Sadie Dorchester makes bespoke ottomans and storage solutions, which resolve the never-ending issue of where to hide things, without forgoing style. All designs are made using time-honoured practices and Sadie uses a select library of Linwood fabrics, many sustainable, in her work. We sat down with Sadie to find out more about her studio…
What made you set up the company?
I used to work on a fashion magazine in South Africa but with a young family to look after and plans for more children, we decided to move back to the UK. I took a career break for 5 years and found time – in-between caring for the kids – to embrace old loves such as knitting. I knew it would be hard to go back to publishing as we had settled by the sea in Hastings, so I started to think about a new career. I had no experience of interiors, but as fashion and interiors are so connected – both embrace trends, colour and craftsmanship – I was confident it was the perfect next stage in my career, so I signed up for an upholstery course. After creating pieces for friends and a stint at a local upholsterer I began to formulate a business idea.
What sets your pieces apart?
First and foremost, I listen to my customers. I can create storage solutions for tricky corners or match colours to existing schemes – anything is possible. Every piece is made to measure by a local frame maker to suit a client’s particular needs; there’s no need to compromise, you can get exactly the piece to fit your needs and I offer 150 different styles of feet; it’s one of the most important elements, which can really transform a piece.
Colour is crucial to my designs. I’ve been heavily influenced by modernist art, particularly the use of colour in Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings. Georgia’s work is inspired by nature, but she uses blocks of colour in unusual ways, which I have tried to capture in my work.
Sustainability in your work
The final element that makes my work stand out is sustainability. The issue with cheap, mass-produced furniture is that it’s just too easy to throw it away if your tastes change. If customers have invested in a bespoke piece, there’s a deeper connection – they will have thought about colours, size and use and therefore are less likely to make a mistake and get tired of it. All my frames are made to order by a local carpenter in solid FSC certified pine, which means the wood comes from forests that are being managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people.
I steer away from foam, which is a derivative of petroleum, a non-renewable resource. It can’t be fully recycled and doesn’t properly decompose. After much research I have started to use rubberised hair, which is a natural product made from animal hair, coir, and natural latex. Working with these eco-friendly options takes more time to get the smooth appearance on the final layer of upholstery but it’s worth the extra effort.
Linwood and my love of wool
I was introduced to Linwood through the lecturer on my upholstery course. I wanted to use an eco-fabric for my upholstery and fell in love with Linwood’s Lana collection, which is made from recycled wool and comes in 55 colours. It’s a great fabric to work with – I experimented for months when I started the business, joining the curves of each design together so that the colour blocks run over the furniture and down the sides. I’m a little in love with wool: it’s naturally breathable, stain resisting and naturally fire-retardant too.
I’ve also started using your prints on certain designs, I’m particularly enamoured with printed velvets such as On the River, Marine.
How does the commissioning process work?
If you are interested in commissioning a piece, please visit my site and select, ‘Make it your own’ and fill out your contact details with a brief idea of what you are looking for – I’ll send you an email and we can go from there. I’m happy to offer a 10 per cent discount if people mention Linwood.
Sadie is exhibiting at the Business Design Centre’s New Designers show in London, 6-9th July. Book tickets here.