With a love for beautiful and ethical furniture, Tarhata and Andrew Watson made it their goal to build a design company that focuses on luxury furnishing made with up to 100% environmentally-friendly materials.
As the name suggests, Alt Collective focuses on alternative people highlighting the best of alternative furniture and working in a sustainable way that best supports the product, the producers, and the suppliers. With a strong belief in creating a minimal impact while maintaining design integrity, Alt Collective works closely with clients to practise a philosophy of environmental awareness whilst also delivering chic, bespoke furniture.
FOUR speaks to the creative duo to learn more about the Alt Collective collection and how they harmonise ethics with aesthetics…
How did you get into the design industry?
Andrew: Fell in love with a contemporary embroidery interpretation of a William Morris design.
Tarhata: I’m an engineer – I got into it when I married Andrew.
What makes Alt/Collective different, in your opinion?
A: We do our best to integrate environmental awareness and ethical supply chain into the design process. Even if it is not high on a client’s wish list, we do everything we can to ensure that not only the best quality furniture is delivered, but it has had the most minor environmental impact possible.
T: Since we founded Alt Collective, our goal has been to source up to 100% environmentally friendly, organic and biodegradable material for our designs. Even in certain aspects of logistics, we try to carbon offset as much as possible.
Our material collection has changed a lot since we founded Alt Collective, and we are constantly on the lookout for new innovative materials, such as the wood veneer fabric for upholstery.
How would you describe your designs?
A: The design form is inspired by the principles of Wiener Werkstätte – a collaboration of refinement to simple lines and pure materials. We look to be fundamentally elegant and sophisticated, to have comfort and quality instilled.
T: The concept of Wiener Werkstätte was very forward-thinking for its time, and it covered all aspects of design and art, including music and literature. I don’t think as designers we should limit ourselves to what we know about furniture design, and moving outside our comfort zone enables us to come up with something new.
Do you have a signature style or favourite design characteristics?
A: Natural form, natural materials, perfection in imperfections – elegance with the Wabi-Sabi philosophy comes into mind.
How important is it for you to champion local artisans, craftsmen and components?
A: Essential. However, it’s a balancing act because the right artisan or craftsmen we need for our design might not be in front of our doorstep. We source as local as possible, but we keep the quality aspect in mind first.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Both: Nature – most forms and experiences come from nature, as do most materials we work with. Most of the time, inspiration comes to us.
Do you have a favourite project or current favourite piece?
T: Yes – it’s always the next piece, the next project, the next inspiration. Every project is like a newborn, watching it grow and blossom.
What’s next for the company?
A: Distribution of the new design collections for the international premium residential markets. We are looking for those distribution partners that value our qualities… 2022 will be an exciting year, with many new furniture pieces to come.