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Craft the Leather: announced the winner of the ninth edition

The winner of the ninth edition of the competition Craft the Leather, a project partnering the Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium and international schools with a culture of making, is Wout Speyers from René Van den Berg Academy (Hoofddorp – Netherlands) with the collection “The World is a Natural Product”.

The evaluations expressed by the Technical Jury were added to the votes of the visitors collected at Lineapelle and on the Consortium’s social media to determine the winner.

After his participation in the workshop in Tuscany, Wout Speyers presented a capsule collection made up of three accessories that inspire to “travel with the essentials“, made entirely of vegetable tanned leather provided by member companies. In particular:

The “Go lightly”, multifunctional travel bag where the silhouette of the doctor’s bag and the leather bicycle saddle come together.

In this bag – explains Speyersonly materials are used that belong to our natural equilibrium; (wet molded) leather, (bent) lightweight airplane plywood and cork.

But there is another message: live lightly, travel light and take time for reflection. To integrate the subconscious into everyday life.”

Double shoes is the innovative proposal of a modular shoe consisting of an Oxford model upper and a slipper. Efficient, multifunctional and a hidden incentive to sometimes take a step back to enjoy a tranquility.

The World Map where the continents, sewn entirely by hand and in relief, highlight the versatility of the vegetable-tanned leather and the art of the Master craftsmen: “There is a place where respect has been part of everyday life. In Tuscany artisans have been producing leather since the Middle Ages. Vegetable tanned leather, without heavy metals and chemicals. Naturally gentle and persistent.   It’s time to end the game with the earth and put the world on a pedestal”, Wout Speyers added.

The Tuscan Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium awards a cash prize to the winner as a contribution to continuing his education.

Wout Speyers (1968 Nijmegen, the Netherlands) studied Architecture and Industrial Design Engineering at the University of Technology in Delft, the Netherlands. Both specialties were needed in his graduation project of 1996; he designed the museum for historic posters at the Spuiplein subway station in the Hague, which is still in use. At Neonis Industrial Design he discovered his love for furniture while working on the Personal Furniture System, PFS. In the USA he further specialized in casegoods and cabinetry as Director of Product Development for Goelst USA Inc. in Winston-Salem, NC. The mailsorting desk he developed for the IRS is still being used by thousands of federal employees in the USA.

Once back in the Netherlands Wout started to work for the product development department of Pastoe, a famous hundred year old company. Pastoe specializes in cabinetry. He worked on realisation of the Maarten van Severen chairs and redesigned the low-board Frame.

Since 2008 Wout has succesfully designed tables, chairs and sofas in his studio.

In 2019 a long-cherished dream came true when he started the education Artisanal Shoemaking at the René van den Berg Academy. Right after finishing his first shoe commissions followed for ladies and men’s shoes.


Craft The Leather is a training project of the Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium, by invitation only, dedicated to a group of talented designer/makers from all over the world. The schools, selected from among the most prestigious and innovative international fashion and design institutes, participate with a teacher and their most promising student.

The project is divided into two phases with a training workshop in the summer of 2022 in the Tuscan Tanning District, to learn about the qualities and potential of a leather treated according to a centuries-old tradition. In the second half of the year each designer created a collection of accessories using exclusively Vegetable tanned leather in Tuscany.

Project Tutor

Diane Ellen Becker Creative consultant, who has worked in the all aspects of the specialty leather business from visual merchandiser and buyer to designer of high-end leather goods and shoes, specializing in international trend research, consultancy for brand identity and educational activities, both to fashion/design professionals and educational institutes.

Edition 2022/23

Jury Members

  • Bill Amberg – Founder of Bill Amberg Studio an industry leader in bespoke leather products, interiors and furniture. Bringing together designers and artisans from the worlds of saddlery, case-making, bookbinding and other forms of fine leathercraft, the studio has a mission to explore the aesthetic and material possibilities of leather.
  • Antonella Bertagnin – Creative director and “Trend Selection” coordinator at Lineapelle, she is today considered to be one of the foremost and most trusted Italian trend forecasters in the field of footwear and leather goods.
  • Mark Emmett – Highly experienced in all aspects of the footwear industry, from technical and bespoke to development of international industry projects. He has worked in footwear education in the UK and Italy.
  • Kathleen Grevers Educator of vast experience, Rhode Island School of Design, Ars Sutoria, Lorenzo di Medici, specialized in International Formation for Fashion and Design programs, withspecial focus on sustainable and ethical principles of her work with Fashion Revolution.
  • Chau Har Lee – Based in London, graduate of Cordwainers and RCA, she works as a consultant to the luxury footwear industry. She has worked at Bally, Nike, Saint Laurent, and head of women’s shoes Balmain.
  • Faye Sevilla Smith – Creative vision and hands behind the innovative hand lasted shoe company SevillaSmith. Her background in cinematic costume design coupled with a strong pragmatic and ethical standard makes her work and network of makers stand out in the industry.
  • Liza Snook – Shoe collector, founder of the Virtual Shoe Museum (the online museum – a renowned platform for shoe designers and shoe lovers) and curator of exhibitions and events all over the world. Besides the exhibitions, she scouts talent, helps designers to promote their work, judges at design colleges and works as image researcher for international publishers.


Hannah Andregassen – NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti – Italy

Gonçalo Camboa – Central Saint Martins – United Kingdom (2° place)

Lea Katrin Ellemann – Amsterdam Fashion Institute – The Netherlands

Mirko Michelacci – ISIA Design – Italy

Jennifer Sims – Royal College of Art – United Kingdom

Wout Speyers – René Van den Berg Academy – The Netherlands (Winner)

Marie With – Kolding Design School – Denmark (3° place)