‘The Makers Who Make Us’ – Soane’s 25 years of British craftsmanship

To mark their 25th anniversary Soane has launched the Egyptomania collection of fabrics, furniture and lighting. The collection is inspired by thousands of years of Egyptian history and includes a collaboration with artist Yasmin Hayat.

Bed hangings and bolster cushion: Rumi – Vine by Yasmin Hayat for Soane Britain
Image: Bed hangings and bolster cushion: Rumi – Vine by Yasmin Hayat for Soane Britain

Established in 1997, Soane is celebrating 25 years of British craftsmanship. The company champions excellence and supports some of the finest craftsmen and makers working in the UK today.

Soane - Curtains: Papyrus Stripe – Porphyry; Dining chairs: The Dryad® Rattan Apis Dining Chair shown in Natural Rattan with cushions upholstered in Rumi – Gold by Yasmin Hayat for Soane Britain
Image: Curtains: Papyrus Stripe – Porphyry. Dining chairs: The Dryad® Rattan Apis Dining Chair. The delicate, irregular texture of this fabric recalls the nature of ancient papyrus, which was painstakingly made from soaked, pressed and burnished strips of the papyrus plant. The pale hues of the broad stripes suggest colours faded over the centuries. The colour ‘porphyry’ derives from the pinkish-red stone mined in the Egyptian desert and widely used in ancient sculpture. The Dryad® Rattan Apis Dining Chair shown here in Natural Rattan with cushions upholstered in Rumi – Gold by Yasmin Hayat for Soane Britain. Based on an original by the renowned English rattan workshop Dryad, this elegant dining chair, named for the Egyptian bull god Apis, is available in Soane’s standard rattan finishes.

In 2003 Lulu Lytle, director of Soane, was searching for a UK based weaver of rattan and discovered Angraves, a family business making rattan furniture since 1912. Soane collaborated with Angraves for eight years, but unfortunately, in 2010 Angraves went into administration. Soane borrowed the money to buy the machinery and raw materials and revive the workshop. It now creates a range of its own rattan designs, adaptations of antiques and bespoke pieces for special orders.

 

Design pictured: The Rattan Daisy Hanging Light
Image: The Rattan Daisy Hanging Light. Generously proportioned, the scalloped edged Rattan Daisy Hanging Light is an original Soane design. Hand woven by Soane’s Leicestershire rattan weavers, the sculptural shade diffuses light to create a soft atmospheric glow. Production of The Rattan Daisy Hanging Light starts with the making of a frame using thick canes that are steam bent into shape using wooden jigs. Thinner rattan strands are soaked in water baths to make them pliable before ‘randing’ and ‘wrapping’. The craftsmen work skilfully with the flexible plant material to create this three-dimensional piece.

 

Curtains: Leopard Palm – Gold;  Desk: The Dryad® Rattan Leighton Desk; Table lamp: The Argo Flexi Table Light - with Pyramid Shade
Image: Curtains: Leopard Palm – Gold. Desk: The Dryad® Rattan Leighton Desk. Table lamp: The Argo Flexi Table Light – with Pyramid Shade. Cultivated in Egypt for millennia, the iconic form of the date palm, encased within a damask-like lattice, lies at the heart of this vivid design. The immediate inspiration was a gaufrage velvet fabric glimpsed in the ball scene from Visconti’s 1963 film The Leopard. The cotton, viscose and flax mix of the weave gives a rich shimmer to the fabric, which is suitable for upholstery, curtains or paper backed fabric walling. The Dryad® Rattan Leighton Desk, part of the Dryad Leighton collection has the same clean-lined frame as the Leighton Table, but with a top in plain timber rather than woven rattan, allowing it to function for work or study. Based on an antique original by the renowned English workshop Dryad, the table is available in Soanes’s standard rattan finishes. The Argo Flexi Table Light, a practical yet glamorous table lamp is part of the Argo lighting collection and uses twisted brass to emulate the look of rope. Useful and unobtrusive, the lamp is made by skilled Essex engineers, with a brass circular base with switch, reeded rope column and flexible arm with shade. It is offered in a choice of metal finishes and a metal or porcelain shade.

Soane also has taken ownership of a Dorset chair-making workshop creating hand-made chairs by implementing traditional techniques of 18th century master chair makers.

Specialist metal workers engineer, cast and fabricate original lighting designs. An example is the Owl Lantern, which is entirely made by hand in a Sheffield workshop.

Design pictured: The Owl Lantern
Image: The Owl Lantern. The distinctive Owl Lantern is made entirely by hand by skilled Sheffield silversmiths. Brass ‘feathers’ are cut to graduating sizes and welded in layers to the bodice-like frame. The open base creates a pool of light, while teardrop shaped openings cast a wonderful dappled light above.

Expert cabinetmakers in Suffolk, screen printers in Kent: exceptional blacksmiths, upholsterers, weavers and masters in patination – no stone is left unturned to discover and employ craftsmen across the UK. They are, ‘The makers who make us’; skilled creators of impeccable hand-crafted furniture, lighting, fabrics and wallpapers produced in Britain.

Design pictured: The Stag Table
Image: The Stag Table. The Stag Table is one of Soane’s most challenging designs, requiring each leg to be beaten into shape in minutes (a second attempt would weaken the iron’s structure) and to match its three siblings whilst having individual character. Soane’s made to order forged designs are especially suited to customisation, created by Soane’s blacksmith at his foundry on the edges of the Forest of Dean. When complete, the blackened iron finish is lacquered to maintain its quality or an alternative in-house forged metal finish applied.

