Our 3 hours a week evening leisure courses on upholstery are perfect for beginners to students who may already have a little experience in a related industry. This week we chat to Anna-Maria Pellegriniand ask for her story.
Tell us a little about your background and why you chose upholstery?
Originally I come from a Printed Textile Design Background and I specialized in Digital Textile Printing, before I started to learn upholstery. I always felt drawn to designing textiles for furniture and kept thinking “How can I create even more unique designs ?”.
Then, during my Master Studies in Sustainable Textile Design in 2016/2017 one day I had the idea: re-upholstering old/unwanted furniture with custom-made designs that perfectly fit the shape and style of the furniture. Immediately it was clear to me that in order to do that, I needed (and wanted) to learn upholstery. That’s when I started to look for upholstery classes in East London and I found Shoreditch Design Rooms.
What SDR Course are you on and how are you finding it?
Since February 2017 I am attending the 18 week Evening Leisure Class once a week which lasts 3 hours every evening. I enjoy the small groups and the variety of people and the variety of furniture that everyone brings to the Leisure Class. Also I feel the Leisure Class is kind of therapeutic, as you stop thinking about work and you focus your mind on something completely different. Even though the class can be hard work at times as well, the small goals you achieve every week, make you leave with a good feeling at the end of the class.
The teacher I had during the Leisure Class was always very patient, helpful and explained every step in detail, so that I could fully understand why we were applying this layer of wadding or had to stitch that particular part together.
I started off with upholstering rather modern pieces of Furniture (e.g. Ercol & Parker Knoll) and I did not think I would ever try traditional upholstery, but after seeing others in the class working on traditional dining chairs and covering them in colorful fabrics, I felt like I had to give it a go as well. So this term I was working on my first traditional upholstery and even though it took me a long time and hard work to get there, I think it is the best chair I have done so far.
What elements of upholstery do you enjoy the most?
What I enjoy the most is the fact, that you can transform something that looked rubbish and was once abandoned by their previous owner, into something beautiful and clean but with a lot of history.
I also enjoy the work with different materials – not just textiles – and that you get to work on the wooden parts of the furniture as well. One of my chairs was painted in a very ‚messy‘ manner, so I sanded the whole chair and applied new varnish, which immensely improved its aesthetic.
The most exciting part for me, is the time when I have to think about the fabric I want to put on the chair. Usually I start painting my artwork beforehand and once I see how the shape of the chair evolves, I get an idea of how to arrange my motifs. So I see each part of the Chair – seat, inside back, outside back – as a Canvas that I want to fill with artwork. As I can take exact measurements of the upholstery my compositions will fit the shape of the chair perfectly.
Do you do any upholstery outside of the course?
Usually I do any woodwork like sanding and varnishing the chair, outside of the course, but anything upholstery related I do in my evening Leisure Class, as I only have the basic upholstery tools at home. Also my room at home is filled with three upholstered chairs and one stool now, so space is getting a little tight now! Outside of the course I mainly focus on the Textile Design aspect as creating, editing and composing the artwork takes a lot of time as well.
What are your longer term plans for your designing and upholstering?
I definitely see myself continuing the 18 week Leisure Class, as of right now it is the best way for me to combine it with my job life as well. The Leisure Class gives me the freedom of upholstering any kind of chair that I want and it goes hand in hand with the freedom I have with creating my artwork.
In the next months I want to work on other styles of furniture from different eras, so that I can expand my portfolio and my upholstery and design skills too. I believe that once I feel familiar with a variety of upholstered furniture and have an idea of the different steps and materials that are involved, I would want to work together with an upholsterer, so that I can focus more on the Textile Design Process.
One major achievement for me in the future would be to sell one of my chairs, which I find very difficult as I feel a very personal attachment to my pieces. However, I know that I have to let them go, as only that would bring me further. Find me on Instagram @a.m.p.ellegrini or email
firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with me.