef Frank, who designed “Teheran” in the mid-1940’s, however, it’s first print run came in 1991, Available exclusively from Svenskt Tenn

In my perhaps over eagerness to provide the most optimum suspension it had to return to the workshop so I could change the webbing back from Pirelli to jumbo elastic
I guess that chair was so pleased to return, it brought its twin with it!

I totally stripped it back to the frame, and like the first, made sure I fitted the appropriate barrier cloth so the chair met all the UK health, safety and Fire Regs. Finally covering it in another earlier design, circa 1928 called “Aralia”


Re-staining and polishing the show wood , the abundance of colour and the overall finish with nice personal touches from me, like the multicoloured top-stitching on both seat cushions and velvet buttoning in complimentary colours served to deepen my appreciation for this inspirational designers work and gratitude to my client for giving me the opportunity to produce such statement pieces.

My heartfelt thanks also go out to Anna F for assisting me in this process.

A Smart Bavarian Beauty!..

Before: Bavarian Cocktail Chair

This Cocktail Chair, a family heirloom from Bavaria, arrived in my studio workshop (via Erith), at the recommendation of the owner’s partner, a mutual friend who had been following and appreciating my work since we both used to be members of an east London housing co-operative.

Moth-eaten and in need of some love and care, After a fabric and design consultation my client agreed to go with a Herringbone weave from Harlequin, called “Parquet” in colour “Bramble”

Keeping in constant contact with the client during the process of reupholstery was a joy which resulted in some lovely touches, which I feel enhanced the overall new look, including details like the decorative close-nailing in “French Natural” nails and the dark chocolate leather piping detail which gave the chair an air of contemporary though classic elegance.


Pretty in Pink Parker Knoll#2

Hey thanks NicolaIt has been a fair while since I’ve posted on my website (sorry about that- I’ve had alot on!). Longer still since I’ve had an opportunity to work on a Parker Knoll Sofa-bed.
Like waiting around ages for a bus – Then two come at once!

Well in truth, I completed refurbishment and recover of two Parker Knoll sofas at different times last year for the same lovely couple based near Turnpike Lane in North London

The most recent refurbishment and recover , in an eye-catching pink Velvet from @Kobe_interior_design, from their ” Real Velvet”, was in such a poor state on arrival to my workshop that full re-upholstery had to be undertaken.

Once upholstery was completed. I had to change the worn and damaged old mixed pairs of castors to a gorgeous set of brand new Sheperd Kenrick castors, otherwise it would would of looked like the equivalent of shoving on an old pair of battered trainers on a bespoke tailored suit!

As it took me a while to complete both , It also took my customer a while to find the right lighting before sending me some gorgeous photos of it in situ.

Pretty in Pink! (isn’t she?)

My heartfelt thanks to all the valued assistants who have helped me to complete this project :Anna F, Rowena Murphy and Jane Latchford




More Monkey Madness: Transforming a Wingback Chair

Before:

This wingback chair was originally donated to me by my good friend, super talented artist and fellow meditator Raksha Patel, which was found discarded on the site of Raksha’s old studio many years ago, at a time when she and a group of her fellow artist friends had to leave a block of studios they used in west London which were being converted into luxury apartments.

For a while there it took pride of place in my living room, giving me a place to sit after many long hours at the workbench. Although it arrived grubby and unloved, I knew If I held onto it long enough , eventually I would find the time to reupholster it.

Thanks to (repeated) episodes of Money for Nothing, a fan of the BBC show got in touch,  requesting a wingback chair to be recovered in my Monkey print, which they had seen on the show. I had other donor chairs but the shapes were not suitable so in the end I offered them the chair. Although I was alittle sad to see it go, I couldnt miss this perfect opportunity to transform the piece and, in my own fabric design.

The ” Rip down” process revealed a really shoddy build quality and a shocking use of really low grade upholstery materials, ripping out cardboard and plastic webbing , which I had ripped out and replaced with Strong elastic webbing , 120z hessian and rubberised hair behind, and to bolster the existing foams used to create the arm shapes. I went on to protect the existing foams in the back and seat suspensions, though the additional use of 12oz Hessian and Polyester Skin wadding, which was completely missing in the original chairs manufacture.

 

 

After:

Refurbished and transformed, the old chair did take a little longer to complete than I had originally hoped. However it was finally looking resplendant in my own signature Monkey print on moleskin Velvet, trimmed with Zoffany Velvet and complimented with Sanderson Brianza . With the new Beech wood Queen anne legs , customised in my own spirit-based grey woodstain.

