To most of us, the word “bespoke” will bring up the image of a tailor carefully measuring, and stitching a suit from the very best cloth. Certainly the word bespoke really originates from London’s Saville Row where tailors would typically make reference to garments as being spoken for by their clientele. Yet the expression bespoke is also closely linked with an additional English industry involving high-quality materials and exceptional technical expertise – that of the Upholsterer.
On the outside, it might not appear like there is a great deal in common among the two occupations. Fashion and household furniture are after all too really distinct industries, and it really is clear that sofas and suits are two totally distinct goods to purchase for any typical shopper. Even so, if we make a historical contrast in between the two, we find a significantly closer resemblance than what you know already.
Both bespoke upholstery and bespoke tailoring trace their origins back to the Renaissance time of European history. Previously clothing and furnishings had been regarded purely in functional terms, as a means of clothing and seating the human form. Nevertheless, as metropolitan societies became more affluent during the Renaissance, a new desire arose for designer items which functioned to decorate and highlight both the human form as well as the home environment. The twin arts of tailoring and upholstery were born.
Starting with the Italian city states, followed by the French royal courts, the art of bespoke tailoring emerged little by little with technical knowledge passed from one generation to another before steadily developing a series of more formal frameworks. Throughout the 17th century, Paris developed into the centre for fashion and decorating as over the top Parisian dress and home dcor grew in popularity across the continent. As tailors cut and sewed ever more elaborate costumes, upholsterers crafted magnificent furnishings gilded with sweeping lines and lavish detailing. Each profession developed under the inspiration from the other.
However it wasn’t until the 18th century that English styles came to dominate the scene as restraint, and understated elegance became the new cosmetic informing attire and home furniture. Subtly blending gentile, sporting and bourgeois clothing, English tailors established a brand new type of fashion emphasising fit and subtle detailing over showy displays of wealth. In a similar style, English upholsterers developed new methods to advance elegance and technical expertise as the central rules guiding bespoke sofa manufacture – moving away from the elaborate, decadent style espoused by the French upholstery at the time.
To this day, English bespoke tailoring and sofa upholstery stay at the forefront of worldwide style and interior design and style. From Saville Row to Chelsea Harbour, contemporary cosmopolitan London continues to be the shop window for bespoke craftsmanship of the finest quality and artistic flair. Behind each handcrafted object lies the accumulated knowledge, knowledge and technical specialism of a rich and illustrious design heritage. Moreover, there is also the creativity and eccentricity of England’s contemporary day tailors and upholsterers, who continue to push the limits of the achievable in their quest for excellence in their field.
Would you be keen to learn more about European Upholstery? Visit The Sofa Chair Company one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of luxury upholstery furniture.