If you ever thought that upholstery is a dull, somewhat dusty affair, I’ll prove you wrong. I want to introduce you to Sophie Doore, owner of Cover & Couch. This Antwerp-based upholstery studio was founded in 2010 and collaborates with vintage dealers, private clients, interior architects and designers. Sophie is a lady with a mission: it’s her ambition to prick the perception of dusty workspaces, dull fabrics and boring techniques. When she tells about her profession, you learn what a beautiful craft upholstery is really all about.
It's a manual thing
Sophie was born and raised around Brussels, but moved to Antwerp to complete her Photography studies. And she stayed. “I remember I used to craft things a lot in our garage at home as a kid. I was creative in a way that I was always ‘doing something with my hands’ Hence the reason I chose visual art in secondary school, although I couldn’t picture myself as a painter, sculptor or an architect so therefore I chose photography.
‘Pyla’ cushion by Cover & Couch for LECHAPERON (picture ©Douglas Moors for LECHAPERON)
The fascination with images was present, but not to the extent of actually doing something with it. So Sophie never practised her photography skills professionally but her strong affinity for light, color and composition remained. In between her studies and her current profession as furniture upholsterer, there were some professional peregrinations that have taught her the love for textures and textiles (due to a job in a weaving house) and have strengthened her heart for design (while working in an Art bookshop). Working as an upholsterer is still about looking for that ‘perfect picture’, only the context and the materials changed over time. And although Sophie did not see herself as an architect, architecture still plays an important role as inspiration source.
I like working on my own in my atelier. I don’t long for colleagues for instance, but of course it’s nice to have the contacts through visits of clients, collaborations with designers, etc.. The variation of all these things and people together makes it so fascinating and fun to do.
Oyster chair Pierre Paulin (foto ©Ilse Liekens)
I’ve always had a thing with restoration. Even as a student, I loved finding something at a flee market and giving it a second life.
After the birth of her youngest son, Sophie started – rather impulsively – a training upholstery. The ‘working-with-hands-love’ was back again… Just ’restoring furniture or paintings wasn’t what she was looking for, but when she discovered upholstery, the feeling was right and the enthusiasm fully present. Sophie never thought though that this training would lead to her current profession, nor was it her ambition to be an upholsterer in the first place. “During my training, I already received some small orders, and before I knew it, I was totally ‘into’ this beautiful craft.”
Zetel Martin Visser (foto ©Sophie Doore)
It was the time for something new and it was now or never
Graphic pattern cushions
A couple of years ago, Sophie created a cushion with the remaining fabric pieces coming from previous upholstery projects. It was the beginning of her own personal project. In the meantime this cushion collection became the signature of her typical color use, textures, graphic & geometric patterns and composition. All 100% handmade in her atelier with the best quality fabrics. “These type of furniture fabrics differentiate themselves from other fabrics because of their color fastness and durability over time.”
‘Pyla’ cushion, Cover & Couch for LECHAPERON (foto ©Douglas Moors for LECHAPERON)
Each project is a new challenge
To Sophie, upholstery is so much more than ‘providing furniture with fabrics (or other) covers’. Because she always tries to respect and to match the original as closely as possible, the piece of furniture determines the technique (classic or modern). “Restoring furniture can be a big investment, so it has to be done perfectly, with the right technique and the right materials”. Unforeseen circumstances are reduced to a minimum. Therefore, this perfectionist spends a lot of time preparing a new project. Each project is a new challenge because you never know what it will bring and you don’t always know the history. That’s where the investigation begins :“I love doing research and deepening my knowledge by browsing of leafing through design books in order to trace important information about the furniture. Every action in the creation process impacts the next one and in the end the final result, so everything has to be well prepared and overthought. Each detail and all of the proportions have to be correct”. It goes without saying that the satisfaction is huge when all of the pieces come together during the reconstruction process and when the final result is exactly what Sophie had in mind from the beginning.
Penguin chairs (Foto ©City Furniture)
“Each project has to feel good, for both parties”, she says. That’s also why Sophie spends a lot of time in searching, selecting and discussing the right fabrics together with her client’s preference, interior and budget. A designer mostly knows exactly what he or she wants for the design, but for private clients it’s not that simple to choose the right color, texture and fabric.
City Furniture meets Cover & Couch
Cover & Cover & Couch was founded in 2010, first as a small workspace somewhere in Antwerp, but since September 2014 Sophie relocated her studio to a bigger workplace in the centre of Antwerp, together with Lenz of city furniture, a vintage dealer. “I love the dynamism of our concepts as they complement and strengthen each other.” Sophie works ‘alone but together’ and she’s totally fine with that.
Mid century modern
Most of the (favourite) furniture handled by Sophie, can be situated in the Mid-Century Modern design period (famous Martin Visser couch, Oyster chair by Pierre Paulin, …). Mid-century modern is an architectural, interior, product and graphic design that generally describes mid-20th century developments in modern design, architecture and urban development from roughly 1933 to 1965. The term is also used as a style descriptor for the mid-1950s.
No dust and no dark workspaces. Instead, a lady with a mission with a heart for design and respect for the furniture’s soul covered with carefully selected fabrics and treated with a lot of care. Sophie + Cover & Couch = perfect picture for your interior!