archer and co cool contemporary sofas

Archer and Co cool contemporary sofas

Homegirl London pays homage to Archer and Co (Archer + Co). This seating business is run by a husband and wife team, the Archers. They create effortlessly cool and well-crafted sustainable sofas and armchairs which are manufactured in Britain. Everything is handmade to order so you get the opportunity for customisation or a totally bespoke design if you want. The collection is classic but with a contemporary twist which they call Soft Modern. The upholstery is exceptional so you can expect top quality and tactile textiles which means the finished product will feel just as good as it looks. Whether you want a contemporary corner sofa, retro style sofa, chaise longue or wing back armchair, you’ll certainly find a piece to fall in love with. I caught up with the owners of Archer and Co to find out more.

archer and co sloop chair

Sloop Chair

Meet the Archer and Co Owners

The business is run owned by Ian and Judith Archer, a husband and wife team. Judith tells me how they met – “It was at the Birmingham Polytechnic art design faculty (as it was called at the time) where Ian was studying furniture design and I was studying constructed textiles. We were both mad about design and spent spare weekends travelling to London and visiting various art galleries.” Ian graduated in 1889 and went to work in London for a range of different furniture manufacturers. He then freelanced and designed for a host of high street names including Ercol, Wesley Barrell, Heals and John Lewis. After college, Judith won a Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) bursary for textile design in transport and worked with Ford motor company. She then moved to Belgium for five years working in textile design and would travel back and forth at the weekends to see Ian.

archer and co owners

Ian and Judith Archer

The duo decided to launch their own venture in 2010 which was originally called Couch. They changed the name to reflect Ian’s role as the designer and Judith’s budding textile collection. The business was born out of the desire for Ian to design to his own brief. He tells me – “I was working for many major furniture companies around the UK and Europe, which I enjoyed but I craved an outlet for my own creations. I ultimately wanted to make sofas and armchairs which were well designed, good quality and at a reasonable price so people could enjoy them.”

archer and co sofa close up

Frame Sofa

Ian continues – “Sustainability is also important to me and I can now use environmentally friendly materials like natural latex for padding rather than synthetic foams along with a unique combination of coir (coconut husk fibres) needled wool and cotton wadding. We work with a few very well respected British manufacturers that we’ve known for years and who make all our products. Everything is made to order and is very high quality so it is really built to last. People often comment on how heavy our sofas and chairs are – it’s because they are so well constructed using traditional materials and skills.”

archer and co lulu chaise longue sofa

Lulu Chaise Longue Sofa

As a husband and wife team, they have found a way of working together. Judith explains –“Ian designs all the furniture but we discuss and brainstorm what type of look or shape we are going to do. Ian then goes away and does lots of beautiful drawings which we always have to cut them down to a few which will become a reality. While Ian’s off being creative I’ll attend to the day to day running of the business. Although, with my background in textiles I am now starting to work on a collection of printed designs which we can use on the furniture and cushions.”

archer and co velvet armchair

Mama Chair

The pair are based in Bristol which they love, Judith enthuses – “With a burgeoning designer-maker community and a strong arts focus there is always plenty going on. It’s a bit calmer than London and we have easy access to the south west coast but can also get to London easily when we need to. It’s also a great place to bring up children so overall Bristol offers everything we need for the business and family life.”

Archer and Co Collection

The collection is full of beautiful, timeless, high quality sofas and armchairs. The style is classic with a contemporary edge which they call Soft Modern. Ian elaborates – “I’d say my work is bold. I’ll often take classic shapes and give them my own contemporary or unexpected twist. I feel this elevates them into something special and distinctive. For example, the Raffa chair has quite a modern shape but it uses traditional rattan cane work, something which is very on-trend this year. Judith’s influences come into play with the textiles and at the moment she’s creating geometric prints which are digitally manipulated for interesting upholstery.”

archer and co raffa armchair

Raffa Armchair

Ian tells me about some of his creations – “The Jumbo is a contemporary take on a chesterfield with button back detailing. It’s big enough for the family to slouch out on.”

archer and co jumbo sofa

Jumbo Sofa

Bloomsbury is Ian’s take on reinterpreting a classic British design, he says – “This echoes the ‘Howard’ sofa shape which gives you high back support in a fashionable style.”

archer and co bloomsbury sofa

Bloomsbury Sofa

The Frame sofa has been inspired by mid-century modern designs, Ian tells me – “This seating is all about the exposed solid ash, oak or walnut frame which champions British craft and sustainable furniture.”

archer and co frame sofa

Frame Sofa

The Tango sofa and armchair have a very dramatic shape, Ian elaborates – “I was inspired by dance and movement for this particular piece. It’s poised on elegant angled legs and curved back with exaggerated ‘wings’ for a retro feel. The high back and fixed seat offer excellent comfort. It really does make a statement.”

archer and co tango armchair

Tango Armchair

Ian’s inspiration comes from two distinct directions, he reveals – “The forms of my designs come about from manipulating shapes, both through sketching and 3D CAD modelling. However, I’m sure my love of cars, both contemporary and vintage, has a subliminal impact on my ideas. And then there is the fabric aspect to the upholstery, where both men’s and women’s fashions seasonally suggest things to explore and apply to furnishings. I spent nearly ten years designing very traditional furniture and this ‘vocabulary’ of shape and detail is ingrained in me. I think I constantly re-interpret and re-proportion these elements to create new contemporary pieces.”

Buy Archer and Co Products

All products can be bought online from Archer and Company. They also sell some home accessories and lighting on the website so do take a look. You can also visit the showroom which is located at 24 Alma Vale Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2HY. It’s open on selected days so do check the website for further information. Sofa prices start from £1500 upwards and armchairs from £800. If you would like to make changes to the existing designs or you want a completely bespoke piece they are happy to help you. Unfortunately they are unable to ship the furniture overseas at present.

Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Courtesy of Archer and Co, Photographers featured are Oliver Edwards (Sloop, Lulu and Mama) and Mark Bolton (Ratta, Jumbo, Bloomsbury, Frame and Tango). Thanks: Ian Archer, Judith Archer and Gina Channell.