 

My Many thanks go out to Stacey Lewis, a fellow upholsterer, who came in to assist me in getting this ready, as well as helping me work through many projects in my workshop (reducing my backlog). I also want to say a special thank you to Anna Frisch for her assistance , Heritage Upholstery Supplies for helping me source the new legs. I also wish to thank Anyvan.com for the swift, safe and affordable courier delivery up to Dunstable. My Customer had originally commisioned the piece for her sister, who  upon seeing it, said

“It was better than she thought,  loves the fabric used and was over the moon!”

 

 

A Roche Bobois Reimagined…

Before:

Getting the opportunity to transform a piece of “High-end” furniture for an high profile customers Trish Evans & Baz Bamigboye was more than a pleasure. It was a complete privilege. From the moment the owners of this statement piece of 20th century modern furniture contacted me. I knew that something special would emerge. The fabrics and colours chosen complimented the other existing pieces as well a wall hanging sourced from their adventures in India.  Trish very kindly brought over the first sections and as time progressed the sofa would involve a tremendous  amount of cutting, sewing , hand-stitching, stuffing, buttoning and finishing. The process of re-upholstery was delayed as my studio had succumb to an “unimaginable”flood and a clean-up operation, which in and of itself tested my resolve greater than the project itself (more about that flood perhaps in another post)

After:

This Roche Bobois Mah Jong sofa  reimagined in a selection of sumputous Designers Guild velvets in Azure, Granite and Pale Jade from their Varese range. Combined with an additional Teal velvet from Iwantfabric.com.

All fabrics were made compliant to meet UK Health safety & Fire Regulations.

My hearfelt thanks go out to Rowena Murphy and Anna Frisch for their amazing assistance during the process of re-upholstery and special thanks to Trish & Baz for their patience, compassion, understanding , support and custom.

Bless this House(Boat)…A Virgin pattern match made in heaven

Producing these saloon-style doors was a challenge. Some pretty nifty shaping and fitting by James and cutting and pattern matching by yours truly was acheived with on these saloon-style bespoke padded doors, covered in a linen print of the Virgin Mary (customer’s fabric choice). All while ensuring that fabrics were made compliant through the use of a flame retardant barriercloth. My Thanks to Alice & James of the “Toady” boat for their custom and support. Stay blessed.

Money for Nothing Project5: Jay VS Ray (Round2) Rocking a Pair of Farmhouse Chairs

Before:

Whenever an opportunity to reupholster furniture comes with a fairly open brief in terms of design  I always meet it with a sense of excitement, anticipation and just a little anxiety.

So when Jay Blades and the Money for Nothing film crew came to my studio with these two sorry-looking farmhouse style rocking and static armchairs, despite my initial reactions I did have a few ideas bubbling up for the cushions the overall look, however, unfortunately, due to time pressures and other projects on the bench, There wasn’t enough time to come up with another of my own completely original fabric designs.

I did, however, have a vision in mind of some types of fabrics I wanted to use. Being a Massive fan of Timorous Beasties work in Scotland I had to get my hands on one of their amazing designs.

How I treated the show wood was a question I pondered on for a while:

With great respect to the growing numbers of upcyclers, hobbyists and others keen to revamp their furniture, I wanted to treat the wood to a  finish which was a bit different than just simply repainting, and consequently hiding the wonderful grain patterns, knots and characteristics of these Beech wood frames.

Inspiration came within a few feet of my cutting bench when I noticed while sewing some offcuts of a Designers Guild fabric under the cutting table I had used earlier on this year. A wool from their Capisoli range which had a vertical Ombré effect. I thought: ” What If I translated that effect into the wood using a wood stain as opposed to a paint?

After:

May I present to you this re-imagined vintage farmhouse chairs, now in a stunning @timorous_beasties #Grand Blotch Damask.

Accented with Tangerine velvet piping from @kobe_interior_design “Real” velvet range and complementary border fabrics made from @sanderson1860 “Brianza” creamy velvet.

These chairs had to be fully restored: All joints, back rails, and broken spindles fully repaired and all suspension systems cleaned and refitted.

I  created a custom wood stain with a “3D Ombré” effect.  Featuring deep forest greens moving through to autumnal moss. enhanced through many polished layers of  Beeswax.
To be honest this project became more a labour of love than money folks. Hopefully, these two lovelies will feature in a future episode of @monfornothing for BBC1
Many thanks go out to Olga Mackenzie and Rowena Murphy for their assistance, and Tom Foy for all his woodworking advice and masterful craftsmanship in replacing the broken inside back wood dowel.

