Genevieve Bennett launched her first sculpted leather panels in 2008. Three years on, she is making a real name for herself as a designer of exquisite embossed, engraved, inlaid and sculpted leather, which her clients use as wall pieces, flooring, upholstery and furniture.
Bennett is inspired by 15th-century Spanish leathers (known as “cordwain”), the textile designs of the Wiener Werkstatte and “any kind of armour”, and her standard collection is so gloriously decorative that many clients simply ask her to customise existing designs. However, if someone approaches her with something new, she is more than happy to oblige.
“There are huge possibilities for decorative leather,” she says. “This year, for example, I created a wall panel for Silverstone to celebrate the Formula One season. The brief was to take inspiration from both F1 motorsport and the heritage of the Northamptonshire area as a historic centre for leatherworking, so I took the shape of the Silverstone track and created a striking overlaid graphic that was engraved into the surface of white saddle leather.”
All Bennett’s projects begin with a conversation about patterns, colours and leather type. She then produces a hand-drawn sketch, followed by a three-dimensional paper model. Once the client is happy with the model, it is scanned into a computer, traced to create a digital drawing and the actual leatherwork begins. The making techniques vary depending on the effect required. Sculpted panels, for example, are cut and scored by hand in Bennett’s London studio, while engraved designs are created using a laser machine and the embossed patterns are made into metal plates, which are then pressed into the surface of the leather.
Leather making at this level is a highly skilled process, so commissions take up to 12 weeks to complete and prices range from approximately £200 per square metre for the engraved panels to about £3,000 per sq m for a completely bespoke sculptured piece. The results, however, speak for themselves.
Pictured: deco sculpted leather panel.