At Savoir we collaborate with leaders, masters and the most respected names within design. We are thrilled to reveal our recent collaboration with the master of leatherwork, Bill Amberg. One of the most respected names in contemporary British leather craft; we went on a journey with Bill to reawaken the leather bed.
The new leather bed is a celebration of British craft and innovation. Based a stone’s throw away from the Savoir Bedworks in North West London, we sat down with Bill in his studio to discuss how he brought together a modern aesthetic, pioneering leather printing technique and heritage craft to deliver a fresh approach to a classic piece of furniture
What was the inspiration behind the designs?
There are two designs, ‘Sky’ and ‘Ocean.’ For both, I found the idea of transitioning from dark into light interesting; the gentle shift from night into day and from the sleeping into the waking hours.
The inspiration was from the light at dawn, moving into day and the light over the ocean in the very early hours respectively. I created two paintings that for me, reflect these calm and quite cathartic periods of the day.
What was your design process for creating the two moods?
First, I created some A4 watercolours, and then scaled these up to A2 watercolours, applied using a mix of sprays and marbling techniques. Once I’d captured the mood of the dawning, I transferred to 2×3 metre sheets of watercolour paper and created full-size paintings, drawing on details from the sky and the ocean. These were then scanned 1:1, in preparation for digital printing.
Tell us why you introduced brass in to the design?
I love brass for its softness and malleability, but also for its colour. It’s a very sympathetic material to put with leather and so much nicer to live with than steel.
Why did you choose to collaborate with Savoir?
When I called in on the Savoir factory, which is just around the corner from us in North West London, I was in awe at the quality of their work. That really got me thinking about sleep and my perfect bed, and started the thought process about the transition from dark into light; and how we might realise that together.
How important is British craft to you?
As a team of designers and specialist leatherworkers, my business is rooted in craft. From the selection of materials and their provenance (including wellbeing and husbandry of the animal), through to creation and development of leathers, the leathercraft techniques involved and the physical act of crafting what we make. All aspects of British craftsmanship are central to the work of my studio, and always have been.
We bring together artisans from very traditional leathercraft disciplines, including saddlery, casemaking, bookbinding and bag making. The idea is that everyone cross-trains and learns from each other. In this way, we’re able to reinterpret these traditional skills, for use in contemporary interiors, furniture and products.
How did the Bill Amberg Studio develop the digitally printed leather?
I’ve long been interested in the intersection between craft and cutting-edge technology. The science that has gone into creating the digitally printed leather, or ‘Print’ as we call it, has been three years in the making.
To produce a suitable canvas for printing on, we developed a type of leather tannage from scratch. This was carefully designed to accept the dyes used in digital printing, whilst still retaining the handle and character of the leather. It was important to us that our practices also met and surpassed the strictest sustainability and environmental criteria for leather production.
Any exciting upcoming projects?
In line with London Design Festival in September, we will be launching a further range of digitally-printed leathers alongside some exciting collaborators, at Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross.
We have some interesting large-scale architectural projects in the works for the coming months too, and are also working on our first range of woven leather lights.
Final question, which we ask all our collaborators – How important is sleep and your bed to you?
Sleep is the ultimate regenerator for the mind, body and spirit. A comfy bed is therefore essential.
To uncover more of our collaborations, please visit the design page.