When shopping for furniture, most people’s first port of call is one of the usual big brands, or whichever of them recently put out a new tantalizing ad campaign. But if you live in or near Bristol and are looking for bespoke, high-quality and contemporary chairs, footstools and cushions – even for existing ones to be reupholstered – I’d encourage you to shop locally, and more specifically with a store that is extremely passionate about the furniture that they produce.
Harriet Page is the brains and hands behind The Hair in the Chair. She moved to Bristol in 2010 and, after taking evening classes, accidentally discovered a passion for upholstery. Her initial quest was to meet new people; now she runs her own small business.
The Hare in the Chair offers bespoke, traditional and modern upholstery services, with a focus on restoring and creating its client’s heirlooms for their future. Page uses mostly natural materials and “craft skills that have been developed over centuries”, with aims of both keeping furniture “out of landfill”, as well as providing a means for homeowners to “take ownership” of their interiors by commissioning furniture that fits their individual styles and needs.
Page, who currently works as a school teacher as well as running the business part time, was trained at Wendy Shorter Interiors in St Albans and received her Diploma with Distinction from Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers (AMUSF). In 2016 she won the AMUSF/Heico Miniature Chair Competition at the January Furniture Show, and at the beginning of this year launched the Hare in the Chair store on Etsy, which sells her furniture pieces that include made to order chairs, footstools and cushions.
She is also part of the Bristol Upholstery Collective, a group of highly qualified and experienced upholsterers that not only create but also teach classes and hold workshops. Located in the Old Market region, it also functions as the workshop space for Page and her colleagues.
The emphasis on quality and uniqueness is clear. “We live in a fast paced world where we can go and buy a chair today. However we are proud to create chairs at a slower pace that will ultimately last a longer time and are finished to our exacting standards,” says Page. “You too, can be a part of this process, choosing fabrics, considering styles and even coming to see the work in action if you wish. Why should our homes all look the same?”
There’s always something special about buying locally and supporting independent businesses because of the closer connection between producer and customer, and also the knowledge that a significant investment has been made in one’s immediate surroundings. What gives the transaction even more meaning is knowing that the person behind your purchased goods put their heart and a lot of thought into what they created for you.
“I’m really happy to have found a job that I am pleased to get up in the morning to do, one that means I can be flexible with my hours,” Page wrote in an Instagram post, “and I hope that the work I do will make others happy and maybe be in their homes for many years to come.”
DAY 4 #marchmeetthemaker 'Tools'. The two photos show just a few of the the tools used in upholstery. On the Tresle are tools used for 'Ripping down' or taking off unwanted upholstery including my favorite tool – my Dad's old Magnetic hammer (more of that tomorrow…) The industrial sewing machine is an essential for creating the new upholstery- in this case oodles of piping! #RippingChisel #mallet #magnetichammer #scissors #toolsofthetrade #industrialsewingmachine #highlead #tools #tacks #sewing #upholsterytools #bristolupholsterycollective
#meetthemakerweek /Day 2:You Phew, just about made Day Two of the challenge… What a busy day it has been. I'm just home after a day of teaching (secondary school by day, upholstery evening class by night!) Looking forward to time in the workshop tomorrow… This is me marking out a rather complex pattern match! #upholsteryclass #teacherlife #doitfortheprocess #bristolupholsterycollective #workingmum
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