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Horsehair & Heritage - A Modern Take

The Property Addict / Architecture & Design

Nov 17 2015

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Written by Blainey North Blainey-North-Logo I was working in London recently during the city's annual design festival and it struck me how well that particular metropolis mixes its rich history and heritage with a strong contemporary design scene. The two bounce off one another to create a dynamism where one enhances, rather than compromises, the other. I admire that philosophy " a respect for the old while embracing the new. It is something I strive for in my own work as I research projects " unpeeling layers of the past in order to shape a new creative path for a particular interior. When it comes to designing lighting and furniture I undergo the same process delighting in finding a heritage material I can use in an interesting and relevant way. And that bring me to horsehair: I love its backstory with its utilitarian roots in fishing lines and the base of sieves in Sweden, its association with music, providing the strings for violins (the tails of horses reared in cold climates are best) and even providing the stiffening component for crinolines. It has had a rich and varied history. horsehairfabric Horsehair fabric screen by Ochre www.johnboydtextiles.co.uk, www.ochre.net   When it comes to keeping the skill of horsehair fabric manufacture alive, John Boyd Textiles, founded in 1837 in Castel Cary in the UK, and represented in Australia by South Pacific Fabrics, maintains a contemporary edge. They partner with key architectural firms and designers globally to produce bespoke weaves for panelling in restaurants and private homes, furniture fabrics and custom pieces for one-off projects. Marateatable Maratea table light from the Blainey North Collection   For me the horsehair is most beautiful when used in lighting because it allows me to play with levels of density and hence the levels of light that are emitted. This can be a sensuous glow, where the character of the horsehair itself is the hero of the piece, such as in this powder room wall sconce in a recent project of mine. customdesignedCustom designed sconce light designed by Blainey North   There is also something robust and honest about horsehair that means it can be partnered with masculine concepts that speak to strength and a more muscular design statement such as a pendant light with a central chain treatment I designed as part of my furniture and lighting collection. horsehairpendant Horsehair Pendant by Apparatus   Of course once aware of a material you see it everywhere such as these bags by Swiss company Akris - the Ai Tote (Angelina Jolie has one, bought once her stylist confirm that no animal was hurt in its manufacture) and of course when I looked into it I discovered the fabric also came from none other than John Boyd Textiles. aimediumhorse Ai Medium Horse Hair Shoulder Bag by Akris

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