We previously shared the work of Smilow Design, a brand created by Judy Smilow to pay homage to her father Mel Smilow and his mid-century American-made designs that did it has been around since 1949. Part of this catalog of designs is the Woven Leather Collection, a series of minimalist chairs, stools, and benches that were originally designed in 1956 and reintroduced in 2013. The collection combines outstanding craftsmanship and beautiful details that lead to classics from every angle, pieces for a lifetime. For the deconstruction of this month, Smilow Design guides us through the production of the collection.
The Woven Leather Dining Chair was designed in 1956 by Mel Smilow. He can be seen here in one of his showrooms and in some early product photographs.
The Woven Leather Lounge was designed in 1956 by Mel Smilow. Seen here as a sketch and product photo, it is also part of our larger woven leather collection. When we re-introduce a piece or collection, we spend a lot of time working through old drawings, sketches, blueprints, and photographs. We then bring them to Pennsylvania, where our parts are manufactured and upholstered to use our factories to create new drawings and dimensions.
Process / Furniture Construction:
Our Woven Leather Collection is manufactured at two locations in Pennsylvania by manufacturers who have been making furniture by hand for decades. The first stop for this collection is the factory where the frames of these chairs are made.
This collection (and most of our pieces) are made of solid walnut wood (by people like Rich, hi Rich!) And have detailed carpentry, curves and angles.
The solid walnut frames for our Woven Leather Collection can now be woven.
Process / leather weaving:
As soon as the finished frames have arrived at our upholsterer, the patterns for these chairs are put together and the right leather is cut into strips.
When reintroducing this collection, we looked at a lot of different types and thicknesses of leather to find one that offers the perfect amount of compliance when you sit and don’t stretch out over time. We offer this collection in nine different colors.
Each frame is woven and secured by hand, with the straps tucked in for a seamless finish.
The finished products, half a century later.