This title seems like a warning for all the androids out there but instead this was the heading of the installation by Elizabeth Leriche at this year’s Maison & Objet.
‘Doing is thinking by hand. Today there’s a growing interest in a philosophy of manual production, an appreciation for the hand and a multitude of skills from yesterday.’
Leriche doesn’t mean nostalgia but a shared vision for a new alternative productive society that places on value on the process of acquiring talents, mastering skills, passing on crafts and customs in a new mood of inventiveness. Artisan luxury is no longer polished but has the imprint of the maker sometimes to the point of imperfection.
‘As the tool for a new luxury, the hand is touching and transforming things. From the alphabet of materials and grammar of crafts, neo-artisans’ expertise is putting together sensitive, rare items. Beyond their function, these works show a radical uniqueness. The art of making is frees the object from the norm so it can leave its mark in time.’
Neo-artisans, rare-items, radical uniqueness? It may be media speak but all could apply to the modern mastery of Cox London, a company founded by Christopher and Nicola Cox. Nicola is a sculptor working in bronze and glass, while Chris is a skilled metalwork restorer and lighting designer. Cox London is earning a reputation for artisan ingenuity, creating ambitious and award-winning objects and furniture in a private studio and workshop.
Ferro Vitro is a sculptural construction of iron and blown glass. Rooted in the tradition of modernist and constructivist art each piece is a unique freestyle drawing in space. The pockets of glass are hand blown into the cage like structures and when lit, project striking linear light and shadows. The framework is wrought in mild steel and traditionally patinated and lacquered to a deep black-bronze.
I don’t know how many human hands this took, but worth every pair.
Paris welcomes the design world this month.
Paris Deco Off is now in its 6th consecutive year. You can’t miss the Toucan, the brightly feathered figurehead bearing the theme – colour. It beckons us to visit the most famous editors and creators in international decoration at their showrooms in Paris on the left and right banks from the 22 – 26 January. Gigantic lamps will light the way and there are promises of a side order of cultural events and entertainment.
De Le Cuona is one of the 98 prestigious brands and a real highlight for textile lovers. Bernie de Le Cuona presents her new epic Rugged Elegance collection at the Galerie Nicolas Deman, 12 Rue Jacques Callot.
If Deco Off is a ‘tonic for the senses’ then you’ll need a vitamin shot for Maison et Objet, which runs from 23-27 January. This major lifestyle, design and decoration trade fair celebrates its 20th anniversary, so cakes all round. With over 3,000 exhibitors and 80,000 professional visitors we are talking vast. The theme this year is ‘making’ and this works beautifully with the likes of Ochre and FRONT London who are both showing at scènes d’intérieur, hall 7.
In the world of Ochre, the iterative process of making is as beautiful as the end product itself. Each design begins with learning the possibilities and limitations of a material, and understanding how to master techniques to create modern collectables. Ochre's individual commissions allow them to explore and experiment with materials, to adjust their methods and the scale and dimensions of their work.
And should you want to meet the most awarded rug designer in the world, then head to the FRONT London stand where Jan Kath will be showing his contemporary rugs that are hand-made by highly skilled weaves in Nepal, using a traditional high density knotting technique.
Goodness, I didn’t recognise Faye Toogood holding state on the front cover of the FT How to spend it magazine this weekend. What a glare. In times gone by I used to take fabrics to show her at The World of Interiors during the reign of Min Hogg.
Although Toogood isn’t a craftsperson, I do admire her mission to industrialise craftsmanship. She’s a designer who is reacquainting man and machine. In short bringing a fresh perspective to the design process.
I liked one of her answers in ‘the aesthete’ profile in the FT How To Spend it. ‘The last thing I bought and loved was a felted wool cardigan by Amy Revier. She hand weaves everything on her loom in Highgate.'
These common threads bring me to the subject of this week’s blog, Margo Selby. Selby develops and explores weave on her handloom. She then unites her innovative hand-woven structures with industrial machinery to create three-dimensional fabrics that have become her trademark.
She describes the weaving as slow and methodical. ‘The fabric grows, one row or pick at a time, giving contemplation time for design. Once I am happy with a fabric, often after many warps developing the idea, I can explore production with an industrial mill.’
The thing I’m eyeing next, is another question in ‘the aesthete.’ If asked, I would answer a hand woven-art work by Margo Selby. These paintings with yarn are exquisite abstractions in soft tonal shades in simple asymmetrical geometric shapes. Think Ben Nicholson’s June but instead of painted flatness, Margo’s compositions sing with woven texture.
Framed Lampas hand-woven artwork and Lampas weave development on loom.
For several years she has been building a portfolio of these hand woven designs using a technique called Lampas, which she learnt at Atelier National D’Art Textile in Paris.
I am reserving one before the words gets out…
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