Muirhead, Morgan & Michael.
I love collaborating on projects, connecting with new people and networking. I call it the ‘lighthouse effect’ and it is a natural reaction to being a freelance designer, for without a beacon, the freelancer can struggle with workflow and solitude.
In all honestly, I shone out some light on social media and created a status asking if anyone wanted to do a furnishing collaboration. Straight away I received messages from upholsterers who wanted some of my fabric designs, but I sought a real collaboration where I could work with someone to create something innovative and exciting.
Expecting to make serious contacts for work from social media mostly ends in disappointment. It isn’t the normal way to go about things, it’s risky, but I’m of the opinion that the effort costs nothing and casting a wide net can bring in an interesting catch. As a result of the post, I fortuitously connected with Catherine Martin from Muirhead leather, who were, by chance looking for exactly the same thing…
Beneath the Surface with Digital Leather Printing. By Morgan seating:
Premium UK leather manufacturer, Andrew Muirhead & Son recently introduced a new technical offering in the form of an exclusive digital printing capability. The in-house digital printer offers endless design opportunities, which are locked under the protective top coating applied to the leather, ensuring contract specification standards.
Muirhead began the challenging task of finding a designer who could offer an emphasis on extremely detailed designs that would showcase the capabilities of their printer. This led Muirhead to Michael Angove who is a specialist in surface pattern, with a particular emphasis on complex botanical chinoiserie. Michael’s attention to detail, hidden imagery and clever use of shadow makes his pattern, designs and products both beautiful and entertaining. As predicted, these designs worked amazingly well on the Muirhead leather surfaces.
Morgan was approached during Clerkenwell Design Week 2017, with an initial meeting to discuss the possibilities of upholstering Morgan’s new Havana chair in the printed leather. The new Havana Collection puts the spotlight on structure with its sculptural timber frame, which becomes a key element of the design. Characterised by a refined, hand-crafted and dynamic shaped side profile, Havana offers a unique take on an archetypal, mid-century style. With its dynamic structure and modern design, the new collection is perfect for a variety of interiors.
Following the meeting, Michael built two designs of Mimosa and Lime Tree and engineered them to specifically fit to the chair on single panels of leather that adhered to the upholstery technique of the chair. The patterns were chosen to enhance the substrate colour of the leather and to connect the interior with the exterior.
Mimosa is a warm, Mediterranean plant with intricate fern-like leaves and clouds of tiny, yellow pompom flowers. Lime Tree has heart-shaped leaves and an unusual blossom, whilst the overall shape of the tree is that of a chandelier. Both designs have hidden insect and animal life within them, making the patterns interactive and bursting with life. This not only gives the pattern longevity but also connects the inside to the outside. The patterns were created by taking hundreds of scans and photographs from real plants. These were then meticulously cut out and digitally assembled into complex, repeating patterns.
Once the designs had been approved and printed it was up to Morgan’s skilled upholsterers to complete the chairs. The final product, showcasing this new method of combining customized pattern design with contract quality upholstery will be featured at 100% Design this September, on the Andrew Muirhead stand.