Ardea Upholstery: Working with Manchester Creatives

We get to meet a lot of people by running Cotton On MCR, lots of artists, creatives and people with inspiring stories. One of those people is Anna Hill. She has recently taken a leap and launched a new upholstery business with a twist, an art twist, and one we are all for!

Sat on Saul Hay’s couch during our ‘In Manchester’ exhibition, Anna is looking around and noting down artists who take her fancy. She loves the fact we work solely with Greater Manchester based artists, which is something that is key in Anna’s business also.

I sat and chatted with Anna about her career change, her new business, and how you as an artist and creative can get involved.

It was nice to hear how Anna and I have a lot in common. Both of us always had a passion for arts, Anna’s being in design and fabric, but we both ended up in another job, an non-creative career. We both had a rethink of our career choices and wanted to bring together our passions and knowledge and do something new, something creative.

Ardea Upholstery aims to link art and upholstery together. Anna’s goal is to create these amazing, beautiful and limited edition chairs, which have fabrics designed by local, Manchester based artists. Anna believes that these chairs can be an alternative canvas for artists, a new way for them to show their work and get their art into people’s homes and venues. Her aim is to partner with artists, to use their designs and convert these into stunning and luxurious artistic chairs.

The idea for this career change started in lockdown (which I think was a catalyst for a lot of creatives, a chance for people to reflect on their life and passions and a chance to retrain to do something new). She realised she wasn’t fulfilled in her day job and wanted to do something creative. She took her passion for fabrics and design and studied at the Ministry of Upholstery, learning the craft of creating armchairs, footstools and more. What makes Anna different is her drive to work with local Manchester based artists (the bit we love!).

Anna’s dream is to collaborate with local artists to showcase their artwork on the fabric she uses to upholster her chairs. There are a number of ways designs can be produced, for example, the artist could design a repeat pattern that is printed directly onto a fabric. Or, the artwork as it is, as a single image, could be printed onto the fabric which Anna uses to upholster the inside back of the chair, like a feature wall. Anna can also create cushions too! She wants to work closely with the artists, making sure all parties are happy with the finished fabric design. Plus, this is a collaboration, Anna wouldn’t own the artwork, it is still the artist’s to use, and the artist will also be making money from the sales of the chairs! It’s a win win situation.

The goal of these chairs is to enhance people’s homes and venues, to be a focal point in the interior design, to reach a new audience of art fans and to give them a unique way of bringing art into their homes. To reach this goal, Anna is keen to work with a variety of Manchester artists, from any background and any type of artwork. She is open to new ideas and to pushing the boat out of what the designs could be. It doesn’t have to be a traditional fabric pattern at all, it can be completely out there, quirky and unique. This is a chance for artists to spread their design ideas to a whole new type of canvas, and a whole new art form.

So if you like the sound of what Anna is doing, or want to hear more, get in touch to talk about creating a collaboration. You can drop her a message on the links below. She is all for making connections with artists and is looking forward to hearing from you. And we are looking forward to seeing what you create!


You can find out more about Ardea Upholstery and about Anna on her website ardeaupholstery.co.uk or her Instagram account @ardea.upholstery and do drop her a message if you are interested in a collaboration!

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