Top 10 London Craft Week picks
words Tamsin Blanchard
Photographs Andy Donohoe
There’s so much to do and see during London Craft Week – a whole world of workshops, talks, physical experiences and glimpses into the possibilities of a more mindful, creative life. You will need to be strategic. Spend an evening perusing the programme and make sure you book as some of the places are limited.
Waste – whether from our own kitchens, or from bigger industrial projects, is one of the major challenges of our time. Finding ways to utilize our waste creatively (as well as reduce it in the first place) is a priority for us all. That’s why I’m intrigued to see what Monica Cass of par-avion and Claire Potter of Claire Potter Design will be presenting with their large-scale installation at Battersea Power Station, weaving construction waste from the Phase II site into a structure that will engage visitors to think about the possibilities of industrial waste that would otherwise end up in landfill.
Battersea Power Station Presents: Woven Waste – A Second-Life Installation from a Regenerating Site.
Visit the installation, and hear the designers talk about how the construction industry can clean up its act.
9 May 10:00 – 11:30
Ok, so you might not actually find yourself a patron (or a maker to become a patron of) but the nurturing of relationships between patron and maker has never been more necessary. Join the New Craftsmen for a panel discussion on how craft patronage enables innovation with Kit Kemp (Design Director, Firmdale), Tord Boontje (Industrial Designer), Janice Blackburn (former Curator of Contemporary Craft and Design at Sotheby’s) and Charlotte Kingsnorth whose poetic patinated bronze furniture collection, Processing Lichen, you will also be able to view.
8 – 11 May 11:00 – 18:00
Talk, 9 May 18:30 – 20:30
The studios of two makers at the Sarabande Foundation, established by Lee Alexander McQueen to support the most visionary creatives of the future, will be replicated to showcase their extraordinary work and craftsmanship. In a commission set by the foundation’s founding partner, Ketel One the Dutch vodka distillery, (a perfect example of patronage encouraging innovation) the master engraver Castro Smith (read about his hole-and-corner in the current issue of the magazine) has created a hand-engraved copper vessel that explores the creative journey of an object and its maker.
Both makers started their commissions with a trip to the Ketel One distillery in Schiedam that has been run by eleven generations of the Nolet family. The brief was designed to reflect shared values of family, creativity, quality and passion. For the jeweller Esna Su, that resulted in a piece of work that focuses on wheat, from the careful process of distilling vodka, to the representation of human life, fertility and bread – essential parts of life. Her sculptural piece is made using copper wire and traditional crochet and weaving techniques learnt from her Turkish mother and grandmother. Each piece takes over 30 hours to complete. “This technique of weaving is gruelling and can be painful – in the past I have temporarily lost the use of my index fingers,” she said. “The process of making and dedication to the final product is an important part of this project.”
This is a chance to explore the studios and processes of two highly original talents.
A Ketel Boiling with Ideas featuring Castro Smith and Esna Su is at Sarabande Foundation, 22 Hertford Road, London N1
8 – 10 May 10:00 – 18:00
11 – 12 May 12:00 – 16:00
Paul Smith loves to display things in multiples and his new project with the forward-thinking heritage craft ceramics brand Stoke-on-Trent 1882 Ltd is the perfect example. At the outset of the project, Smith went on a tour of the pottery which has been co-founded by Emily Johnson and her father Chris who has sixty years’ experience in the pottery industry, and was inspired by seeing a kiln stacked with plates. He has created a collection of contemporary ceramics that are not what they seem. Applying his signature design twist, Smith’s stripy ‘stacks’ of plates and bowls are in fact vases. The full height ‘stack’ has forty different colours. You can see them in all their glory at Paul Smith no.9 Albemarle Street – a great opportunity to visit his global flagship, home to rare furniture sourced from around the world.
Booking not necessary, free
8 May 10:00 – 18:00, 9 – 11 May 10:00 – 19:00, 12 May 12:00 – 18:00
Making time for repairs is restorative for both your clothes and your soul. Celia Pym is the queen of visible mending, and her talk and workshop is a must-do in this inspirational series of workshops themed ‘Exploring Wellbeing Through Making’ at Craft Central. Other highlights include a Saori weaving workshop and Asha Buch’s talk on Wellbeing through Ethical Practice in Textiles, a short history of the Gandhian approach to handcrafts, local and sustainable practices from India.
Exploring Wellbeing Through Making at Craft Central
The Varana store on Dover Street, a hub for contemporary Indian craft-based textile and fashion design, will be bringing to life the vision of its founder Sujata Keshavan with the Varana Collective, the work of six cutting edge design studios working in India including exquisitely made objects and furniture by Case Goods, Rooshad Shroff, Sandeep Sangaru, Neeru Kumar, Tiipoi and Material Immaterial.
I’m looking forward to attending two talks by Tiipoi the London-based design studio specialising in Indian design. The Object will focus onhow we read history as told through the objects we collect and The Craft on how to expand the western-centric canon within craft-based practice.
There will also be a weaving demonstration in the store throughout the week highlighting the weaving of Jamdani; Threads of wind by Sayan Chanda. Inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Jamdani weavers are highly respected and take great pride in their heritage. It will be an honour to see the weaving process up close.
Varana, 14 Dover Street, W1
Talk, 8 and 9 May 18:00 – 20:00
Exhibition, Demonstration 8 – 11 May, 10:00 – 19:00
As afternoon tea is one of my favourite activities (if you can call it an activity) in the whole world, I won’t be missing this opportunity to sip some of the finest teas ( a selection of over 25 tea blends and infusions) from the finest cups and saucers, still made using the extraordinary technical expertise passed on through the decades at Europe’s oldest porcelain factory for Meissen. A bit of a treat at £55 (there’s champagne too). Pure decadence at the Oscar Wilde Lounge the Hotel Café Royal.
Afternoon Tea 8 – 10 May 13:00 – 16:00; 11 and 12 May 12:00 – 17:30
Felicity Irons, one of the last of the English bulrush weavers, is truly a force of nature. You can read about her bulrush weaving practice and her company Rushmatters in Hole & Corner issue 10. This is a rare opportunity to meet Felicity and learn some of her ancient techniques to weave a basket of your own. This will be an all-day workshop so you will actually learn something! Felicity will be in conversation with Katie Fontana, co-founder of British Standard Cupboards.
£60 including lunch
Workshop, 10 May 10:00 – 17:00
I was trying to keep this list to eight events, but I can’t resist adding this one too. Join the master embroiderers Hand & Lock and designer Yinka Llori to make a piece of digital embroidery. Ilori will bring his unique colour palette to help you to design a tile that is all about you, with the chance to feature in a physical tapestry embroidered by Hand & Lock. How exciting to contribute to this communal tapestry piece – and to meet Yinka and Hand & Lock’s team in the process.
Apple Regent Street
Demonstration and Workshop, 8 May 18:30
Ok, let’s make it ten events. The influential, award-winning, no-hyperbole-is -too-much graphic designer Sascha Lobe will be talking about his work and his commission to design the first-ever corporate identity for the Bauhaus-Archiv Museum. He has designed five limited-edition Bauhaus-inspired prints which will be live silk-screen printed by Make-ready and available in the Chelsea Conran Shop for as long as stocks last – which won’t be long. These will literally be hot off the presses.
The Conran Shop, 81 Fulham Road, London, SW3 6RD
Free, but booking necessary
9 May 18.30