 

Design pictured: Dianthus Chintz - Original - Ivory Linen
Image: Dianthus Chintz – Original – Ivory Linen. Dianthus Chintz is an exceptionally detailed botanical print inspired by an 18th-century sarong belonging to antique textile collector Karun Thakar. Charmed by its fantastical fronds and frilled dianthus heads, Lulu reworked the antique design and created three colourways that are hand-printed onto linen or silk base cloths. Dianthus Chintz is perfect for upholstery, curtains and walling, whether in grand drawing rooms or romantic bedrooms. It is also available as a wallpaper. All of Soane’s printed fabrics are made in British workshops where highly skilled craftspeople practise traditional printing methods. For the past 13 years Soane has collaborated with a family run mill in Kent to develop their most complex, finely drawn patterns. Their skill is remarkable, using flat-bed silk screen techniques to create modern fabrics that capture the atmosphere and depth of the most beautiful old fabrics.

Soane’s newly launched Egyptomania collection celebrates the ancient dynasties and more recent Egyptian culture, which has fascinated Lulu Lytle for decades. Lulu studied Egypytology and Ancient History at University College London and has an enduring passion for the architecture and design of the region. 

Curtain: Rumi - Gold by Yasmin Hayat for Soane Britain. Side Table: The Dryad® Rattan Leighton Side Table . Headboard: Thebes - Nefertari
Image: Curtain: Rumi – Gold by Yasmin Hayat for Soane Britain. Side Table: The Dryad® Rattan Leighton Side Table. Headboard: Thebes – Nefertari. Designed in collaboration with the geometer and artist Yasmin Hayat, whose deep understanding of Islamic art informs her work, this pattern is inspired by the border pattern found in an original, antique Egyptian tent fabric in Lulu’s collection. Harmonious and symmetrical, the leaf-like motif in ‘Rumi’ is found all over the Islamic world. Digitally printed onto a heavier weight linen this fabric is hard-wearing and suitable for upholstery, curtains and blinds. The Dryad® Rattan Leighton Side Table shown in Natural Rattan is part of the Dryad Leighton collection, this side table combines the form of an antique original by the early 20th-century rattan workshop Dryad with a tiled top. The tile colours have been drawn from a 19th-century Egyptian tent panel in Soane’s collection. A 1920s Egyptian applique wall hanging in Lulu’s collection was the starting point for this richly coloured striped weave, named for the great city on the Nile that flourished in pharaonic Egypt. The Nefertari colourway is named after the ancient Egyptian queen of the 13th century BC, and references the colours found in many tomb paintings of this period.

 

Curtains: Papyrus Stripe – Porphyry; Antique rattan daybed, pictured middle, is upholstered in Soane’s Woven Symi – Sienna
Image: Curtains: Papyrus Stripe – Porphyry. Antique rattan daybed. The delicate, irregular texture of this fabric recalls the nature of ancient papyrus, which was painstakingly made from soaked, pressed and burnished strips of the papyrus plant. The pale hues of the broad stripes suggest colours faded over the centuries. The colour ‘porphyry’ derives from the pinkish-red stone mined in the Egyptian desert and widely used in ancient sculpture. The Antique rattan daybed, pictured middle, is upholstered in Soane’s Woven Symi – Sienna. Symi is based on an antique Greek embroidery in Lulu’s collection. Initially launched as a hand screen printed textile, the original antique has been revisited and faithfully reinterpreted as a weave. Woven using cotton, viscose and flax the design beautifully conveys the age of the original piece and its wonderful lustre.

Soane’s conglomerate of skilled makers produce this new range of beautiful lighting, furniture and fabric designs, along with tiles and jesmonite appearing for the first time in the Egyptomania collection.

 

Curtains: Rumi - Eau de Nil ;  Side table: The Malik Table; Antique rattan daybed is upholstered in: Filigree Flower - Gilt - Stone Linen
Image: Curtains: Rumi – Eau de Nil by Yasmin Hayat for Soane Britain. Side table: The Malik Table. Antique rattan daybed. The Malik Table has a cut-out design inspired by a motif in a 19th century Egyptian tent panel, the eight-sided ‘Malik’ table is steeped in the tradition of Islamic arts – the name means ‘king’ in Arabic. The table is available in Soane’s standard painted finishes and hand finished with a yellow gold line along the intricate cut-out edge. The Antique rattan daybed is upholstered in: Filigree Flower – Gilt – Stone Linen. The Leaves and flowers dance as if in water on this romantic print, recall the mood and imagery of Egyptian tomb paintings. Its immediate inspiration, however, was an 18th-century Ottoman sash embroidered with gilt thread, which gives the fabric its name. The ‘gilt’ colourway is designed to suggest the glimmering hues of the thread.

Soane‘s commitment to the best of British manufacturing has led to a renaissance in the production of hand-crafted furniture, lighting, fabrics and wallpapers made entirely in the UK.  The company is a showcase for some of the finest craftsmen: blacksmiths, cabinet-makers, saddlers, ceramicists, rattan weavers, screen-printers, upholsterers. Soane invests in its workshops and in the future of traditional crafts, and it has created an apprenticeship programme in its rattan workrooms. Every design is made in Britain.

Soane Britain:

+44 (0)20 7730 6400

www.soane.com


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