About Lerif Designs

Lerif Designs was born out of an exploration into the nature of craftsmanship, organic materials and the relationship between people and material objects in their lives. The result of this exploration is hopefully communicated through your experience with us and the items we make.

The Craftsman

lerif designs leather craftsman at work bench finishing an item

 

Hello. The hands and mind which design and create your items belong to me, Ayman. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I am a former international development lawyer and current Masters student at Parsons School of Design at the New School, currently working out of the Lerif Designs atelier on Pelzgasse in Vienna, Austria. 

I began this project due to a fascination with craftsmanship, the act of doing a thing well for its own sake. I take immense joy in submerging myself in knowledge of the ways and nature of the materials I work with. It is my greatest honor to preserve a craft that goes back centuries and to create companion pieces for you which will accompany you through your life.

 

lerif designs the craftsman working on leather in the atelier

The Craft

I value one thing above all others: doing things by hand and doing them with utter devotion. Every stitch on every one of our items is made by hand, using saddle-stitch construction with hand-waxed ‘Lin Cable’ linen thread from Maison Sajou Ⓡ.  Saddle stitching creates a much stronger seam than any lock stitch machine can create.  When a machine lock stitch breaks, the entire seam becomes compromised, which is not the case with a hand-sewn saddle stitch.

 

Lerif Designs Ayman's hands stitching a leather item in a stitching horse

 

I am heavily aware of the impact to touch your items have, which is why I am painstakingly finishing the edges by hand.

 

lerif designs leather craftsman polishing edges on a wallet with canvas

 

The edges are sanded by hand with increasingly high grit, then wet sanded, then wood and canvas burnished, then in some cases, sealed with hot beeswax and finally, polished.

I also finish all of your items with our own house blend of leather cream to condition the leather and increase water resistance and color fastness. 

 

lerif designs finishing leather wallet with house blend creme

The Leather

Our vegetable-tanned leather is sourced from a 450-year-old tannery in the Tyrolean alps. I choose to work with this tannery, because I want to source materials locally, but also because I am impressed with the quality of the product and the condition of the hides.

 

lerif designs leather demo hands working on vegetable tanned leather in atelier

 

Vegetable tanning is the process of treating the hides in vegetable matter, mostly bark, leaves and wood chips for months at a time. This is a far more traditional and environmentally friendly method than industrial tanning, which uses heavy metals such as chromium as a tanning agent. Vegetable tanning also retains most of the natural qualities and ‘imperfections’ of the leather, and I only source leather with the least amount of processing and manipulation so that those qualities are retained. 

Although leather is a byproduct of the beef industry and no cow is ever harvested for its leather, it is important to be conscious of the living conditions of the animals we source from. The condition of the hides tells the story of the living conditions of the cows in the Bayern region of Germany from where the hides are sourced. Open spaces, no branding, no barbed wire, small-scale herds, few insects, natural and varied diet, and sleeping indoors in the winter.

The Dye

lerif designs wave cardholders lined up in different colors on beige background

 

Part of my philosophy is concerned with using only dyes derived from natural sources. The industry standard in leather goods is to use industrially produced synthetic dyes. These dyes can be used to produce any color imaginable, even bright, opaque colors. Synthetic dyes are also resistant to fading and friction and have uniform and predictable results. Unfortunately, the production and use of synthetic dyes is a highly polluting business and when applied, tend to hide most of the natural qualities of the leather.  

With dyes derived from plants, the color range is much more limited, the application is much more difficult, but the colors tend to be softer, allowing the character of the leather to shine through. Even though they tend to fade a bit, they do so with grace, combining with the patina of the leather to produce something unique to every item. 

 Every piece of leather is surface-dyed by hand using walnut shells for brown hues, turmeric and annatto for yellows, beet for pinks, cochineal for purples, indigo for blues, nettle leaves for greens and iron for black.