For the most progressive creatives, the deafening call to reduce, reuse and recycle is less a limitation and more a catalyst for innovation. When Benjamin Hubert, founder of Layer design agency, found his interest piqued by the potential of recycled parachute material, already utilised by responsible fashion brand Raeburn, he sensed a synergy. ‘We’d been following Christopher Raeburn’s work for a while,’ says Hubert, who describes the pair as ‘in tune’ with the challenge of sustainable design.
As forerunners of ecological practices in fashion, Raeburn has thus far pioneered this ‘undervalued’ resource, reworking it into utilitarian streetwear and accessories (alongside other surplus materials) for a decade. Raiding the archives at its Hackney studio in London, therefore, felt like a natural next step. The result of this meeting of minds is the ‘Canopy Collection’: four rocking chairs and two screens that showcase the material stretched, slashed and restructured against welded steel frames by British manufacturer Allermuir. ‘It was a case of reconceptualising a material they’d already reconceptualised and taking it a step further,’ says Hubert.
One chair (and its sibling in screen form) is a recognisable flurry of fluoro and khaki (top), while another is a surprisingly ethereal arrangement of interwoven, layered strips, which trail from the headrest in a seeming tribute to the parachute (above). Lean in a little closer and you’ll spot a label or seam referencing that former life– much like on Raeburn’s military-esque garments, the duo were keen to showcase the ‘raw and robust’ heritage of the fabric.
‘The material is the decoration’, Hubert confirms. While its inherent tactility and translucency were part of the appeal – ‘it has such a nice feel to it’ – there was a weightier intention, too. ‘I thought it was a really interesting and timely thing to use, both in terms of the push to reuse materials and as a comment on the militarisation of the world around us.’ layerdesign.com; raeburndesign.co.uk
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration February 2020
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