Ever wondered what happens to all those unwanted scraps of leather left over from the glamorous world of upholstering? No? Well we’d never thought about it either, until we saw Pepe Heykoop’s furniture collection, Skin. Using abandoned mass-produced furniture as a base, Dutch designer Pepe covers the pieces with scraps of leather in a raw, flesh-like fashion where all the seams and ‘ugly bits’ are put on show. Here Pepe talks about his inspiration for the collection and how his furniture has a life of its own.
So where did the inspiration come from for your Skin collection?
I was amazed by the huge amount of scrap pieces coming out of the leather furniture industry, about 25-30 per cent. So finding lots of these small pieces was my starting point.
Where do you source your materials? Are there any ‘leftovers’ you wouldn’t use?
I can use lets say 95% of the leftovers. Then after skinning a chair I have 10% waste after cutting the piece. It’s only the smallest scraps among them I can’t use.
Do you think people are too wasteful these days, despite efforts to encourage recycling etc?
It’s often something they need to have learned early on or something they know already. But I think that creativity can really add a lot the term 'recycling'.
What do you want people to feel when they view your work?
I love it when they are amazed by the simple idea and outcome. The beauty of the handmade is quite important too.
In much of your work, including the pieces in Skin, you’ve made it obvious where you fused/joined materials together, is it a conscious decision to show the viewer how things are put together? If so, why?
I like to see what is happening behind the scenes. The inside is as important as the outside. I think that notion is worth showing.
You’ve used many materials throughout your furniture collections, do you like to experiment?
Creativity means to be open to new ways of looking. Being open-minded. Experimenting is inherent to this. I love it!
Do you think there’s a playfulness to your work?
Yes, at least for me there is and many people say so. It keeps me from being bored.
Often there’s an underlying message or intention to your pieces, for instance highlighting the waste created from leftover leather or collaborating with the Tiny Miracle Foundation to create your Leather Lampshades. Do you want your furniture to be more than just ‘furniture’?
Yes, to me my creations are more than just furniture. They become nearly characters with their own stories.
You often rescue forgotten or abandoned furniture; do you like your pieces to have a story behind them, a background?
Yes I do. Often I don't get why people leave furniture on the side of the street when it’s only partly broken or damaged. I collect them at my workshop and often use them as a basis for my work.
Any new collections you're working on now?
At the moment I'm expanding the skin collection because the reaction is overwhelming!
To see more of Pepe's work visit his website.