LONDON CRAFT WEEK (3-7 May) is an annual event that showcases exceptional craftsmanship through a journey-of-discovery programme featuring hidden workshops and unknown makers alongside celebrated masters, famous studios, galleries, shops and luxury brands.
I write a few paragraphs each year about London Craft Week (LCW) but third time around I think this needs to extend to a good few pages as this timely show has grown beyond all expectations. The classy brochure landed this week with 120 pages covering over 200 events, which are gathered together in one place for one magical week. Here’s a quick edit.
Gilding first captured my imagination when reading about Clare Mosley’s Parisian apartment in Elle Decoration. I wanted to move in with her Eglomise glass gilded objects. If you want to explore gilding at LCW then head to OCHRE on Thursday 4 May, 3.30-4.30pm where Helen Chislett is in conversation with OCHRE and master gilder Katharine Knight. Katharine shows the stages of traditional water gilding and gold leaf technique on OCHRE’s new Surya light. This is the most beautiful and skillful of all the applied gold leaf techniques. The light has a hand-turned green oak shade where the natural cracks of the timber enhanced by slithers of 22-carat gold inspired by the ancient art of Kintsugi.
If you have a passion for process and in particular the lost-wax casting technique then you have something in common with Christopher and Nicola Cox, who continue to push the boundaries of materials: bronze; silver; wrought iron; blown glass and cast stone. These designer-makers talk to journalist Henrietta Thompson on Wednesday 3 May at 5pm, discussing how to commission handmade lighting and furniture. Take a design journey from the inspirations, original drawings and artisan techniques to the finished limited-edition piece.
Why slow design matters is answered at FRONT who believe that waiting a few months for a bespoke rug is something to be celebrated. Discover the techniques, materials and processes behind the most sought after rugs in the world. Writer and author Emma Crichton-Miller and FRONT’s Creative Director Aigars Zelmenis discuss how to commission handmade rugs by award-winning designers Jan Kath, Michaela Schleypen and Zoe Luyendijk on Thursday 4 May, 6.30 -7.30pm.
Design writer Barbara Chandler works with leading creative agency Design-Nation to present an exhibition of work by over twenty of their members. The exhibition runs from 4-7 May and is themed around marks and tools of the maker. It includes Margo Selby’s woven artworks. Don’t miss Barbara’s in conversation with Margo Selby, Michael Ruh and Hannah Tounsend.
Margo Selby is a champion of British craft whose experimental approach to woven textiles has won her world acclaim. One area that Margo is most excited by is her ‘paintings with yarn’. These are hand-woven artworks using a technique called Lampas, which she learnt at Atelier National D’Art Textile in Paris. Recently the scale and ambition of these designs has developed into larger scale framed artworks. Each piece displays her fascination with the interaction between colour, proportion, texture and weave.
Neisha Crosland’s distinctive designs for textiles, wallpaper, rugs, flooring, tiles, homes and fashion, have won her international fame. At LCW she talks pattern to Lucie Hague, founder of online platform Beyond Bespoke, and takes guests on a special behind-the scenes tour of her private studio, garden and home. Glean an insight into the evolution of a pattern, from an idea through the creative process to the finished product and receive a signed copy of her new book ‘Life of a Pattern’ on Thursday 4 May, 10am-12pm and 2-4pm.
In her story in Sunday times Home, Katrina Burroughs commented that ‘in the era of “buying less but better” craft is king.’
Fall under the spell of the handmade here
It’s incredible to think that over the next two years, wannabe entrepreneurs will launch up to 3.4m pop-up shops across the UK. I am all for these outfits who give creatives a real shop window on this consumer world of ours. My issue is that by the time the word gets out they have often popped off. I guess that’s the point.
One not to be missed is Fine Cell Work’s Christmas pop-up at 34 Great Windmill Street, London W1D 7LR open until 22 December, Monday to Saturday 10am – 7pm. The shop is supported by Kit Kemp, trustee, huge supporter and one of the collaborators of this pioneering prison charity and social enterprise.
“Embroidery requires a lot of heart, which inspired the heart-shaped oak-leaf design. This is what Fine Cell Work is all about helping prisoners in a constructive way – and I’m thrilled to support them.”
- Kit Kemp
Just around the corner from Kit Kemp’s Ham Yard Hotel is Fine Cell Work’s pop-up. Discover Kit Kemp’s exclusive soft furnishings in the form of her Fine Cell Work collaborations - cushions and lavender bags that make perfect presents that keep on giving for Christmas. Her ‘Heart of Oak’ design reflects her joyful sense of colour and love of embroidery. Other interior designer collaborators include Ben Pentreath, Melissa Wyndham, John Stefanidis while Daisy de Villeneuve vintage art cushions head fashionable line.
The Christmas pop-up has a great selection of hand-stitched cushions in fabulous themes. There are also aprons, lavender bags, decorations made from British wool and beautifully embroidered Sway bags and even cross-stitched Christmas cards.
Time, love and care go into making each item. They are produced in British prisons as part of Fine Cell Work’s rehabilitation programme that teaches needlepoint and embroidery to 450 prisoners each year, encouraging them to come out with new employable skills and the hope of a better future.
Pop into Fine Cell Work
34 Great Windmill Street, London W1D 7LR
Tel: 020 7931 9998
Christmas gifts and decorations also available online
It is just me or is Christmas getting earlier? Four festive film channels aired on the first of November and I am already weary of Monty and Mabel and penguin hash tags. Call me cynical, but that Penguin has already sold out at JL and is now going on EBay for £500. I certainly don’t want a bit of Monty in my Christmas.
But what I do want is more of the Pentreath & Hall’s of this world. It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas now in Bloomsbury, and next Thursday 4th December seems just the right time for the festive shopping evening.
The beauty of Pentreath & Hall is the deeply discerning aesthetic of the team behind it. Together, architectural designer Ben and artist Bridie have created one of the most keenly watched stores in the London decoration world.
The Christmas shop is now open and where else can you buy crackers lovingly handmade in Dorset covered in Judd Street Papers or wrappings based on stone floor and marble patterns by the great 18th century designer Batty Langley, and re-imagined by Pentreath & Hall? Bridie Hall’s handmade candles are now available in gift boxes with a new Covert fragrance that evokes the green smells of the forest, of pine branches and mossy banks. The shop has the best collection of decoupage in the country and toys – well, there are musical spinning wheels, vintage locomotives and that Educated Monkey must be one of the funniest ways to learn your times tables.
For those unable to visit the shop there is an excellent website and deliveries of handsomely wrapped brown paper parcels are made worldwide.
Pentreath & Hall
17 Rugby Street
London WC1N 3QT