Lorraine Mulligan, President of the Ellen Ash Collection, spoke with Ellen Gefen about recognizing a need for customized pieces for the design industry. This collection made its debut in High Point in June, 2020!
Ellen Gefen: What is really cool about living near High Point North Carolina is that if someone is setting up a new collection or having a little mini market I get to be there so easily. Lorraine Mulligan has started the Ellen Ash collection and made in the USA available through designers and through specialty retailers. So Lorraine tell us a little bit about the collection.
Lorraine Mulligan: Okay so Ellen Ash is a Bespoke upholstery collection that we developed and was developed based on my experience in the commercial design industry. So I saw a niche where we started to produce our own upholstery’s project specific and that kind of led to as a designer, the knowledge that I always can’t find what I need and so that’s how it grew.
Ellen Gefen: So talk about some of the pieces that you felt weren’t being addressed in the marketplace and that you’re bringing to the market.
Lorraine Mulligan: So one of the things that really, I really love is details, it’s architectural details. It’s the idea that there is a need for more customizable pieces for the design industry and not necessarily a large scale collection where you have to buy into on a large scale. So this is very much a designer friendly collection, the designer can come in they can customize whatever they want. For instance, in this detail here you see this beautiful hand nailed element around this piece. It also has a wide seat which is unusual. So it really, really works for both male and female. It’s especially nice in these large open plan design which are so popular in the construction industry.
Ellen Gefen: In addition to having barstools and ottomans you are doing a lot of sofas and chairs so what make your seating different?
Lorraine Mulligan: So our seating is very is based really on the ergonomics of seating. I did a lot of work in the senior housing industry and one of the things that you have to really pay particular attention to is how things sit. There are so many great upholstery lines out there but so few that actually sit really well and so if you as a woman or a man sitting in our pieces you really, really see the difference in how it sits comfortably, in how the leg length works and how the back support works and so that is an intrinsic part of all of our pieces in the collection.
Ellen Gefen: This is a channel back piece and I’m going to try it. Wow, this is comfortable. Wow, love it. Okay, now this is a one cushion seat. Why this? I know there’s lots of different options that people can choose whether it’s multiple seat options, one pillow option, multiple back options. Why doesn’t..
Lorraine Mulligan: This particular design I really like the visual of the long pillow but the thing about this sofa is if you have a client that wants two cushions, you can order it with two seat cushions. You don’t have to have the single cushion. If you want the channels to be further apart, you can order it that way as well. And you also can order it in custom lengths. So if you have a beautiful large room that needs an extra two feet on a sofa, we can produce that in this same style.
Ellen Gefen: Okay so our viewers are both consumers and designers. What’s cool about this is that a consumer sometimes doesn’t realize they can have options for their seating.
Lorraine Mulligan: That’s right.
Ellen Gefen: They don’t have to take just what’s available.
Lorraine Mulligan: That’s right.
Ellen Gefen: Okay, and in terms of the fabrics that you’re using what type of fabrics are you using?
Lorraine Mulligan: So we use a lot of performance fabric. It’s really what is really the thing nowadays that I’ve noticed that my residential clients were looking for. I mean, they have children, they have dogs and if it’s anything like my house it’s a three-ring circus. So one of the things that becomes very important is if you are a family member and you want to make the commitment to buy a custom bespoke piece of furniture you want it to last. Our frames are kiln-dried they are based on commercial weight so that they have a longevity so in ten years the most you’ll need to do is recover it. So on this chair what I was going for here was this this beautiful curved detail in the back and this idea that you can have a narrower arm but allow the depth to be in the seat. That’s I think is very important in finding a sort of contemporary club chair. The other nice thing about this is because it has this really beautiful line in the back, it will float in the larger spaces that you know, we’re designing for nowadays. There’s just so many you know. The kitchen family room has become one unit and this allows you to float the chair in the center of the room.
Ellen Gefen: What I think is cool is the way you have the seating coming over and water falling over the front.
Lorraine Mulligan: I think it’s a very modern take on a club chair and it still sits like a really comfortable club chair.
Ellen Gefen: Okay and then this tufted ottoman that we have back here is fabulous.
Lorraine Mulligan: So this ottoman, the nice thing about this is you can have it on rollers or not, so you can move that around. It also can be made in a larger size so this is a 38 you can make it in a 48, a 60. The nice thing about this is it acts as extra seating in a room and you can also have this narrower so that you can do a smaller seating area around it. What I particularly love about this and the guys making it in the factory really were laughing at me when they said, “you want tufts where?” I said, Everywhere”. I really love the idea of this very deep tufting. I think it if you feel it, it really does, you know it’s got a nice give to it so it really sits like upholstery seating not like a rock. I think so often when you have tufted pieces they don’t have the give to the seat.
Ellen Gefen: Right. Two other details that I’m noticing are some of on your nail head trim. Like you have great square nail head trim very different on these chairs but also the use of two different types of materials on this sofa and also the arm detailing.
Lorraine Mulligan: Yeah so for me again, it’s that architectural component is how is it constructed. By using these sort of different elements on these classic shapes you really can celebrate the architecture of the piece so you really see the depth of the seat, and then this nice sort of squared off or boxed back push cushion and then this rolled arm. The nice thing about this is if you notice that this is actually a chaise. It has a cut by arm on this side and really because of the depth of this this will work as a sofa as
well. So you can have that kind of nice element again in a large space opposite a sofa or opposite two chairs. You have you know, an element that can work as a sofa or as a chaise.
Ellen Gefen: The full collection can be seen on the website for ellenashcollection.com. If a consumer is interested they could look it up, find a designer near them and have custom-made furniture made in the united states and made exactly to their specification and details. I love the attention to detail and everything you brought to the collection. Thanks so much for joining me. Thank you very much. Again this is the Ellen Ash collection, made in North Carolina and this is its debut.