ABOUT BILL AMBERG STUDIO
At the Bill Amberg Studio, we have been exploring the material and aesthetic possibilities of leather for over 30 years. We are a pioneering, ever-curious and unconventional group of designers and craftspeople, driven by the desire to push the boundaries of leather-working in new directions, and to create objects and interiors with style and longevity.
Our work runs the gamut from bags and accessories to commercial interiors and residential applications. The Bill Amberg Studio is a global authority on architectural leatherwork, offering a full cycle of services relating to the integration of leather into interior spaces. Over the years we have not only developed a profound understanding of our material and its versatility, but also accumulated a wealth of expertise in using leather in unexpected contexts (we were, for example, one of the first interiors studios to master leather as a flooring material).
Although we are happy to employ cutting-edge technology whenever a project demands it, our practice remains rooted in the traditional craft techniques that have underpinned the leatherworker’s trade for thousands of years. Our team of artisans draws from the age-old disciplines of casemaking, saddlery and bookbinding – often using tools and methods that have remained unchanged for centuries – in order to deliver beautiful contemporary leatherwork that lasts.
You could say that Bill Amberg was born into leather. Raised in Northampton – the centre of the British shoemaking industry – he was surrounded by the material throughout his childhood. His mother, an architect with a love of crafting, would pick up cobblers’ offcuts and scraps for him to practise on, so he became accustomed to handling knives, awls and needles from a young age.
When he left school, Bill travelled to Australia to visit his cousin Penny Amberg, a lecturer in leather design at Canberra School of Art. Through her, he met leatherworker Gay Wilson, who became his mentor. As an apprentice in her studio in Adelaide, Bill turned his hand to making jockey’s shoes, wallets and belts. His respect for the material – his understanding of its properties and possibilities – deepened in tandem with his skills.
Returning to London in 1985, Bill set up a leather studio – first in Rotherhithe, later moving to Shoreditch – where he created leather bags, accessories and sculpture. His reputation as a designer and craftsman soon spread to the likes of Liberty, who asked him to create a line of bags in English saddle leather, and Paul Smith, who invited him to create a line of Amberg-branded bags to be sold in his stores.
Consumer goods were only the beginning. A commission to create a bespoke leather floor for an architectural practice brought the Bill Amberg Studio formally into being. In the years that followed, Bill’s work in architecture and interiors grew in parallel with his bag design, eventually becoming the bulk of his business.
In the last 30 years, Bill Amberg has worked with a varied roster of clients across the twin strands of his practice (to put it crudely: ‘bags and buildings’). Bags and accessories bearing the Bill Amberg stamp are available from stockists worldwide and, alongside his own line, Bill has designed bags for labels including Donna Karan, Romeo Gigli, Dunhill and others. In 2001, the V&A admitted the Amberg ‘Rocket’ bag into its archive of design classics.
At the same time, Bill has brought leather into the interiors of iconic buildings such as Claridge’s, Selfridges, the Shard and the Savoy, as well as consulting with renowned architects and interiors outfitters on its incorporation into prestige properties both commercial and residential. Today, he and his studio collaborate with companies and private clients on leather-based interiors commissions for homes and hotels, stores and super yachts, restaurants, members’ clubs and public spaces all over the world.
Although the studio has grown to be much more than the man who founded it, Bill Amberg remains at the heart and helm of the company.
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