In conversation with: Aiveen Daly

Aiveen Daly is a specialist in fabric manipulation, producing exquisite hand bead work, embroidery and leather craft for some of the world’s finest interior projects. This is not just upholstery, this is Aiveen Daly upholstery.

When did you start the business?

I began the business about 15 years ago after working in marketing. Initially I was buying antique furniture and adding textile artistry finishes such as hand beadwork, embroidery or specialist leather work to the upholstery.

How hands on are you?

When I started I designed and made everything myself. As the business has grown and the palette of finishes and techniques that we offer has expanded I now work alongside a team of specialists. I am very hands on in terms of design and creative direction and I also have a lot of my own personal artistic projects which I work on outside the studio which keep me inspired.

Aiveen against her leather and silk wall art

It is quite a leap from marketing to upholstery, what attracted you to this craft?

I have embroidered and knitted since I was a child. I always loved textiles and the decorative arts, but I didn’t know how to convert it to a career. I came from a professional family in Cork and I was quite academic so a creative life seemed a million miles away. When I started learning upholstery it opened my eyes to the world of interiors and this was a fantastic foundation on which to build my passion for textile artistry.

You create such delicate, intricate patterns. Do you enjoy the challenge of manipulating fabric and leather into something other?

I love creating and doing something totally new that hasn’t been seen before. We work with some of the most respected designers across the globe. Their expectations are extremely high and their own work is incredibly ambitious. This really pushes us to the highest level to create something totally unique, personal and impeccable for our clients.

Made from hand punched suede ‘leaves’, Oceana has been used for wall art, ceilings and panels

Tell me about your favourite commission?

I absolutely love using large scale contemporary embroidery as an artwork in the same way that tapestry has historically been used. I also love mixing old and new techniques. Currently we’re printing on leather and layering with hand quilt work, embroidery and laser etching. As commissions are for very exclusive projects, we often don’t get to show the final artworks publicly, but if you keep an eye on Instagram you can get glimpses of some of the techniques.

Upholstery has not historically been a female occupation. Do you bring a fresh perspective to the craft that perhaps men don’t?

When I started learning upholstery I was repeatedly told not to bother by seasoned craftsmen. I think they were jaded by the insatiable appetite for throw-away high street furniture. Clients didn’t want to invest in repairing or updating existing furniture. This has now totally changed and younger people are much more focussed on sustainability. We offer a high-end ‘luxcycling’ service. Clients can bring existing furniture to us and we will reimagine it by adding sumptuous hand embroidery or leather manipulation. It makes the piece relevant again and often collectable – perfect for the next stage of its life.

This chair features Aiveen’s signature hand woven leather detailing

How do you imagine your pieces used in interiors?

Our clients now trust us to work with them in many areas of the home. It might be nature inspired leather artwork in an entrance hall, a sumptuous, pleated silk panel for a master bedroom, hand embroidered dining chair backs with flowers and birds, woven leather cushions, beaded curtain leading edges and hand crocheted tie backs with Japanese ribbons. We’ve also worked in bathrooms and on ceilings – the possibilities are endless!

Have you ever been asked to produce something that was impossible to create?

Yes – all the time. We thrive on difficult commissions that nobody else wants to touch! We have hand beaded panels with over 40,000 beads and upholstered with antique tapestries that cost tens of thousands of pounds. Clients trust us with their most ambitious projects and ideas. It’s high stakes and not for the faint hearted.

What are you working on now?

We are working on a penthouse in New York, a royal residence in the Middle East and a very special superyacht in Germany.

You can visit the Aiveen Daly website here

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