Artist, Upholster & Designer
The world of interior design is a collaborative industry by nature. In the same way that an interior designer may draw on several different pools of inspiration and combine them to communicate one cohesive design vision, the process of bringing the vision itself to life calls for collaboration too. Brian muses on the art of collaboration and discusses the topic with the multidisciplinary artist, upholsterer and designer Aiveen Daly.
Working with interior design industry experts
Any given project, be it the interior design scheme for a private holiday villa or a luxury hotel, will undoubtedly involve the joint efforts of visionaries from several different fields. At Designed by Woulfe, we may be discussing how to achieve seamless indoor-outdoor living with a garden landscaper one day and then debating which type of wall finishes to choose for a private home cinema with a paint and plaster specialist the next.
The best work is produced when people come together, and over the years, we’ve built up an extensive network of industry contacts. One of the best parts of the job is collaborating with creatives from different fields on projects across the world. Our extended team of consultants span all sorts of crafts, providing insight into lighting, audio-visual, landscape architecture, craftsmanship, product and furniture design, and more.
We always aim to forge and maintain genuine relationships with a variety of suppliers both here in the UK and overseas. Having a global network allows us to easily cater to our international clientele while discovering new collaborators in foreign locations too. We enjoy championing young product designers and craftspeople whenever and wherever possible in order to support and nurture fresh talent.
I lived in Asia for five years and during this time, was gifted with the opportunity to expand my worldview and knowledge on different artisanal techniques. Travel continues to be a great source of inspiration for me and the rest of the team at Designed by Woulfe, encouraging new ways of thinking about design as well as providing the chance to meet and collaborate with artists and artisans first-hand while learning from their techniques.
Our studio recently completed a unique full home renovation project on a prime property in Notting Hill for a family who was keen to infuse the interiors of their new home with design influences from their Indian heritage. From the moment I discussed the design brief with the clients, I instantly knew I’d want to enlist the expertise of Aiveen Daly, a multidisciplinary artist, upholsterer and designer whose work I’ve admired for a long time. Aiveen works with top interior designers and architects worldwide to provide specialist finishes and embellished surfaces using textile artistry. Some of her stunning techniques include lace embroidery, sculptural leatherwork, couture-grade hand beading and fabric weaving. I was keen to incorporate Aiveen’s luxurious embellishment techniques to adorn the home while giving a nod to the client’s Indian heritage.
A Childhood Passion
As a child, Aiveen loved embroidery, knitting and sewing. After a few years working in marketing, she decided to retrain and pursue her passion with textiles, drawing and upholstery classes. “I set up the studio about 14 years ago and haven’t looked back,” she says. Many of the luxurious embellishment techniques Aiveen incorporates are influenced by traditional methods, but Aiveen enjoys breaking the mould. “I love to mix old and new,” she says. “We take a lot of very traditional techniques, for example, goldwork or silk embroidery, and interpret them for a modern clientele.” This mix of old and new involves the use of cutting-edge technology such as laser cutting and 3D printing to create fresh, new interpretations. “The beauty is in the alchemy of mixing different techniques in an unexpected, contemporary way.”
Ensuring that the materials used are ethically sourced is of great importance. “For our customers, environmental and social sustainability is becoming non-negotiable. We recently signed the Walpole Sustainability Manifesto which is a 12-point plan covering all aspects of our business from packaging to how we treat our staff and assess our suppliers. It is a learning curve for me but we are lucky to be small and actually have a very close relationship with our suppliers. Most are small family businesses who we have an intimate relationship with.”
Her team collaborates with many different small studios, from metal workers who make adornments for shoes and bags to specialist leather and feather suppliers for the couture industry. Many are local but others have been sourced all over the world from Lebanon, Spain, Italy, Germany and USA.
As for sustainability, it’s “hugely important” Aiveen says, due to a large amount of manufactured furniture which goes into landfill every year. “Creating something bespoke is much less wasteful. We only need to bring in the minimum materials for that particular piece. We always consider the lifecycle of a product at the design stage.”
There’s a whole movement happening too, branded ‘Lux-Cycling’, where clients present Aiveen with existing furniture to be embellished and reinvigorated. “This could be antique or even furniture that was bought a few years ago that is lovely quality but needs a new look. We have an extensive design palette of details that clients can choose from, from embroidery to leatherwork and pleating.” Her team also works with deadstock materials, to find new, clever ways of using up every scrap of fabric.
Lifestyle Design Service
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