Leather gets dyed, battered and burnished but there has been remarkably little use of leather as something to design on rather than in. British textile designer Moon Hussain is changing all that. Having considered studying graphic design, Hussain ultimately decided to tackle textiles at Central Saint Martins. She took a year out along the way to focus her mind, working for Diane von Furstenberg in New York, Liberty in London and H&M in Gothenburg, as well as visiting factories in Asia.

Hussain decided printed textiles was her thing (‘focusing on type and form’, not giving up on those graphic-design ambitions) and that printing and treating leather was a niche she could work in. ‘Leather is such a versatile material,’ says Hussain. ‘It is used in so many different areas, from automotive design and accessories to interiors. And there are so many textile designers out there but not many that work with leather specifcally.’

Hussain only graduated last summer but has already worked her way through a variety of design means and ends. ‘I work with digital printing but I always try to add another layer to my pieces, to make sure the material never feels flat and has some kind of tactility to it.’ She has also tried more experimental techniques. ‘One process I have developed is printing with concrete. It’s taken a while to work out what kind of techniques work best with each other. It’s an ongoing process.’

Hussain has just finished work on a limited run of hand-painted canvas and leather backpacks, which she will sell on her website and at selected stockists, and is now working on a collection of unisex bags. She also sells prints at Triangle Store in Clapton, east London. ‘I would love to be involved with bespoke interior projects. I am also looking into working with faux leathers and leathers produced from sustainable sources. This will probably be the future of the industry, and I would love to be at the forefront of that.’

As originally featured in the October 2015 issue of Wallpaper* (W*199)