Dion Lee repurposes traditional tailoring techniques for leather furniture collection


Australian furniture producer DesignByThem has teamed up with fashion designer Dion Lee to develop a collection comprising a lounge chair and bench made by slashing and weaving leather.

The DL range is the first interdisciplinary collaboration by the Sydney-based company, which was founded in 2007 by Sarah Gibson and Nicholas Karlovasitis.

Dion Lee DesignByThem leather furniture

DesignByThem champions Australian design internationally and has compiled a collection of over 100 products by various industrial and furniture designers, as well as by Gibson and Karlovasitis’s own studio, GibsonKarlo.

The collaboration with Dion Lee aims to unite his experimental approach to clothing design with DesignByThem’s minimal aesthetic.

The brand is presenting the collection as part of its first ever European solo exhibition at Milan design week.

Dion Lee DesignByThem leather furniture

Lee is known for playfully adapting traditional tailoring to produce garments defined by their technical qualities and innovative construction, which he uses to enhance the female form through architectural silhouettes that emphasise movement.

“In a similar way to fashion, furniture takes something functional and purposeful and explores innovation and technique to create something inspiring,” said Lee of his approach to the project.

Dion Lee DesignByThem leather furniture

For the DL Seating Collection – Lee’s first foray into the world of furniture design – the designer chose to work with Italian saddle leather that is stretched over a steel frame.

The pieces are influenced by the slung-leather furniture produced by designers of the Bauhaus school in Germany, which is being commemorated by many events around the world marking its centenary this year.

Dion Lee DesignByThem leather furniture

Lee took processes such as slashing and weaving that are used in his fashion collections and adapted them to form static pieces of furniture that express the same sense of movement as the designer’s clothing.

The leather is woven through the geometric metal frames to create comfortable seats, and is twisted to enhance the shifting aesthetic and visual lightness.

Dion Lee DesignByThem leather furniture

“Our goal was to maintain an openness to the design, whilst keeping it dynamic, robust and comfortable,” Gibson explained. “We always aim to instil a distinct personality in our designs and to create a minimal aesthetic, but never forgoing the product’s original intent.”

The furniture is produced using traditional methods and is available in a range of saddle leather colours, with a powder-coated or polished-chrome frame.

Dion Lee DesignByThem leather furniture

Other designers showing a collection of furniture include Mario Tsai, who has an exhibition of modular lighting and a range of tables with bases made by bending sheets of flexible steel at Spazio Quattrocento n the Zona Tortona district.

The DL Collection is on show until 14 April in the courtyard of Viafarini Gallery, alongside a curated collection of DesignByThem’s chairs, tables and lounge chairs.

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