When Tim Oulton first embarked on his own artisanal furniture collection he was introduced to Argentinian leather master Diego Diaz at a fair in Shanghai, and immediately offered him a job. Together they collaborate closely to produce Timothy Oulton’s totally unique hand-finished leathers.
Diego’s experience and knowledge balances with Tim’s creativity, resulting in ground breaking new ideas and concepts. Diego’s experiments have involved putting the leather through a concrete mixer and pouring different concoctions over the hides in his fully-functioning laboratory, all in the pursuit of new and interesting finishes.
A veteran in the leather industry, Diego’s career begun at one of the most established and traditional tanneries in Argentina when he was just 15 years old. Below, Diego explains his passion for working with one of the oldest materials known to man.
Diego, what is it about leather, why are you so passionate about it?
It is like something that gets under your skin and into your blood. You get the ‘leather bite’ as we say in the industry.
Where does your inspiration come from?
It could be a piece of wood, stone, anything really. I experiment in my ‘magic room’ with a trial and error process and make adjustments along the way until I come up with something really interesting.
How do you process the leather?
We don’t ever use pigments, because you need to apply lots of layers of coating which means the end result is very plain and unnatural. We use transparent natural dyes instead, they give the exact colour you want without adding extra layers to the leather.
Was the task of arriving at a vintage look with leather a difficult one?
It was more the touch that was problematic. In order to get the cracked vintage look, the material has to be hard so it will break. The task was then to smooth and soften the leather which we achieved by stretching the material.
What distinguishes good quality leather from bad quality?
The finishes are what matters. My preferences are for natural finishes, although leaving space for creation is necessary. Leather is one of the oldest materials used by mankind; we should always keep this in mind.
What is so special about the way you work with leather?
What’s more important is the amount of time we spend on each piece - how much ‘hand label’ we put into it is what really distinguishes us from the rest.
Do you consider yourself more of an artist or a craftsman?
One of my customers once told me “You are an artist; your canvas is the leather”. I couldn’t have said it any better. I try to come up with things that people probably never try to do. You need to be friends with the leather, to understand it and to see the product as a whole.
Explore Timothy Oulton’s leather sofas, leather armchairs and leather dining chairs or visit your nearest gallery to experience our leathers firsthandwewe.