The Elvia collection
A first edition for a British winter
Each cushion in the new Elvia collection is embroidered by hand in Mexico and finished by hand in Wiltshire.
Suitable for the sofa, chairs, beds and window seats, each cushion is backed with a dark grey British herringbone by Tinsmiths.
“In an artisan shop in rural Mexico we spotted a beautiful purse that had been left on a chair. We had already been through piles of cloth looking for colours and designs that would bring comfort in a cold British winter but without finding what we wanted. And then there was this purse that had been hand-embroidered without a pattern or direction, and the design was exactly what we needed.” Kate Clark, co-founder of Montes&Clark
Retreat to the sofa
The Elvia collection is our response to the British winter. When the cold sets in and we retreat to our sofas and firesides, we wanted to create a deeply, restorative space when we can hibernate and recuperate. With Mexican artistry and British herringbone cloth, the new collection offers warmth and charm as an antidote to the long, cold months of winter.
An artistic relationship
We source much of our embroidery from a co-operative in Chiapas, Mexico. Set up by indigenous women, it enables the embroiderers and weavers to earn a sustainable living, and over the last few years we have become one of the co-op’s main customers. It is an artistic relationship that we value.
Both the embroidery designs and skills are passed down generation to generation. The women work from memory, without patterns, and although they are always creating new and exciting designs, they are communal gatekeepers of a vast design heritage.
Why is the winter collection named after Elvia?
We work closely with Elvia, the chairperson of the co-operative. Her impressive organizational and computer skills, and the ability to speak several dialects, enables her to manage the growing team of embroiderers and weavers. While we were creating a collection full of warmth and colour for the long months of winter, we were thinking about names. And Elvia seemed to sum up everything we were hoping to create. A source of strength for her community, she is also full of genuine warmth and good humour.
Using a simple purse that we found in the cooperative shop as inspiration, we designed the winter collection with Elvia. First a thick cotton is woven by hand on a backstrap loom, an ancient weaving technique that was used by the Mayas, and popularized in the 20th century by the Mexican artist, Frida Khalo. This heavyweight material in grey or navy gives warmth and substance to each cushion. The cloth is then hand-embroidered by the artisans. The design uses blocks of repeated closed buttonhole circles and a contrasting zigzag pattern. All the embroiderers work from the same colour palette but the rhythm of the colours within the pattern is spontaneous.
A deep, restorative warmth
We chose a colour palette that brings a deep, restorative warmth to the coldest days of our winter. The burnt reds and oranges soothe rather than excite, reflecting the gentle glow of embers at the end of cosy fireside evening. The yellows and oranges are not summer bright but have warm, sustaining tones that lend strength and depth. And the lavender and heather bring a sense of harmony and a warm, embracing feeling that all will be well with the world.
Finished by hand in Wiltshire
Each cushion is finished by hand in our own workshop in a quiet, rural location in Wiltshire. We work calmly and thoroughly, and the finish is exceptional. Kate, co-founder of Montes&Clark, oversees high standards of finish having trained at the Royal School of Needlework and led a team of embroiderers at St.Paul’s Cathedral before setting up M&C.
Within the collection there is a choice of a subtle, soft grey which brings calm and tranquility to the embroidery, and a dark blue which punches out the colours and invigorates a sofa. Each cushion is backed with a dark grey Linen Union cloth, a British herringbone by Tinsmiths.
Beautiful and practical
These cushions are works of art. Each one is unique and handstitched but that doesn’t mean you have to be precious with them. The stitching is hardy and the colourfast cotton thread means that the covers can be washed in the machine at 30C before ironing.
Sizes and shapes
The cushions in the Elvia collection are suitable for sofas, chairs, beds and window seats:
Long rectangle 35 x 90cm
Rectangle 35 x 60cm
Square 50 x 50cm.