Hooked on leather

Leather has a new look. Features editor Karien Slabbert discovers the more refined textures, tones and finishes of the hand-hewn trend

Hooked on leather
Source: fourtisima.com

I’ve always loved the appearance and feel of leather. Not the traditional oversized-game-lodge-sofa vibe (usually accompanied with a rather dismal-looking stuffed kudu hovering overhead), but rather a more sophisticated interpretation. A masculine gentleman’s club setting with a vintage deep-buttoned Chesterfield sofa has always appealed to me.

Leather couch
The refined gentleman’s club (women welcome). Source: icono-interiorismo.blogspot.com.es

I also love the softer aspect of hand-worked, time-worn leather pieces. It creates such a lived in, welcoming feel.

Leather side table
A leather side table with stud detail from Weylandts. Source: weylandts.co.za

Leather appeals to all my senses. A mix of leather, metal and wood reminds me of a scene from Karen Blixen’s epic novel Out of Africa. I imagine an untamed yet stylish setting filled with earthy hues and textures.

Which is why I’m excited about the new leather trend that’s become big news in international decor and design. Leathercraft –the ability to mould and use leather – is tactile, visually rich and has various cultural references. In a way, it harks back to the past, but is still very relevant.

A fresh approach

I love the designs by Italian-born, Netherlands-based design duo Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, who head up Studio Formafantasma. I’m particularly intrigued by their colab with international fashion house Fendi, where they explored and redefined the visual and tactile nature of leather.

Their inspiration

Leather inspiration
Nature-inspired colours, shapes and texture all moulded into one. Source: fourtisima.com

Highlights of the collection

An ensemble of glass pendants is hung via belts and hooks that turn the utilitarian into a focal point.


A table and room divider produced from vegetal tanned rawhide stretched over brass structures with marble weights.

Leather table
Source: fourtisima.com

Visit formafantasma.com to see more of their recent work.

Creative narrative

Trimarchi and Farresin’s approach to their subject matter gives a good understanding of what the current leather trend is all about: “The design is driven by the symbolic connotations of leather; a material that, more than any other, represents the complex relationship between humans and nature. Leather as a material has the ability to evoke almost ancestral memories…”

I look forward to seeing how local designers articulate this.