A FORMER HR executive who traded the corporate world to work in furniture is immortalising northern towns in doodle map cushions.

Lee Smith, who hails from Blackburn, set up the West Didsbury-based Loose Button firm after working for a Swiss pharmaceutical company.

The business has now produced a cushion in honour of his home town to go alongside other locations in the North West and beyond.

The Blackburn cushion features icons such as World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty and Red or Dead founder Wayne Hemingway as well as landmarks such as the town hall and Corporation Park.

Mr Smith and Mr Gee have since produced cushions showing maps of Manchester, Salford, Didsbury and the Northern Quarter as well as Sale, York, Stockport, Leeds and Liverpool in the black and white doodle style.

The high-end furniture designer and upholsterer first teamed up with artist David Gee, who is known as Dave Draws, to produce a Manchester City doodle map cushion.

Anthony Rawson, who owns a Manchester City merchandise website, helped them bring the idea to market.

The friends took the design on to a footstool and produced a larger version before introducing other merchandise such as mugs, prints and tea towels.

Understandably keen to avoid accusations of football favouritism in a soccer-mad city, they have also been sure to produce a Manchester United version.

Mr Smith, 39, who grew up in Livesey, used to work for Blackburn Rovers and now lives in central Manchester, said the cushions were an important part of the Loose Button business, which he started two years ago.

He said: “It is sustaining the business. The business is good, it is growing. We are hoping to take on a couple of people in the near future.”

The next step for the company in terms of the cushions is a general design for the north of England, while there are also plans for one of the capital.

The doodle map scatter cushion is described as ‘an addition to add a quirky touch to your living room’.

All the doodle cushions are handmade in the company’s Manchester studio.