Shiomi Sone from Howe uses antique textiles to create the company's unique cushions.
Words by Camilla Swift.
Ever since antique dealer Christopher Howe started Howe London in the 1980s, the business has called Belgravia its home.
It sells its antiques and range of Made by Howe products from the shop at 93 Pimlico Road.
(Meanwhile sister company, Howe at 36 Bourne Street, specialises in textiles.)
Christopher Howe has always retained an interest in restoring furniture, and many of the antiques sold in the shop are either reupholstered or renovated.
Textiles are therefore a vital part of the company.
This is where the handmade Made by Howe cushions come in, creating a line between the Howe antiques and the newer furniture in the range.
“Howe is very well known for its stripy fabrics, so people tend to love our stripy cushions,” explains Shiomi Sone.
She makes the cushions in Howe’s Belgravia shop.
Waste not, want not
“Floral prints are popular too, and also anything with tassels, or patchwork designs. I use antique textiles, but I try to use remnants that we have left over from furniture or sofas, so we don’t waste any fabrics.
“Often these vintage fabrics are far too nice to cut up, so I try to be a bit eco-friendly and use up whatever is left over,” she says.
The Made by Howe range retains the original Howe aesthetic with a strong focus on visible craftsmanship.
Any wear and tear on antiques is embraced rather than covered up.
Bringing a Japanese twist
“I’m from Japan, so I think I see things differently to English people and Westerners,” says Shiomi.
“I try to mix my background with English style, but one thing I have learned from Christopher Howe is to stop being so neat.
“Perfection is a very Japanese thing, but I’ve learned that sometimes making a random stitch can be more unique.”
“Initially I was quite nervous about not stitching in clean lines, but now I’ve got used to using more casual, random stitches, and I enjoy it,” she adds.
Using antique textiles means that sometimes, “perfection” is impossible.
“Antique fabric doesn’t behave the same way as new fabric when you’re working with it. So, it can sometimes be a challenge to work with, and I have to stitch in a different way.
“Every time I make a cushion I’m learning, which is interesting for me as well,” she says.
Dog beds too
The company has also introduced a range of dog beds, which are extremely popular.
“Howe is very dog friendly, and we have quite a few dogs in the office.”
“So I had a think about what I could make for dogs, and these were immediately popular. Every time I make one it sells almost straight away,” she says.
Would you trust your dog on a bed made from antique material?
“I’ve not heard any bad stories about dogs chewing the beds up. Maybe they are all just very well-behaved dogs!”