Feature
Artisanal Aspirations

Masters of the Craft

Meet the new wave of artisans bringing traditional craft practices to the world of contemporary design

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@LibertyLondon

Whether it’s a backlash against the digital age, a push for sustainability or simply a restored predilection for tactile art forms, artisanal craft is having something of a moment. Providing the foundations for LOEWE’s seminal exhibition This is Home, traditional techniques and skills have re-entered the public consciousness, while workshops across the country are fuelling a move towards back-to-basics creativity. With a new wave of artisans tipped as the future of design, we throw a spotlight on the small-scale crafts that are big on inspiration.

Emma LaceyTaking a hands-on approach to artisanal ceramics, North London-based artist Emma Lacey spins her pastel-hued mugs with a tactile charm that leaves its mark long after the kiln has gone cold.

"The Everyday Range is hand-thrown in my studio and each piece is carefully manipulated while the clay is still soft. The dent serves as a reminder of the malleable nature of the raw material, clay as well as providing an ergonomic and tactile form when fired."

“It is important to support traditional crafts as we can learn so much from them both on social and individual levels. They talk about the histories of peoples and the expression and workmanship of individuals. Making by hand connects our hands to our brains giving us a haptic understanding of the world.”

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“Artisan talks about a certain amount of expertise in hand making. Making multiples as I do means I get a lot of practice and so the making process can become almost automatic and unconscious. I never measure the pieces as I throw them, I just trust my hand and eye to know what to do.“

Emma Lacey

Esmie From graphic designer to gatekeeper of traditional craft, Esmie’s Kim Harrup-Brook supports age-old binding and printing techniques by creating unique stationery, immersed in art forms from across the globe.

“We specialise in producing hand-crafted products using traditional bookbinding methods - using only the finest materials - specifically sourced for their beauty, unique tactile qualities and sustainability. Most prominently - we work with family-run studios in Kyoto, Japan to produce our covering materials.”

“Every craft holds a rich history from the culture it was derived from - each artisan/craftsman is a custodian of the knowledge and skill of that craft. These traditional skills inspire creativity and innovation across industries, cultures, and geographical boundaries.”

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“The term 'artisan' to me is a desire to inspire and excite through craftsmanship. It is a dedication and passion to reviving and continuing time-honored traditions - to create a beautiful hand-made object that is admired and treasured for years to come.”

Esmie

TRUSSMeet the Manhattan brand connecting under-served artisans to a discerning pack of followers. Collaborating with Oaxacan weavers on a line of ornate hand-woven accessories, TRUSS’ framework is solid, built around ethical production and enviable aesthetics.

“We're designing within an existing vernacular so TRUSS is ultimately a collaboration between the artisans who weave the bags in the Oaxaca sierra and the women at our workshop in Oaxaca City. As we propose new styles, patterns, or techniques they respond with adjustments and parameters that ultimately brings a contemporary, yet distinctly Oaxacan product.“

“The artisanal technique is all about tradition, story, and the legacy of hand-woven goods. An artisan embodies all these things.“

“Beyond the artisan communities, we also support Fondo Guadalupe Musalem - a foundation that supports the education of indigenous Oaxacan girls.”

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“Our goal is to have the Oaxacan weaving technique and other artisanal techniques of Mexico be recognised on a luxury level. Each bag takes between one and seven days to hand-weave, a technique that takes years to learn how to master, we're proud to be a part of keeping this tradition alive by working alongside the communities in a socially conscious and supportive way. Beyond the artisan communities, we also support Fondo Guadalupe Musalem - a foundation that supports the education of indigenous Oaxacan girls.”

TRUSS

Denis ColombFor French knitwear aficionado Denis Colomb, travel is vital. Now designed and crafted from his LA studio, his coveted hand-loomed scarves first grew from experimentation with Mongolian cashmere and, as the brand gained momentum, the designer looked outwards for inspiration, traveling the globe in search of the finest materials and techniques. Captivated by the artistry of Nepal’s crafting community, he spurs his creativity through frequent visits, channeling the nation’s artisanal heritage and a keen sense of precision – indicative of his past life as an architect – into beautifully crafted collections steeped in global awareness.

“Each piece I design is made by hand; hand-spun, hand-woven and hand-dyed. Everything is of course hand-loomed.”

“It is my mission to preserve this way to proceed using the knowledge of those amazing weavers and to support them - the beauty of learning the handmade craft.”

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“My work is only artisanal. I had a chance to meet the best weavers ever in Kathmandu, Nepal.”

Denis Colomb

Grain & KnotSculpting reclaimed timber into meticulously honed chopping boards and tableware, artisan woodworker Sophie has turned her love of nature into an art form, working from her London home studio to restore an element of beauty to functional forms.

"My making process is fairly slow - the process can’t be rushed as you are using sharp knives. If I was to slip I could cause injury - or worse ruin the item that I am making. I use twi knives to create the items that I make and I use a bandsaw to cut the timber down to size. Everything is hand carved then checked for quality before being oiled."

“It is important to support traditional crafts not only to keep aspects of production alive but also to have variation from the typical mass produced items that are available.”

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"Artisan to me is something that has been considered from start to finish; thinking about the packaging, production and end user. Artisan is a high quality handmade item that won’t go out of trend or feel dated."

Grain & Knot
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