This reproduction Edwardian-style wingback had seen better days: The right hand facing wing had begun to “flap” around, the seat cushion contained Feathers which had totally degraded and it’s arms has seen better days
I had brought a selection of my finest velvet ranges to my clients home, where I presented them to choose from I looked over their chair to check its condition. Once a fabric had been agreed (An FR version of a Kobe “Real” velvet, after some discussions between myself and my client, it was decided to go for some special decorative nails as opposed to the original piping detail, to provide a different finishing detail to the front arm scrolls. I also instead of using the fillings from the original seat cushion decided to discard and make up a completely new foam & feather combination bespoke seat cushion.
The original arm fillings were removed and also discarded having lost their density and “return”, giving me the opportunity to fit hessian in front of the jumbo elastic webbing. Replacing the old crumbly fillings with upgraded rubberised hair and foams .
I couldn’t get this piece ready in time for xmas, for which I was extremely apologetic. However just before new year this piece was collected and my clients reaction said it looked fab and “Soooo comfortable”. A dream realised in aquamarine. Many thanks to Richard & Cathy Green for your patience and custom.
While getting over a rotten head cold/feeling run down.. this became my first reclining armchair, a 12-year old Ligne Roset “Petite Seistre” in Yarwood Hammersmith “moss” Leather with mustard top-stitching. Challenges (apart from top-stitching ) involved sourcing the right colour and sized eyelets for fitting the head rest struts, and sourcing a new feet to replace the plastic ones (especially the one odd shaped one that was fitted as a replacement).
In December/January this year I was contacted by a Paul Firbank, AKA The Rag & Bone Man, to come up with a technical solution to a chair he had designed and built. Paul is a wizard transforming scrap metal into desirable objects, lighting and furniture (check out some of his amazing work in this great video below)
At his invitation to site, I opened a door (to what I thought was a disused retail space nearby Wembley Stadium) and was totally stunned (and excited)by what I saw: Paul and his team had been breaking up an Airbus 320 commercial airliner (minus its engines and landing gear). Working day & night transforming as much of the aircraft as they could into beautiful furniture , desirable household items and lighting .
After picking up my jaw up off the ground, Paul showed me around the space, explaining the reason why he took on such a massive project: As part of a programme by Kevin McCloud for Channel 4, where Kevin Illustrates how to combat the challenge of growing industrial waste in our environment through upcycling & recycling in a 90-minute TV special,through challenging three designers (one of which being Paul )to turn an entire Airbus A320 into hundreds of amazing new products in a giant ‘Up-cycling’ experiment. Their task is to find new uses for as much of the plane as possible within the given timeframe, leaving only an empty hangar behind them. The designers to turn the aircraft into loads of amazing new products, the best of the bespoke items would then be auctioned off, with the proceeds (hopefully exceeding the purchase price for the aircraft )going to childrens cancer charity The NCCA.
After showing me around the site Paul presented the chair he wanted help with. His work is incredible! The armrests came from the airplane fuselages structural beams. Paul used the suspension fashioned from the webbing used to carry cargo/luggage.
One of my challenges involved reshaping the webbing: Each join on the cargo netting was originally glued as well as stitched together and had to be taken apart without compromising its tensile strength and load-carrying capacity.
The single seat itself was created fusing two of the existing passenger seats. Refurbishing & modifying them so the user can enjoy a relaxed and supported position with a good lower back support. Adjusters were stitched into the seat’s suspension for users to adjust the suspension where required.
From the various fabrics discussed and presented to Paul, a smart,strong and complimentary coloured tweed from Bute Fabrics in Scotland was chosen. As I worked with the fabric I imagined and applied a stitched, quilted pattern
that I thought would respect the original design lines of the passenger seats.
Overall, it felt a great privilege to be involved in such an exciting innovative project which steps up to illustrate to the extreme the growing problem of industrial waste which strikes to the heart
of a real social, environmental and economic concern.
My sincere and deep thanks go out to Anna Frisch & Ana De Matos for their advice & support.
Aine Sheehan for her assistance in realising this chairs prototype upholstery
& Joanna Williams & Jennifer Wingfield @ Flock for their support
Bute Fabrics for their swift response and great service
and mostly to Paul & Lizzie for giving me the opportunity.
My sincerest thanks to Aine Sheehan for her french polishing, and finishing(hand-sewing)skills, Anna F for her pattern-forming & cutting and Ola (of Global Chauffeurs ), as well as Addison Lee vans for assisting me in the refurbishment,recover ,production and delivery of a 3-piece art-deco-style suite and complete set of 16 bespoke banquette seat cushions for a very patient high-profile client in Clapham, South London. A lot of stitching (particularly double-piping)went into this. Many lessons in time, human resourcing and project management learned.
It’ so typical of me to not notice this until now.. You know how it is..you get so busy working you never know how and where you work ends up …Props to Flock Design Collective for Getting my work displayed at this shop in Stoke Newington in September.
Atelier Ray Clarke Ltd T/A Ray Clarke Upholstery & Design Company registration number :12018355
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