Hopefully if you’ve been practising upholstery and soft furnishings and successfully completing lots of good work for a fair amount of time eventually you will come across a project which not only lights your fire but opens up all kinds of possibilities that you previously either hadn’t considered or hadn’t had the chance to do.
In January this year , I was given just that sort of opportunity; to not only provide upholstery, but given (almost) free reign to explore (and hopefully exceed) any limits of my creative expression.
Enter Friel-Kean Films, producers of the BBC TV SHOW “Money For Nothing” , ever growing its audience base, it is becoming one of the most popular shows on the BBC.
For those who have not seen it click on the link Here :
The premise of the show is simple:
Presenter, upcycler, entrepreneur and furniture and antiques enthusiast Sarah Moore goes up and down this green and pleasant land saving industrial and household waste thrown away at refuse and recycling centres by the general public, who don’t see the potential and value in the things that they throw away, like some sort of frenzied furniture Womble” (older readers may get the reference).
Then in each episode Sarah gives items she’s found to featured artisans and craftspeople, paying them to transform the items into hopefully beautiful, desirable, functional, saleable finished pieces.
Sarah then takes the items and resells them , hopefully at a profit, with which she then visits the previous owners of theitems, handing them cash to surprised and sometimes bemused faces, at the end of each successful project, hopefully demonstrating that in the right hands, It is quite possible to turn trash into cash.
(Thanks for that you lovely people!)
Sarah arrived at my studio with 3 different projects. one of which I had to turn away due to the timescales involved. The first project I was itching to have a crack at was this Mid-20th century modern armchair I surmised from the materials used and its construction. Despite no clear manufacturers stamp I felt it had a lot of character.
AfterThroughout the 10 years+ I have practised upholstery and soft furnishings, I always harboured the ambition to design and produce my own furnishing fabrics.
This particular project gave me the impetus to finally bring (and update) my previous experiences in printed textile design back into my current creative expression through upholstery and soft furnishings.
It was a magical day when I finally received my first digitally printed roll of fabric. I have been very fortunate to have been able to get access to and usefurnishing fabrics from some of the greatest companies in Europe and from around the world.
Nothing beats being able to produce your own designs, and then getting the ability to apply your fabric or design to a piece or pieces of furniture,
which, although the chair didn’t sell in time for the 1st airing of that episode, literally sold the very next day after it aired, to a lovely family who saw the show and my work, not only buying the chair but also a set of bespoke scatter cushions to compliment.
This experience continues to inspire me to not only come up with more designs but educates me in the process of marketing and selling the fabric,which for me is a continuous learning process.
Like all shows, there have been some critics. Feedback I’ve read on social media about some of the items made on and for the show have focussed on the prices mentioned as not being a true reflection of the type of work involved, or comments on the look and quality of finish of some items. To those critics I say, it’s a TV show which in my experience has been mostly, and I hope continues to be, extremely positive.
Just doing this type of work gets great exposure. Plus the number and types of enquiries it generates, even though at times it may feel overwhelming (you have to fit it into what you’ve got currently on and around the workbench), well, that’s priceless.
If you are an upholsterer or designer-maker who loves what they do, when an opportunity like this comes to you, well, you’ve got to go for it!!
My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone I roped into helping me complete this particular project: Anna Frisch, Joanna Maeva, all the production team at Friel Kean Films, The Cloth Shop, my upholstery warehousemen/suppliers, Wendy Shorter, Louise at Shoreditch Design Rooms, my dearest Louise Jinks, Nina, Jan Etoile and all my dear friends who consoled, counselled and fed me tea, biscuits, words of encouragement and support along the way.