Handrails are often the overlooked touch points of a building, something that everyone comes into contact with, but few people notice. Leather handrails are different; they never go unnoticed. Highly durable, aesthetically interesting and wonderfully tactile – leather introduces warmth and texture to what are commonly cold, hard surfaces. As a global authority on architectural leatherwork, at Bill Amberg Studio, we have over 30 years experience creating memorable and beautiful handrails in a multitude of styles, for residential, commercial, or public spaces.
Whether it is curved, elliptical or straight, a key factor in the design of the leather handrail is its shape – every design decision can affect the optimal choice of leather for the handrail, as well as the techniques required to install it. These factors include colour (natural tan or a shade that matches the interior palette), the size and shape of the staircase, and stitching (options include box stitch, pinch stitch, racing wheel stitch, tennis wrap, or a more discreet underside stitch, among many others). Leather is a very pliable material, with a wide scope of application options. Over the years, we’ve developed a deep understanding of how it can be most effectively applied to handrails, no matter the style of staircase or interior they are paired with.
We have completed many hundreds of leather handrails around the world. A few examples can be seen below:
Tasked with bringing an authentic materiality to this impressive private residence on London’s Hampstead Heath, Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio called upon Bill Amberg Studio to implement the design, production and installation of a number of leather-based features – including a bespoke leather handrail. The house’s main staircase spans three floors and 51 metres, so creating a seamless handrail to top its glass balustrade was a complex exercise in logistics and ingenuity.
At the workshop, we created a series of 3–4m wrapped handrail sections, upholstered in semi-aniline vegetable-tanned shoulder leather (commonly used in saddlery, thanks to its combination of tactility, durability and the beautifully rich patina it acquires with age). These were then biscuited together on site by the studio’s leatherworkers. The substrate was clad on both sides and hand-stitched to pinch the leather together, before trimming down the excess and polishing the edges.
Working alongside the team at Fosters + Partners, we offered our expertise in creating a series of leather installations for the redesign of the Asprey flagship store on New Bond Street. One of the most significant elements of the project was an atrium area with a self-supporting sweeping helical staircase joining the two floors, where we were asked to create a continuous and completely seamless leather handrail.
We looked at the material palette used throughout the redesign; the display cases were made from a combination of glass, brass and dark wood and the staircase was built with a dark brass, so we selected a dark tan leather for the handrail, with properties that would allow panels to butt up, creating near invisible joints. We created an elegant feature that enhanced the luxurious ambience of the store’s new interiors. Read more about Asprey’s leather handrails.
Artist Studios, Chelsea
Architects Studio Mackereth were appointed to restore and extend this Grade II listed Chelsea townhouse, containing artist studios formerly occupied by renowned British painters James Whistler and John Singer Sargent.
The home’s contemporary staircase features a vertical lattice balustrade made from varying height timber batons. The handrails running the length of the staircase were clad in a tennis-wrap style, using a vegetable-tanned Tuscan shoulder, with natural shrunken grain. Alongside the sculptural balustrade, the leatherwork was used to create a link between the floors of the building.See more of this project here.
For this private residence in London’s Notting Hill, we were tasked with using leather to soften some of the harder materials used within a remarkable modernist townhouse. Working alongside Gumuchdjian Architects; a practice renowned for their harmonising and sensitive approach to contemporary buildings, the client’s choice to integrate vegetable-tanned leather elements into their home brought a tactile quality to the space.
The architect’s sweeping balustrade runs the length of the six-floor building and is constructed from a ribbon of patinated steel, which contrasts with a polished plaster frame. Dark brown leather was moulded over the top of the handrail to overlap the steel and the polished plaster, bringing the two elements together. Read more about Pembridge Crescent.
Looking for some leather handrails for your project? Get in touch.