Born an upholsterer

Skandium was looking to find the best possible upholsterer able to produce a prototype of our first sofa, designed by Daniel Schofield. After some research, many recommendations pointed towards ‘the man’ – Tomasz Seweryn, located in East London. We met Tomasz when he was about to reupholster the so-called Papa Bear chair by Hans Wegner. It was a tricky job requiring much skill, so we where curious to see who he was. Here he tells us his story in his own words.

 

“I was born 1976 in a small provincial town in North East Poland. My father and my mother where both upholsterers, so was my grandfather and his father. Upholstery is in my blood, it is my life, is what I love to do. I started helping my father as a junior apprentice at the age of 12. We would work all hours through the year, even on ice cold winter days, in our little workshop. I loved watching my father at work. How skill fully he could transform something ugly into something most beautiful, making magic with his hands. He was my best teacher and at his side I spent three years learning the basics of the trade, and later quite advanced skills.

 

 

At 15 years of age, I was sent to work with another upholsterer to get a different perspective, to learn other skills and to stand on my own feet. I have since completed my Master Upholster diploma and managed a stint at university learning engineering - I was not so keen on the latter as it was very theoretical. However, it was a time when I was able to travel, which I did a lot, again to look beyond what I was used to in order to find new ways of thinking. Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, Monaco, the UK… I loved it! The countries are so close, yet so diverse. It is interesting to see how people can act so differently in similar situations. I just love observing, soaking up the surroundings.

 

Finally - now many years ago - I settled in London. I love London the most! It offers so much choice and variety, it’s never boring and it’s always challenging. I have been employed for 11 years here and have simultaneously been teaching both at my workplace and at Shoreditch Design Room in Hackney. Many of my pupils have become upholsterers and have opened their own businesses, something that pleases me a lot. I offer people a real trade, something they value, something that supports them and others, too.

I now have a 7-year-old son who, oddly, loves to come to my workplace and learn about the tools and materials. We tried to put him into music and ballet class, but soon the teachers would come to me saying, ‘this boy is not made for dance, see what else he likes instead’. I truly do not want to influence him, as I believe that finding ones true calling brings much blessing to ones life and of course, I want him to feel free to choose what he wants to do. Strangely though, he chooses to play with work tools. I am happy that I am able to pass my trade onto him should he decide to follow in the family footsteps.

After so many years of training people, I am now venturing into building my own business. I’m doing this together with the Shoreditch Design Room. Often my customers are very wealthy, so when I turn up with my bike and toolbox and without a flash car or a big logo, they look me up and down sceptically, wondering if they’ve hired the right man.  Luckily once I get going they change their tune, which is great for me as I love to amaze them.”

By Tomasz Seweryn

We are proud to have worked with such a skilful master as Tomasz on our first own sofa, designed by Daniel Schofield, introduced during London Design Festival in 2014. Tomasz skilfully translated Daniels design ideas into the beautiful, timeless piece it was meant to be. The comfortable cushions sit on a solid oak frame. We named it ‘At Ease’ – for easy living with a bit of personality living with you every day for many years to come.

Skandium would like to thank Tomasz for assisting us in creating this beautiful sofa.