No one in their right mind is bold enough to cut open a vintage Louis Vuitton bag and use it to make a chair. Everyone except for Manhattan-born designer/artist Sarah Coleman. What started out as a simple fascination of taking household items and turning them into something else, has blossomed into a growing career and social media following.
Currently sitting at around 26K followers on Instagram and a consumer base big enough to be making “about 10-15 chairs a month”, Sarah has well established herself as the designer chair-maker your friends keeps resharing on their Instagram Story feed.
She first started giving chairs the vintage designer bag makeover in July 2018, when she reupholstered an arm chair using an old LV hanging bag. “I loved the way that it looked, she tells us. “It’s always hard to describe something and why you like it, but it gave me that feeling inside. This is cool. I love this.”
Since then, Coleman has gone on to create countless home good items from the Gucci director chairs, LV benches, to designer coffee mugs, to matchboxes. With so many items that could fill up a boutique, her most commonly known piece is her folding chair.
Surprisingly, Sarah came up with the idea for using that type of furniture after coming across small 20 inch folding chairs at a massage parlor in downtown Manhattan. After copping a few, reupholstering them, and then sharing them on social media, fans quickly appeared and requested for larger models.
Fast-forward to today, she’s selling her chairs either single or by the bulk of six, while making about a dozen every month. “Some people can’t get over the idea of cutting up so many of these bags, but there are so many of them,” she states. “There are so many just sitting in a basement.”
Giving products a “second-life” is a growing trend in streetwear culture. Marketplaces like StockX and Grailed continue to be a hotspot for users to buy or resale goods they no longer want to use instead of throwing them away. Many brands including adidas’ Parley For the Oceans focus on using sustainable materials to make fully recyclable clothing.
With her chairs, Sarah is giving “a second life to a thing that was sitting in the back of people’s closets.” While some are confused and mad that she’s ripping up old bags, she couldn’t be more thrilled to continue to feed her fascination and inspire others to “use the material and not be scared to use it.”
For more on Sarah Coleman and a closer look at how she crafts her popular designer chairs, press play in the video above.