Add some soul: handmade items go chic
Add crafted items – from high-end to high street – to bring a personal touch to the home, writes Emily Brooks
Craft is experiencing a boom in the interiors world. Top decorators are commissioning one-off pieces to bring a feeling of luxury to their schemes, while the high street can deliver handmade products at affordable prices so that everyone can create a home with a story to tell. Meanwhile, the internet has made it easier than ever to buy beautifully crafted objects from around the world.
Next week is London Craft Week, the fourth annual event celebrating craftsmanship from the UK and beyond. Demonstrations and workshops will satisfy those who are curious about how things are made; the prestigious Loewe Craft Prize at the Design Museum will showcase cutting-edge innovation and top global talent; and shops and galleries will be giving a special focus to their handmade offerings.
“A handmade item always has a story behind it – it’s unique and, through buying it, that continues into your home,” says Judith Harris, senior buyer at The Conran Shop. “In an era of throwaway goods and fad trends, the longevity and uniqueness of handmade brings great satisfaction to the owner.”
The Conran Shop is one of several retailers putting on special events, with a series of demonstrations from the likes of ceramicist Laurence Leenaert and Danish furniture company Carl Hansen.
Harris says this show of skill “enables our customers to really understand the time and energy that goes into creating handmade products. They can see that, unlike manufactured goods, each item is a one-off and takes time. By meeting the makers, the experience of owning a handmade item has more resonance.”
Heal’s is taking a similar approach with its collaboration with Craft Scotland: five makers will be travelling down to show their skills. “I always love seeing products being made, and find it endlessly fascinating,” says Hannah Thistlethwaite, senior buyer for home at Heal’s.
Even outside of London Craft Week, she says, “handmade products are a big part of what we do, especially in areas such as ceramics.”
The Tottenham Court Road shop regularly showcases work in its Collectibles section, including that of Japanese ceramicist Yuta Segawa, who makes miniature pots in a rainbow of colours, just a couple of inches tall. Thistlethwaite thinks there is a feelgood factor in owning a handmade object: “A greater connection to a product leads to a more considered and complete home.”
Craft is also playing a large part in redefining luxury interiors: it is celebrated as something special and desirable, and the time and skill that goes into it is revered.
Sophie Ashby, the interior designer, recently collaborated with five artisans as part of her work with the Upper Riverside development on the Greenwich Peninsula. From solid oak dining tables with raw-bark edges by Galvin Brothers to contemporary crocheted lighting by Naomi Paul, the collection is a snapshot of British talent.
Design firm Echlin put craft at the heart of the interior of a penthouse at Rathbone Square, which is on the market for £7.75million through Savills and JLL. For Sam McNally, Echlin’s cofounder and design director, this was partly to soften the size of Great Port- land Estates’ development, which covers more than two acres and has 142 apartments.
“Handmade pieces were really important to the design,” he says. “The site was extremely large, so we wanted to bring in some pieces at an attainable and human scale. A handmade bogoak and brass mobile, by east London designer Corrie Williamson, involved contrasting materials being beautifully balanced, which to us s seemed to encapsulate the e essence of the building itself.” f.” Echlin also worked with retailer and curator The New Craftsman, whose mission is to raise the profile of British artisans and make it easier for them to connect with buyers. At Rathbone Square, a wall panel of Laura Carlin’s ill lustrated tiles of London life, a ceramic vessel from Iva Polachova, and textiles from Georgia Kemball all provide those idiosyncratic and unusual details that turn ho houses into homes. M McNally says the boundary between art and craft has alway always been blurred, it’s just
‘In an era of fad trends, the longevity of handmade can bring great satisfaction’
RAINBOW BRIGHT Rattan bowls, £42, below, (kalinko.com); Joon-yong Kim’s work, far right, has been shortlisted for the Loewe Craft Prize entry
PRIZE OFFERING Takeshi Yasuda’s Qingbai Gold Bowl, a finalist in the Loewe Craft Prize