Buying a new cushion is no easy task. Between lumpy fillings, scratchy fabric and uninspiring colours, they just don’t make them like they used to. It’s this realisation that led Jimmy Casson and Jane Davidson – first partners in life, now business partners at their interior design label Narrow Window – to create their own range of cushions (the good kind).
“We both struggled with finding good cushions,” Casson tells Broadsheet. “I have this vivid memory of the cushions my mum had when I was growing up – the really sturdy ones that fluff up and hold their shape. So I thought, ‘Hey, we should do cushions.’ And that was the birth of Narrow Window.”
Casson and Davidson spent countless hours designing the signature Narrow Window cushion cut. Now each piece is handmade in Melbourne in limited runs, and packed with a 100 per cent feather fill “for ultimate fluffability”. Fabric selection is curated from quality suppliers: an array of nostalgic yet contemporary colours and textures, all made to match. After the textiles are hand-cut, it’s time to wander down to their local haberdasher and select the perfect zip for each set. According to Davidson, “Nothing at Narrow Window is ever accidental”.
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The duo come to their business with many years of prior creative experience. Originally hailing from South London, Casson has been a multidisciplinary artist for more than 20 years, across music composition, design and furniture restoration. “As long as I’m making something, I’m happy,” he says. Davidson comes from a background in fashion, design and textiles, having worked for well-known brands and textile manufacturers like APC, District and Kvadrat Maharam.
Before launching Narrow Window at the start of 2021, Casson and Davidson spent their early years of dating attending auctions and “buying cool furniture”. “We knew we wanted to pair up and do something together,” Casson says. “The early incarnation of this was restoring furniture, but the second-hand market is saturated with people just giving the furniture a wipe down then reselling it with a higher mark-up, so it wasn’t sustainable for us. That’s kind of how we ended up at cushions.”
Not wanting to be known as just the cushion people, the duo decided to revisit furniture. They began collecting Mitzi chairs – designed by Australian furniture icon Grant Featherston – and restoring them to a contemporary standard through a process of reupholstering, repainting, attaching new dust covers and polishing. “We wanted to sell brand new pieces of furniture while keeping our footprint minimal, all through repurposing these gorgeous old frames,” Casson explains. “It’s very difficult to reproduce these now.”
Working under an ethos of constant evolution, the pair are already deep into planning their next projects, which will include more original design work, limited-edition custom furniture like dining chairs and bar stools, and hopefully some installation jobs. They’re also catching up on a backlog of more than 800 textile baubles, which were supposed to be gifts for customers but proved a pretty popular product among their followers on Instagram.
All of Narrow Window’s making is done at Casson and Davidson’s home studio in Sunshine in Melbourne’s west. The duo transformed what was once a run-down shed into a fully functional workshop, complete with custom shelves, a wood stove and enough space for all their tools. “If we didn’t have the opportunity to live and work in the same space, I don’t think we’d be able to work as fast,” Casson says.
“We also manage everything in-house, like graphic design and branding, and Jimmy composes all the music for our Instagram reels,” Davidson adds. “It helps keep our margins low, but it’s mostly because we love a challenge.”
The pair ventured into the world of bricks-and-mortar retail in mid-2023, opening a limited-time pop-up shop on St Kilda’s Fitzroy Street. They’ve since closed the shop, but it offered the opportunity for customers to hold their cushions and get a feel of the fabric and craftsmanship. “We’re only a two-person team, so it wasn’t feasible to keep the shop running for any longer,” Casson says. “I’m a big advocate for trying new things and having new experiences, and just ploughing through any difficulties we come across. That’s what Narrow Window is all about.”
This article first appeared in Domain Review, in partnership with Broadsheet.
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