British Craftsmanship is coveted by the world and celebrated as one of the ancient European treasures. To support and protect it, London Craft Week was born, an annual event which showcases fine craftsmanship over a journey-of-discovery program featuring peculiar workshops and unknown makers alongside celebrated master artisans, renowned studios, art galleries, shops and luxury brands.
“London has long had a Fashion Week and a Design Festival (London Design Week). Now there is London Craft Week. A magical combination of imagination, individuality, passion and skill found in the best-made of things”, said Guy Salter, the Chairman of London Craft Week. He even clarified, “London Craft Week is a response to a renaissance in the appreciation of creativity and craft; to the role of hand, head, unique skills and true talent. It is another example of what, at its best, the world’s creative capital does so well – mixing glamour with cutting edge; heritage and contemporary and the commercial with the cultural“.
At London Craft Week, relevant themes of today’s contemporary world are discussed. For example, in 2017, the founder of luxury emporium William & Son, William Asprey, debated with Dr. Jana Scholze, course director of the Curating Contemporary Design MA at Kingston University, and Frederick Goetzen, an authority in luxury PR and communications, about the challenges British craftsmanship faces today and its possible future.
William & Son continuously supports British craftsmen. This first-class brand offers exquisite collections from jewellery and handbags to board games and guns, most of which can be custom made. “Real luxury is being able to give people exactly what they want,” Mr Asprey explained, “so craftsmanship is imperative in what we do”.
Thanks to its talented master artisans, the company is able to offer a service’s level which is hard to obtain even for many luxury brands. Mr Asprey owns three expert workshops around the United Kingdom, however, he alone can’t ensure that all precious traditions thrive.
It is crucial that the admiration for the finest craftsmanship is nurtured to inspire future generations to learn more and get involved in these highly specialized fields. Not only teaching creativity to children in schools but also educating customers must be the goal and storytelling is the key to that. “Through craftsmanship, you are telling a story about what makes an object valuable – rather than just presenting it for its value,” Mr Asprey clarified. A creative customer who is encouraged to touch and feel a piece in the store is much more likely to understand the craft process than through a web page.
Projects such as A Celebration of British Craftsmanship, a book which shows us the behind the scenes of the dedicated lives of some of the craftsmen that the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) supported, are also essential.
Founded by the Royal Warrant Holders Association, on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s 90th Birthday, QEST’s mission remains the same today as it did at its inauguration in 1990: to maintain Britain’s cultural heritage by supporting excellence in British craftsmanship through funding the training and education of talented and aspiring craftsmen.
From armourer to basket makers; block-printer to ceramicists; a calligrapher to silversmiths; a charcoal burner to milliners; to stone carvers, weavers and so much more, from the traditional to the contemporary, QEST encourages true skill, knowledge, respect for traditions and innovation.
Undoubtfully, there is a bright future for Britain’s traditional crafts and techniques if luxury brands, associations and the government keep on funding incredible projects to raise the quality level of clothing, accessories, watches, jewellery, silverware and homeware designs, among others.
Brilliant British Designers, Master Artisans and Artists
Max Lamb was born in 1980 and he is a British designer who combines traditional and ancient craftsmanship techniques with digital design. He is known for using highly uncommon approaches to natural materials, including pouring pewter onto sand, and volcanic rock. He is also known for his energetic and long-lasting methods of production.
Lamb was born in Cornwall in 1980 and became interested in design at a very young age. He was raised by the countryside, so nature is truly vital to him. He attended Amersham & Wycombe College for art and design in 2000 where he received several awards. He also received a City and Guilds Photography Certificate in 2000. He later attended Northumbria University, receiving a degree in Three Dimensional Design. In 2006 he achieved his master’s degree in design products from the Royal College of Art. A year later he started teaching Industrial Design at Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne in Switzerland, and later also taught at the Royal College of Art.
See also: Glassworks Design by Maison Saint Louis
Lee Broom is one of the UK’s foremost product designers and a premium global design brand. With his highly innovative luxury furniture and lighting designs, his work is celebrated and retailed across the globe.
Since 2007, when his company was born, he created over 100 furniture, accessory and lighting pieces, all of which are designed, manufactured and retailed under the Lee Broom brand. He also collaborated with several other top global brands including Christian Louboutin, Mulberry, Bergdorf Goodman and Wedgwood.
Lee Broom’s wonderful designs can be seen in hotels, restaurants and homes across the world as well as on magazine covers and in newspapers internationally. His masterpieces are both unique yet familiar as he uses classic styles and reinterprets them in original and contemporary ways with an unexpected edge.
Taking inspiration from his background in fashion design, Lee tries to embrace and explore new themes while keeping his predominant and unique style. Using the highest quality materials, combined with the latest technology, Lee Broom constantly evolves and innovates, resulting in his signature, a mix of classicism and modernity.
David Collins Studio is an award-winning interior architecture atelier which creates creative and inspirational designs, residential and retail projects worldwide. It is a globally renowned brand and an expert in contemporary luxury design.
Established in 1985, The Studio collaborates with luxury brands and businesses which represent the best in their field, and with private clients that share its fascination with detail, craft and refinement. Based in London, The Studio organized projects across five continents, including The Wolseley, The Connaught Bar and Harrods Shoe Heaven in London, Gleneagles in Scotland, The Ritz-Carlton Residences at MahaNakhon in Bangkok, and The Delaire Graff Estate in South Africa.
Jim Partridge and Liz Walmsley are internationally considered as two of the best British artists sculpting in wood. They use organic materials, such as oak wood, and give them a solid, dramatic aesthetic and an authentic beauty with woodworking techniques. They are two of the finalists in the 2019’s Loewe Craft Prize.
