Louise Heighes creates sophisticated hand-sculpted leather framed art and panels for furniture and installations.

Her background in textile design and developing new material concepts is married with her intrigue in the repeated patterns found in nature. Exploring the tactile and malleable qualities of leather and other luxury materials by cutting and weaving two surfaces to create elegant three-dimensional reliefs.

Framed artworks are offered for sale, with custom enquiries for artworks and interior projects such as door panels welcomed.


Fir_leather_artwork_by Louise Heighes_Guilded by Charlotte Bowater

Louise’s studio is in Margate where she creates her bespoke work. She launched on to the scene with her Masters in Textile Design from Central St. Martin’s, selling her final degree collection to Chanel in Paris.

She then spent many years in the fashion industry, designing textiles and new material concepts for luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Azzedine Alaia, Nike and Chanel. Building on this background, today she handworks luxury materials to produce custom artwork for private and interior design clients for a variety of interior applications, adapting her material to suit requirement.

Louise has developed a portfolio, including repeat designs, inspired by the repetition of shapes found in nature, whether in a plant, feather, leaf or shell. Interested in the way two surfaces can become one when intertwined, cut or woven together she works her leather with precision; cutting, sculpting and moulding to enrich the flat surface into three dimension. Designs in this portfolio can serve as a starting point for custom orders and inspiration for bespoke discussions. Every piece is designed for the space and the leather available in 50 shades or custom dyed to suit. Please view a selection of artworks below, the majority of which are developed on a small scale. Her most recent artwork was brought about in conversation with Charlotte Bowater to offer an example of high quality framing and to draw attention to the potential of saturated colour.

Louise also works with other luxury materials including faux leather which enables her work to be displayed in more humid environments. She welcomes enquiries for projects, working with designers and joiners in the interiors market to create panels for doors, headboards or room screens. Her work can made as wall tiles or laid under glass for tables, desk tops and bars for an intriguing decorative effect.

Louise values simplicity, craftsmanship and seeks to create exquisite, enduring pieces.

Tell us, what led to your creating bespoke pieces of leather art?

I studied Textile Design at Central Saint Martins and sold my MA collection to Chanel. I then spent time working as a textile designer for Paris fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton and Azzedine Alaia. It was here that I fell in love with working with leather.
I have always loved experimenting with materials and techniques and the way leather can be cut, woven or folded into 3D shapes, while still remaining soft and tactile is endlessly inspiring.

What is the inspiration behind your designs?

My inspiration has always been the flow and movement seen in the natural world. My current work has focused on the patterns created by petals within a flower. I have always loved the way the shape of a single petal or flower is repeated over again, producing a myriad of ever changing new patterns.

I was first drawn to Wisteria. I love the beautiful ornate shape of its petals and how they change in scale throughout the fronds and I wanted to experiment with this imagery with my technique.
When it came to the Chrysanthemum, I was inspired by its mass of repeating petals that have that soft pom pom appearance. They almost make you want to dive into them!
Blossom has been another inspiration for me. I love the way that you often see light blossom petals flying through the air like confetti after the first gush of spring wind. It is a magical movement¬¬.

You also have a portfolio of geometric patterns – tell us about these

I find Nature/natural world is such a versatile source of inspiration.. it’s not only organic and free flowing … but so much of its beautiful is amazingly mathematical and geometrical: the spirals in a pine cone etc etc…. Having always been obsessed with patterns, I love the contrast etc

I have always been obsessed with patterns and I love the contrast between the movement in my free flowing designs with the more mathematical and structured layouts of geometric designs.

Many of the geometric patterns in my portfolio share their imagery with my free-flowing designs but these have a more ordered lay-out. So taking the fern for example, its light beauty and shape of the fronds inspired me to create an organic design, but I was also interested in the idea of working with the shape of a single frond and repeating it strictly along a line. I think this second design has a beautiful rhythm of its own and the shadow created adds an extra softness and depth to its beauty.

When we met last year I encouraged you to develop your latest piece “Fir“. What aspects of this reflect our conversation?

On meeting with you last year I was thinking about a concept focused on the fir tree and the positive and negative patterns created by the overlapping fronds of the leaf. You suggested that this might be the perfect opportunity to scale up my work and create a larger piece. We also chatted about exploring a wider colour palette and the idea of using a bolder colour on this occasion to offer an example distinct from the paler tones of leather I have used to date.. The leather I work with comes in 50 different shades and it is always possible to develop a bespoke colour of a project. I chose to work in a beautiful shade of dark khaki.

As an artist how do you find the process of creating a custom piece for clients?

I really enjoy this way of working, and bringing a clients vision to life and I find it one of the most stimulating ways to create. Engaging in someone else’s thought process is really enjoyable and brings new ideas and challenges to my work and provides me with new ways to think and create.

Are you working on anything new at the moment?

My inspiration has recently moved toward the patterns created by leaves hanging from the branches of trees. The amazing amount of different shaped leaves and how they all group and hang off trees and plants differently is an area I am very excited to explore.