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December 10, 2014

Our weekly pop-up chats at the Dessein Concept Store have been attracting all sorts of speakers – designers, manufacturers, suppliers and the like. This Monday, Greg Longhurst of Leather Italia flew in from Sydney to walk us through the finer points of leather tanning and upholstery for various applications.


We snuck in a few minutes with Greg to ask him about his business and get a few tips on leather for upholstery purposes. This is what he had to say:



Dessein: How did you get into the business of leather upholstery?

Greg: My background is in furniture design – sofas actually. I was born into the industry, my father was a furniture maker. He made timber furniture and sofas. But I was more interested in the texture and colours.


I went to the UK and spent 3 years in the design department of an upholstery company. On my return to Australia, I got a job as a designer with a firm (that has since gone out of business). Their upholstery section was struggling and I came in as their head designer and just loved it.


Getting into the leather game… I [eventually] started my own business designing furniture and I really enjoyed the design process – but not necessarily the manufacturing.


My old boss phoned me one day, looking for a leather supplier… I completely back-flipped – to the horror of my family! – and started a new business importing leather.


The 1st December 2014 marks our 16th year in business!



Dessein: Do you have a few tips for designers looking to upholster in leather?

Greg: You need to think about the texture and surface of the leather and its wearability.


Leather Italia is one of the only companies that specialises in European leather that conforms to [strict] environmental standards.


It can be quite a dirty process, tanning leather, and the tanneries (we source our product from) have to return the water to drinking water (as part of their manufacturing process). All the tanners we purchase from tan from a single industrial estate, to ensure the input and output from the production process is controlled.


We find a lot of designers are really interested in the environmental aspect. We ensure the process of tanning isn’t as harsh on the environment. And while you may pay more for the product, it’s much longer lasting.


There’s also a naturally tendency to say, ‘If it’s thicker it lasts longer’, but that’s not the case. It comes down to how well the surface wears. We supply a whole range of products that do different things [and cater for a variety of] aesthetic and functional requirements.


Thanks Greg for the great talk on Monday!



Register your attendance for Dessein’s next pop-up chat:

Monday 15 December:


DESIGNOFFICE, the award winning design studio share their insights on collaborative partnerships and designing temporary spaces. This talk is back by popular demand!

6pm - 7pm
Dessein Concept Store, 
117 Therry Street, Melbourne 
Tickets: FREE 
Register your attendance here

Friday 12 December:


SIMONE LEAMON un-packs key ideas and issues trending in furniture and object design.

6pm - 7pm
Dessein Concept Store,
117 Therry Street, Melbourne 
Tickets: FREE
Register your attendance here