One of core design skills is combining traditional craftsmanship with a modern look. Students of the Product Design Studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague chose to collaborate with the workshop led by Ondřej Šíma.
His Prague workshop was established in 1994 and specialises in leather products made by hand sewing. Particularly bags, handbags and other small items. The Academy students however make bigger objects that overlap with the conceptual side of contemporary design.
In my work, the clothes valet turns into a pedestal for displaying unique items. These can be fashion accessories such as jewellery, watches, scarves, hats and gloves, or things that have a special meaning for their owner and reflect their personality. That’s why the objects are placed in an imaginary frame.
Around the frame, there is a handmade stitch as an analogy to fashion accessories that are often custom-made and hand-sewn with proper and honest craftsmanship. As the name indicates, a clothes valet is there to serve: its shape should not distract from the objects on display, which is why its look is simple and functional. The leather that covers the metal construction is soft to the touch and protects the objects from scratches. The natural colour of the leather was chosen deliberately to not clash with the displayed objects and to resemble the natural environment of fashion accessories: human skin.
Second Skin — a chaise longue on a delicate metal construction with a surface of bonded leather, inspired by the modifications of our skin and its ability to remember.
There are 214 tanneries in Bangladesh, of which 200 are located in the city of Dhaka. According to some estimates, India is home to more than 2,000 tanneries that produce more than 2 billion square feet of leather every year, making the country one of the greatest exporters of leather. Mekonnen and Hoekstra (2010) claim that an adult cow weighing 250 kg can produce 6 kg of cowhide; the tanning of this cowhide requires 17,000 litres of water per 1 kg. This water contains dissolved lime, hydrogen sulphide, acids, chromium dyes, oils, organic compounds and suspended solids. The wastewater is discharged into open drains and eventually makes its way to the surface and surrounding waters. The discharge of this wastewater is very dangerous to the environment in the immediate vicinity of the tannery and beyond. Solid waste from tanneries is also harmful to soil and plants and damages the air, groundwater and human health. The benefits of capitalism, availability of cheap goods and other human socioeconomic activities take their toll in the form of the plundering of our natural resources, resulting in the present state of our planet.
Inspired by more than 8 thousand years of history of the processing of Fomes fomentarius, I’m giving our nation an opportunity to remember a forgotten craft. Fomes fomentarius and its mycelium gives us an environmentally friendly path for the future. I have developed a biological method of its cultivation, automated production and many possible uses. My work aims to glorify the material.
My goal is to transform leather into a decorative object inspired by early cameras and folklore. The object is freely located in a space; a community will form around it during a private tasting.
“My concept is stability and sustainability demonstrated through basic static models such as a lever or a cantilever. I try to express these models using archetypal shapes and materials that emphasise their generally understood tectonics, e.g. stone x heaviness, glass x fragility, metal x solidity. Leather plays the crucial role of a fastener, binding, wrapping and protecting materials layered on top of each other without anchoring elements. My objective is to use these models to design a series of indoor objects that can serve as a cocktail table or tabouret; they will complement each other while also functioning separately. This project’s ambition is not to create an interior accessory for mass production, but to design personal objects that require their own space.”