Previewed at NeoCon 2016, leather is Maharam’s latest product initiative. A natural extension of Maharam’s current offering, leather expands the creative reach of the Maharam Design Studio with its launch of eight initial styles in one hundred unique colors this November. Exclusively sourced in Italy with the exception of a Spanish suede, Maharam’s collection forgoes the excessive finishing that characterizes much of the leather available today. Instead, guided by Maharam’s material expertise, the collection celebrates the inherent beauty of leather returned to a more natural state.
Leather quality depends almost entirely on the condition of the original hide before any tanning, dyeing, or finishing begins. For that reason, Maharam’s approach centers on superior raw materials. Turning to Western Europe as the unrivaled source of upholstery leather thanks to its excellent veterinarian practices, the stable and mild climates of the region, the absence of branding, and the manner in which the animals are allowed to graze in open fields without barbed-wire fencing, Maharam developed relationships with a handful of boutique tanneries in Northern Italy and Spain, chosen for their expert ability to produce the best of each desired quality.
Leathers were selected based on their hand, grain, or visual impact. Focused on inherent variation, Maharam’s offering deliberately highlights the unique natural features that distinguish leather from manmade, synthetic products. Undergoing as little finishing as possible, all styles display natural markings to varying degrees, including traces of backbones, pores, insect bites, wrinkles, scars, and scratches. Rather than minimize these features, the Maharam Design Studio chose to bring them forward as intrinsic signifiers of the leathers’ natural state and superior raw quality. This focus may be most evident in Draft, a highly responsive surface meant to patina, and Tuft, a haired hide possessing a dramatic surface full of movement and variation that eschews any treatment beyond a subtle tint to restore the hide’s original color.
Combinations of chromium and vegetable tanning, along with transparent dyes or opaque pigments, were carefully calibrated to preserve the natural irregularities of each style. This can be seen in the minimal, lightly polished surface of Maharam’s loftiest leather, Stark, while Bask, another substantial leather, is gently tumbled to give prominence to its natural grain.
Color palettes of remarkable depth and specificity were developed solely by the Maharam Design Studio, whose color direction prioritizes an independent response to the material qualities of the product at hand. Loam, a matte nubuck texture, called for dusky shades of terracotta, pine, and slate while Hue, a remarkably smooth quality, received even glazes of luminous neutrals and fluorescents. The palette of Tinge, a distinctively napped suede, highlights its deep absorption of color through saturated shades of ultramarine, viridian, and violet, while Steep reflects extended immersions in transparent dye, with light and dark chromatic concentrations emerging in concert with creased, pebbled, and smooth expanses.