Textile designer and re-upholsterer Eleanor Young's modern take on furniture

  • The List
  • 17 February 2011
Eleanor Young - Divan inspiration

Glasgow designer enjoys giving unloved, boring items a new look

How did you get started?
I graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2007 having studied textile design. I’ve always had the intention to produce my own designs, however I didn’t have the confidence or practical knowledge to jump straight in. It was only after various work placements that I had the skills to turn my ideas into a business [Fun Makes Good] and I began in 2009.

Where do you find the furniture you work on?
A lot of the pieces have been found on the street before the weekly bulk uplift. Huge numbers of unwanted chairs get left out, when all that’s really needed is a clean-up and a bit of imagination. It’s great when you find something really unusual to work on. It’s got to the point now where friends tell me where they have seen something that I should go and pick up.

Most of the pieces given to me to re-upholster are hand-me-downs from relatives which have been kept in the family for years. What I find interesting is removing all the layers of existing upholstery – they hint to the styles of the periods before. We discovered the original fabric for a chair, three layers down, had the same colour scheme as the new design I had created. Purely a coincidence, but quite fitting.

Is there a job you’d love to be commissioned to do?
I’d love to fit out a whole room for a boutique hotel or lounge. I’d really like to work with someone who wasn’t afraid to use colour, pattern and scale across all of their furniture.

Where do you draw your influences from in your textiles?
A lot of abstract architectural shapes feature in my work. There are so many influential architects and iconic buildings in the world, even in Glasgow – you cant help but be inspired. Recently I’ve been playing with origami and bringing bird motifs into my patchwork. I like to play around with shapes and colour and fit pieces together like a jigsaw.

Describe a typical day…
Generally I start with a cup of tea! I check emails and update the Fun Makes Good Facebook page. If I have a new commission I begin sketching ideas and consider colour combinations. I source fabrics, before doing a scale mock-up on the computer. I try to use as much locally–produced fabric as possible, such as Bute wool, Harris tweed and local leathers. It’s important to use and promote these resources. The afternoon can be anything from making my smaller products [Fun Makes Good also makes jewellery and accessories] or going out on a chair hunt! Every day is different and quite often unpredictable, which is why I love doing what I do.


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