 

 

To Be Frank, I think Josef is amazing..

Before:

Two sets of  four mid 20th century modern dining room chairs were given a smart refurbishment once they arrived at my studio.

From the look of the show wood they had experienced some water damage and the fillings had completely disintegrated beyond the point from which they could be re-used.

After:

A bit of love and attention to the show wood, some new composite foams protected with skin wadding, and a barrier cloth,

the chairs’ seats were finished smart linen from Svenskt Tenn screen-printed with an original 1930’s design called “Celotocaulis” by Josef Frank.

“Celoto” comes from an asian flower species characterised by a plume-like flower decoration and “Caulis” is the Latin word for flower stalk.

The thing I love about Josef franks’ work is you can clearly see and get a feel of the inspiration that Josef gained through his travels around the world,

which clearly informs the many dozens of designs he left to Estrid Ericson and the Svenskt Tenn company after his death.

A rich and enduring print and textile design legacy that transforms any piece of furniture brave enough to wish to have itself reimagined in.

A great little upholstery project which inspires me to continue to evolve my own sense of design.

With Many thanks To Nicola Holden Interiors

Money For Nothing: Ray & Jay Moving, Making & upcycling ..

For any upholsterers and soft furnishers moving their studio to a new site, I feel for you. In my experience the process can be stressful, never-ending and exhausting! My Thanks to Anna F and Rowena Murphy for helping me with some logistics ( and some very heavy lifting!).

Imagine you have barely loaded in the last of your boxes, when an opportunity (not to mention a camera crew) arrives, to not only work with someone you’ve long since admired through social media, a certain Mr Jay Blades, but to do it on national television.

I felt exhausted after the move, but excited to finally work with a leading light in furniture up cycling. Jay was a new presenter on the TV Show Money for Nothing (BBC1 tv). He brought a couple of pieces for me to choose from.

I decided I get to grips with a sorry-looking (but full of character) Mid-20th century modern armchair.

With barely a pair of trestles and some hand tools unpacked, the “rip down” process revealed a piece which had already brought new life of its own: Among the creatures living inside the upholstery were a family of woodlice, and a particularly big green and plump garden Slug , which from the picture above, already made its presence felt by leaving a long , undulating slug trail all over the seat, inside back and outside arms and back.

An enjoyable bit of banter with Jay  and myself discussing fabric and design options unfortunately never made it into the final edit for that show. To be honest , after the studio move I was so mentally and physically tired , and the ideas I came up with for re-imagining the chair were in excess of the budget. Sometimes it’s better just to go with the flow too, as Jay supplied the fabrics and knowing the type of work he has produced in the past I had a definite idea of the type of look Jay was after. It was just up to me to put in the graft.

And so too the rip down. Having packed away my mask I had to improvise with “a knotted hanky” made from some scrap calico. I did indeed discover that this chair had plenty of life left inside it… some of it was still moving!!

Making sure no living creatures were harmed I carefully removed each of the woodlice and capturing them in a cup, went out to release them back into the wild (well, not so much wild, as the neighbouring public green/ recreational space across the road from the studio space. When it came to finding a slug , having isolated the chair from the rest of the furniture projects in the studio overnight, by the time I returned to finish off cleaning up the chair our little friend had managed to embed itself in the last bits of filling in the seat base, starved of moisture/ fluids it had dried out completely.

After:

After putting in some hours and with great help from my assistant Rowena Murphy (A big thanks!), the chair came together quite well. Covered in a light grey and Charcoal Wool, accented with baby blue piping in just the areas I thought Jay would appreciate. As a homage to the dead slug the seat base used a limey-green wool (not sure of the source, It felt like Kvadrat’s top quality Davina range)I did pull a few all-nighters to get the last bits ready and the morning of the final shoot/big reveal I felt little “ropey”to say the least, and perhaps a little bit touchy as well,  after I got a little miffed for a millisecond there at the way one of the crew spoke to my assistant, who arrived at the studio towards the end of filming, having also put in a shift to help me get this ready ). In the end it was a job I thought reasonably well done and my big thanks to Rowena , Anna F and the irrepressible Jay Blades and the crew for their enthusiasm. Unfortunately the chair did not sell within the filming schedule so I hope it eventually finds a great home.

Atelier Ray Clarke Ltd T/A Ray Clarke Upholstery & Design Company registration number :12018355