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Anatomy Of A Design: A Closer Look At The Allora Collection From Cortina Leathers

Designer Virginia Langley and president of Cortina Leathers Jack Prause join us this week to discuss their collaboration in creating the Allora collection. Inspired by the sun-touched hues of Tuscany and protected by Crypton, Allora offers designers a contemporary, daring and versatile choice for a cleanable leather. Embracing the natural characteristics of leather, Allora’s aniline finish (no pigments) has a smooth texture, a pleasing hand, and a stunning clarity of color that won’t distress or patina over time.

cortina leathers allora collection

Raymond Schneider: When did you first start to develop this new collection?
Virginia Langley: Development on this collection started almost 2 years ago, we wanted to create an Italian leather collection that offered trending styles and colors, as well as hold up to performance and longevity.

Raymond: What was your initial inspiration, and where did the idea(s) come from?
Virginia: The initial inspiration was a “Modern, fresh look at Tuscany”. Moving away from the traditional viewpoints & familiar impressions, I created a story of someone who arrives on vacation in Tuscany with a ‘magical pair of sunglasses’ that change your perspective, and give you a new impression and fresh look at all the wondrous nature-inspired imagery and colors that Tuscany holds.

Raymond: Please describe your overall creative and design process.
Virginia: My creative and design process is paramount to me. I want to be able to transfer the passion & story through these processes. So for Allora, I researched colors and trends & then hand-painted each so there is a very authentic & genuine feel to each hue, filled with the natural textures and translucency of paint, dyes and leather.

cortina leathers

Raymond: Did you have a specific audience or theme that you had in mind?
Virginia: With Allora having the addition and benefits of Crypton, the performance and longevity of these leathers is perfect for any hospitality project and allows designers to even use lighter colors now, without the fear of permanent stains. Allora is also ideal for residential markets with the fashionable & luxurious leathers & hues.

Raymond: Please describe the methods, tools, and materials you used to develop and prototype this design?
Jack Prause: Virginia hand-painted swatches with rough brushstrokes of color, enabling her to communicate the variegation she was looking for with areas of strong, bright color contrasting with sections with a light tint of translucent color which allow the color of the underlying swatch to come through. This method of hand-painting recreated the depth and glow of Tuscany and clearly directed the use of only aniline dyes (no pigment) in the leather crafting process.

Raymond: Please describe any challenges that affected the design and perhaps steered you to an entirely new final design?
Jack: The challenge in the design of Allora was to simultaneously achieve our dual competing objectives for this leather. First and foremost, the leather had to be beautiful. It was essential that it brought Virginia’s vision of a modern Italian design aesthetic to life. We needed a tannage that gave the leather smooth lines that maintained their shape and look over time; a leather that did not distress, pull-up or patina over time which can evoke a more western or aged cigar-bar feel. Most importantly, it had to use only aniline dyes with a light effect coat to achieve the color depth, translucence, and variation.

However, these requirements make it challenging to achieve the second objective, which was sufficient stain resistance, cleanability, and durability to allow designers to specify the leather with confidence for any purpose or location, including high traffic and dining areas. It took many trials and different processes, along with the special performance characteristics of our Crypton treatment, to achieve the performance we needed without sacrificing the beauty of the vision.

Raymond: Describe your overall brand DNA and Ethos
Jack: Founded in 1903, Cortina Leathers has always crafted design-inspired, premier quality leathers that enable designers to create beautiful spaces. We work with leading designers and colorists to ensure we have on-trend leathers in fresh colorways that ground-breaking designers reach for. Our global operational capabilities and industry-leading partnering with artisanal Italian tanneries combined with our precision U.S. manufacturing facility with quick-custom capability allow us to offer the best leather on time and at the best price for our customers’ needs.

Click here to see more of our “Anatomy of a Design” series.

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