Eleanor Lakelin, one of the best European master artisans, is a London based artist dedicated to wood sculpture who grew up in a rural area of Wales immersed in nature. This understanding and love for natural materials transformed her artistic life.
She loves wood, its history and origin and the fact that it is a living material. She has spent many years perfecting form and experimenting with how the properties of wood can be used to express the rhythm of time and our relationship with the earth.
Eleanor exhibits a lot of her precious art pieces internationally and her artworks won many awards and commendations. Her wood sculptures are present in numerous prestigious collections worldwide.
Suffolk’s glass artist Laura Hart, one of the best master artisans in Europe, brings to life fine glass sculptures and functional glass tableware from her studio in rural Cavendish. She specializes in fused and kiln formed glass orchids, glass wildflowers and meticulously detailed fused and cast glass butterflies. Laura’s work brings several traditional glass making techniques together with the addition of sterling silver for anatomical detail. She focuses on fused glass production uniting 21st-century 3D design applications with ancient glassmaking techniques.
Amanda Simmons is one of the best European glasswork master artisans. She is based in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland. After her first career as a clinical perfusionist, Amanda undertook studies in glass and architecture at Central St Martins School of Art in London and set up her studio near Castle Douglas in 2006. Currently, her work is influenced by research at Lyth Arts Centre in Caithness with scientists based at the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso.
See also: Glassworks Design by Maison Saint Louis
The glassworker James Devereux, one of the best master artisans in Europe, started to train in glass sculpture at the age of 15 and discovered a natural talent for this craft. James specializes in working with hot glass, creating solid forms as well as blown pieces. Over the years, he acquired a vast knowledge of glass working techniques and is always happy to undertake new challenges.
In 2008, James opened his first studio in the Wiltshire countryside. He became a glass technician at the Royal College of Art in London in 2009, a position that he held until 2013. After leaving London in the same year, he started a studio with Katherine Huskie in the British countryside. James’s mastery of numerous skills and his high technical level contributed to the creation of unique and innovative works. His latest collection of Clovis works can be viewed at Vessel Gallery London.
One of the best European master artisans dedicated to glass sculpture, Alison Lowry is a glass artist from Northern Ireland who specializes in the ancient glass casting technique of pâte de verre. Originally from a textile background, Alison started working with glass and fell in love with it as an expressive yet challenging material.
Renowned Art Galleries in the United Kingdom
The London’s Gallery FUMI in Mayfair treasures its handcrafted works of art created with the finest methods in fascinating workshops. Despite using ancient techniques like carving, glassblowing, cabinetry, lacquering, meticulous hand assemblage, the designers never forget to marry it with new technologies. FUMI not only values visual beauty but also tactile sensation. Marrying the past, the present and the future of art is its true goal.
Established in 2008 by directors Sam Pratt and Valerio Capo, the gallery focuses on sophisticated, conceptually and aesthetically bold contemporary designers and artists, always valuing craftsmanship, traditional techniques and revolutionary new technologies.
Carpenters Workshop Gallery creates and showcases functional sculptures by international rising and already established artists and designers breaking the boundaries of traditional art. The gallery promotes the research and manufacture of the limited edition works exhibited.
Carpenters Workshop blossomed from the partnership of Julien Lombrail and Loic Le Gaillard. They first opened a space in London’s Chelsea in 2006 in a former carpenter’s workshop; which was followed with a second space in Mayfair in 2008.
In the United Kingdom, Adrian Sassoon is seen as the leader in contemporary ceramics, glass, silver and jewellery. It supports the finest exclusive designs and showcases them at the best international art fairs. This art gallery dedicates itself mostly to represent UK-based plastic artists and master artisans. However, it also included notorious Japanese, Australian and Italian designers. Its focus on decorative art and antique French porcelain are remarkable. Innovative, luxurious, exquisite handcrafted art pieces have their home at the gallery.
Created in 1998 in London, Sarah Myerscough Gallery promotes technical and aesthetic innovations within the contemporary visual arts by breaking down restrictions between fine art, craft, design and architecture.
The multidisciplinary gallery supports and promotes excellence and skill in several fields, with a special focus on woodworking. The gallery represents emerging and established international artists and designers exhibiting in major galleries and museums, while it continues to establish its presence at art fairs around the world, such as PAD London.
Achille Salvagni was born in Rome in 1970. In 2002, he founded Achille Salvagni Architetti and gained a worldwide appreciation for his award-winning luxury residences.
In 2013, alongside his architectural practice, he founded Achille Salvagni Atelier, a studio devoted to the production of his limited-edition furniture and lighting. Following the success of the Atelier in both Italy and the USA, Salvagni opened Achille Salvagni Atelier at 12 Grafton Street in Mayfair to showcase his latest creations.
The London Atelier was born from a selection of Salvagni’s iconic pieces and it places them in an intimate domestic environment allowing collectors and design enthusiasts to experience in person the exquisite craftsmanship needed to bring to life each piece.
Using only the noblest materials (mahogany, rosewood, royal oak, laurel, onyx, bronze and gold, just to name a few), the masterpieces are created by Rome’s most talented master artisans, treasured for their expertise in traditional techniques.
Continuing this legacy, even the smallest details of the Atelier’s works are the result of never-ending attention to detail, authentic craftsmanship and historical reflection, from the patina selection to custom door handles and hinges.
Stay with us to find out more about the best of craftsmanship around the world.
See also: Glassworks Design by Maison Saint Louis