A fashion designer's primitive twist on '70s glam in a collection of leather chairs.
After graduating from Parsons with a BFA in Fashion Design in 2010, designer Taylor Forrest saw furniture as a sort of experiment. Come November 2013, she will have been experimenting with designing chairs for a solid year, and the upshot of her dedication can be seen in a recently-released first collection of leather sling chairs and lounges inspired by the malleability of the material, a few welding how-to videos and the work of Le Corbusier and Paul Evans. In the midst of this transitory phase, Forrest explained, "I wanted to try and crank something out—see if I could do it—and if it would be practical. I have a wandering mind that is sometimes not so practical, but I'm happy it led me here."
For Forrest, the push and pull between fashion and furniture design has been an ongoing tug of war. There's a love and appreciation for both, and that is evident and essential in her products. Forrest still says, "Because of my particular interest in accessories, I'm still in the mindset that I make handbags that just happen to be chairs." Leather's ability to look like draped fabric really brings this fantasy to life. From a young age, Forrest became enamored with her mother's collection of outlandish objects—many of which were pieces of furniture. These natural and animal-inspired oddities, paired with inspiration drawn from Corbusier's refined work and Paul Evans' "Flintstones-meets-glam-1970s" look, culminated in the first Taylor Forrest collection. Most importantly for Forrest, they all resinated with a simple expression: "I like the idea of hiding nothing. There's no hidden support or construction in this collection. Everything you need to know about how the chair is made is shown."
What really elucidates Forrest's hovering between bags to chairs is her crafting ability with leather—the two industries' common medium. Each piece—the leather and the metal—is entirely designed and handmade by Forrest herself. Though welding may have come second (she "basically became a welder because of the internet") her abilities with leather appear to be completely innate. "Leather is an incredible material. It can be manipulated in so many ways and it has a natural longevity and warmth that has not been able to be synthetically replicated. Vegetable-tanned leather in particular develops a beautiful tone and patina over time," Forrest says. "The natural body and and strength also lends itself to this process. The frames exist to showcase the quality of the leather and I envision each chair lasting a long time. I can't wait to see what they look like when they're old."
Forrest envisions these chairs adding balance to the modern home. "I don't see someone decking their whole place out in sling furniture," she explains. "They could be the focal point of a minimal setting and they could also compliment an eclectic style, where the person's home looks very collected over time." And her love for fashion surfaces: "It's sort of like wearing some Balenciaga boots with a worn, but loved, pair of Levi's, or a simple vintage cotton dress with an Hermès bag." Forrest says that either way, she just wants it to feel comfortable. All the furniture is designed and handmade in Forrest's New York City studio. Shop Forrest's debut collection in House of Honey's storefront on Dering Hall.
Article by Lauren Espeseth. Images courtesy of Taylor Forrest.