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

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

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

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