Modern luxury: Savoir

Bespoke bedmaker Savoir has collaborated with leather specialist Bill Amberg Studio to create two new designs inspired by the transition from dark to light

Art and Design 17 Sep 2019

Savoir x Bill Amberg's Ocean design is inspired by early morning light refracting through water

Savoir x Bill Amberg's Ocean design is inspired by early morning light refracting through water

In 1905, Richard D’Oyly Carte required a bed luxurious enough for the rooms of his newly opened Savoy Hotel. Unable to find anything suitable, he created his own. The result is still made today: Savoir No. 2, and its spirit still governs Savoir’s approach to every bed it creates.

At the Savoir Bedworks in north-west London and South Wales, craftsmen handcraft beds from inception to completion. Every bed is bespoke, from custom comfort to design details, made and signed by one master craftsman for one customer. Savoir makes fewer than 1,000 beds a year, prioritising the highest quality over quantity.

Just around the corner from Savoir’s London factory is the Bill Amberg Studio, which was launched more than 30 years ago and is an industry leader in bespoke leather products, interiors and furniture. Bill Amberg and Savoir managing director Alistair Hughes have admired each other’s work for many years, and a collaboration has long been on the cards.

‘I’ve known Alistair for some time and he always asked me to visit as both of our businesses are so engaged in the craft of making,’ says Amberg. ‘When I called in on the factory, I was in awe at the quality of their work. That really got me thinking about my perfect bed, and started the thought process about the gentle shift from day to night, and how we might realise that together.’

This transition is what inspired Bill to create new leather designs exclusively for Savoir, which takes the form of two innovative new styles, Sky and Ocean.

Bill Amberg used innovative new methods to print the designs on specially-made leather

Sky evokes the change in light as dawn moves into day. Ocean plays on the idea of swimming from the depths towards the surface at daybreak and the refraction of light through water during the early hours.

In order to translate these calm and cathartic moods into watercolours that could be applied to a head- and footboard, Bill experimented with a mix of sprays and marbling techniques in his studio. Once happy with the artworks, he recreated these as full-size paintings, which were scanned 1:1 in preparation for digital printing.

The development of unique materials for the project has been three years in the making. To produce a suitable surface for printing on, the Bill Amberg Studio developed a leather tannage from scratch, which was designed to accept the dyes used in digital printing, while retaining the luxurious feel of the leather. Advanced technology afforded a deeper dye penetration than had previously been possible, resulting in a robust design that will not fade or crack. A solid brass frame and trim works perfectly with the leather and gives a contemporary silhouette.

‘All aspects of British craftsmanship are central to the work of Savoir and Bill Amberg Studio, so this felt like a very natural collaboration,’ says Hughes. ‘We are experts in making the most comfortable and extraordinary beds, so it was exciting working with Bill to develop such an innovative leather bed design.’

If Richard D’Oyly Carte were alive today, he would surely be pleased that his bed-making legacy has been continued, and the spirit of the No. 2 lives on.

Ocean, featuring a Savoir No. 3 bed set, from £47,000, and Sky, featuring a Harlech headboard with No. 4 bed set, from £18,500;