Seek 'n' hide
Concorde, the QE2, and the Orient Express. Volvo vehicles have more than luxurious travel in common with these first-class modes of transport, and that’s the exquisite upholstery crafted from Bridge of Weir leather.
Behind each piece of Bridge of Weir leather in your Volvo, you’ll also find the same levels of care, craftsmanship and knowledge that went into the leather used for the clubhouse chairs of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews and the seats that grace Britain’s Houses of Parliament.
When Bridge of Weir Leather was founded in 1905, the city of Glasgow was synonymous with manufacturing quality and engineering excellence. And it was leather from Bridge of Weir that was chosen to supply the finishing touch to the locally built ships, trains, buses and trams that were among the best in the world.
With roots that can be traced back to 1758, Bridge of Weir is a true family business. Members working there currently range between third and eighth generation. Sales director Jamie Davidson is seventh-generation: his great-grandfather, Arthur Muirhead, founded the company.
Jamie reveals that his company’s partnership with Volvo started in the early 1980s.
“We started with the Volvo 740 back in 1983,” says Jamie. “The upholstery we produced was a single-tone colour, which is what most cars have today, but interestingly we then developed a two-tone, almost cloud-like effect, on the leather. So it almost looked used, like a good antique armchair that gets better with age.
“The big turning point [in our partnership] was the Volvo 850. We were sole supplier, which was very unusual. But by that point Volvo had the confidence to give us all the colours for that car.”
Today, Bridge of Weir supplies the leather for almost all Volvo models.
The Scottish company admits Volvo Cars’ specifications “are quietly rightly very rigorous”.
“Volvo wants very soft, natural-looking leather,” says Bridge of Weir’s head designer, Debra Choong. “But they want it to meet high standards for wearability. It’s an exciting challenge to develop a leather that has that magical combination of an ultimately natural look, but that is durable and has high-performance qualities.”
Bridge of Weir holds annual trend shows to present future ideas regarding design trends and innovations. One thing that won’t change is the people.
“People are so important in this business,” says Jamie. “No two hides are the same, so we have to inspect every single one. And you can’t do that without the human eye.”