For James Russell and Hannah Plumb, the husband-and-wife team behind the subversive London design studio, James Plumb, inspiration comes in unexpected forms. Most recently, it took the shape of a destroyed, 19th-century leather Chesterfield sofa, whose beautiful patina and history gave way to a limited-edition collection and exhibition entitled, Burnished Indigo. Featuring a series of delicate lighting captured in today’s bespoke story by photographer and recent LCC graduate Benjamin Haywood, the new pieces will be unveiled this week as part of London Design Festival. Made with antique, hand-woven indigo textiles, the somber-hued fabric has been produced in China since the 12th century and is realized through a traditional process of dipping the cloth into indigo, followed by a catalyzing mix of egg white, ox or pig’s blood, and fermented fruit juices. “But what’s most interesting about the whole process perhaps is the burnishing,” says Russell. “The fabric is repeatedly bashed with a blunt object, and the repetition is what determines the level of sheen the textile has.” The lighting fixtures in Russell and Plum’s collection specifically used fabric repurposed from hand-pleated, burnished indigo skirts that were made in the 1950’s and 60’s. “Because each skirt is handmade, there is nothing symmetrical about them, so each one throws up its own little peculiarity and behaves differently,” says Russell. “It was about responding sensitively to how they were originally made and working in that same language, giving each lamp a unique identity.”
Burnished Indigo is exhibited at London Design Festival through to September 21.