Elena Leonova on the art of design
PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 November 2016
All right reserved by Matt Blonc, All rights reserved by Matt Blonc www.mattblonc.com
Elena Leonova is a couturier, but she doesn't make dresses, she makes the most fabulous bespoke leather furnishings you can imagine.
Elena trained and worked as an artist and textile designer in Russia, before moving to the UK in 2000 and taking on a role with a premium upholstery business in Cheltenham.
‘We worked on the most high end of furniture,’ Elena tells me, her exotic accent revealing her Moldovan origins. ‘We did work for Madonna, Paramount Pictures…all at the highest level. I was there for many years and learned so much – but it wasn’t creative in the way I wanted to be. When I moved to Manchester I joined a similar business, working with very well known clients, but I knew I needed something more, so I started thinking about how I could get creative within my new skill set.
‘I’ve always loved texture; as humans we love to touch and experience different textures and this has influenced my art and the furniture I make. I decided to specialise in working with leather, one of the most attractive and tactile of materials there is for interior design.’
Elena’s furniture is truly beautiful and each piece, by the very nature of the materials she works with and her unique technique, is made bespoke to the client’s wishes.
Her chairs and wall sculptures are unarguably works of art. Each one is made to order, with the agreed design - from fabulous flowers to Chinese dragons – stitched onto the leather and before Elena uses her own drapery technique to create the extraordinary 3D designs. Every panel takes days to complete and one wrong move means disaster, and starting again.
To date, Elena’s clients have come via art gallery shows, art fairs and – of course – word of mouth. Her usual commission is for a single piece of furniture for luxury homes, a chair or headboard, but some clients want more - she is currently responding to a request to design an entire room, with white leather walls and one-off furniture designs, for a yacht.
‘Anything they want made in leather can be done,’ she tells me. ‘We can create designs to any shape and we supply our own furniture frames. Then I make whatever the client desires, using leather and other materials…whatever is needed.’
Elena’s artistic talent isn’t yet wholly satisfied it seems, as she has also developed a rather unique art form – metal mesh paintings.
‘Oh, this is my baby!’ she exclaims. ‘I was sewing one day and thinking about painting and it just came into my head. It’s a unique form; as soon as I got home I started trying the technique!’
Elena creates wonderful, unusual art using wire mesh as her canvas. After manipulating the mesh to meet her need, she uses acrylic paints, layered up to create not only an image, but to enhance the shadows and highlights and depth of the work as light changes throughout the day.
Again, each piece takes weeks to complete and also tells a story, such as the artwork shown here, Gold Fever, that speaks of the innate strength of ordinary women, making them precious as gold.
leonova.co.uk | 07930 235 311