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“Our orig­i­nal con­cept was to cu­rate craft-based prod­ucts from all across the world. Sourc­ing prod­ucts per­son­ally and lo­cally from the point of ori­gin was cru­cial, but the Ja­pan-Tai­wan spe­cial­ity had not come (to the UK) about yet,” says Chris, who met Sharon dur­ing their foun­da­tion de­grees at Chelsea Col­lege of Art. There­after, they co­in­ci­den­tally con­tin­ued their stud­ies to­gether at Cen­tral Saint Martins in Prod­uct De­sign.

The duo’s last projects at Cen­tral Saint Martins, in­volv­ing theth Tai­wanese abo­rig­i­nal cul­turec and wooden tableware forfo restau­rants led to their serendip­i­tiouss col­lab­o­ra­tion. It quiteq pos­si­bly also partly de­fined whatw Na­tive & Co is about to­day. It wasw dur­ing this time spent living withw the na­tive tribes of Tai­wan thatth Sharon and Chris man­aged to learn about the tribes’ craft spe­cial­ties,s tex­tile weav­ing, and wood­carv­ing.w

Soon af­ter the project, the keenk ob­servers re­alised there was ana ab­sence of Tai­wanese craft anda de­sign out­side the coun­try ofo ori­gin. This in­spired them to in­tro­du­cein ex­clu­sively sourced and well-cu­rat­edw home­ware prod­ucts forfo the UK. These are tra­di­tional craftsc from Tai­wan and Ja­pan which are also re­designed to suit con­tem­po­rary life­styles. Each prod­uct in Na­tive & Co is care­fully cho­sen based on aes­thet­ics and the way it is made. Sharon and Chris’s aim is also to make each prod­uct avail­able in two price ranges.

“We work with very small and of­ten fam­ily-run busi­nesses that spe­cialise in one par­tic­u­lar prod­uct in Tai­wan. Be that leather ware, can­vas ware, or bam­boo wood­work­ing, they are ex­perts in their field. We spend most of our time go­ing door-todoor and town-to-town to build re­la­tion­ships with the mak­ers. Whereas in Ja­pan, the hum­ble mak­ers are more fa­mil­iar with for­eign trad­ing and are more ap­proach­able. Ja­pan is much more or­gan­ised for prod­uct sourc­ing and is sim­pler to work with,” says Chris.

“Na­tive & Co has stuck as our name be­cause we be­lieve it is im­por­tant for us to be a Lon­don-based shop first, and not a Ja­panese shop that hap­pens to be in Lon­don. It is es­sen­tial for us to be both ap­proach­able and re­lat­able with­out be­ing in­tim­i­dat­ingly ex­otic and ori­en­tal,” ex­plains Chris. Na­tive & Co be­came the only shop in Lon­don/ UK to spe­cialise in both Ja­panese and Tai­wanese prod­ucts.

TOP Oak Serv­ing tray, Iga Ce­ramic tea cup, Bi­cy­cle bells, Whale knife (Sperm Whale), Whale knife (Rorqual Whale), and other prod­ucts in­clud­ing Alu­mite ket­tle.

BE­LOW PIC­TURED FROM RIGHT Lac­quered Maple bowl (M), Lac­quered Maple bowl with plate, Harimi Dust­pan Black Ce­ramic teapot with side han­dle (Round), and more from the Win­ter Col­lec­tion 2015-2016.

RIGHT Hand­bound us­ing Ja­panese Hemp Palm Shuru and sewn to­gether with cop­per wire and li­nen thread, this sturdy and durable indoor Ja­panese Palm broom with han­dle gen­tly changes shape over time.

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