London’s most creative locations give themselves over to London Craft Week for a celebration of craftsmanship in Britain and beyond
Words Helen Brown
Design has one. Fashion has one. And since 2015, craft has had one too. Back for its fourth edition between 9-13 May, London Craft Week sees hundreds of locations around London give themselves over to the discovery and celebration of craftsmanship in every sector of making – from Britain and around the world. It invites the public into previously off-limits corners of the capital to reveal its most creative spaces. This year is its biggest, and most international event yet, bringing the world’s finest makers to London for a dynamic celebration of making in all its forms – from ceramics and fashion to watch-making and letterpress. Whether it’s an intimate hands-on workshop with a craftsman, an afternoon in a West End costume department, or behind-the-scenes introduction to the crafted interiors of an iconic building, there’s something for every field of interest.
Launched in 2015 and now in its fourth edition, London Craft Week is the only festival of its kind in the world. Its packed calendar of events includes behind-the-scenes demonstrations, hands-on craft workshops and a programme of talks, interviews and discussions featuring some of the most fascinating individuals working in global craft today. This year sees 49% of 2017’s participants returning for another edition, with 51% of the festival’s content being entirely new for 2018.
With 227 events, 70 exhibitions, 41 workshops, 87 talks and 61 live demonstrations, there is certainly something to suit all. Over the course of the week, you might learn the intricacies of Swiss horology, British millinery and Danish ceramics; blend your own fragrances, print your own books and craft your own tableware. There is also the opportunity to hear the stories behind crafted works and iconic luxury products direct from their makers. But this still only scratches the surface of what London Craft Week has to offer.
The disciplines represented range from jewellery and leathercraft to printmaking and carpentry, and involve both established makers of global standing – including the likes of Tom Dixon, Bill Amberg and Georg Jensen – and emerging talents on the cusp of their careers, such as the ceramic artist and Woman’s Hour Craft prize winner Phoebe Cummings, and the 2018 Arts Foundation Award winner and The New Craftsmen glassblower Jochen Holz.
With more than 275 taking part in this year’s festival, one of the core aims of London Craft Week is to celebrate and support the community of independent makers in Britain and beyond. By looking past the static beauty of an object to the dynamic story behind its making, London Craft Week aims to highlight and celebrate every dimension of craftsmanship: material and technique, talent and imagination. This year’s festivities are sponsored by dunhill and Purdey who have partnered to produce the Home of Craftsmanship: a creative hub and focal point for press and visitors, celebrating the craftsmanship and heritage integral to dunhill. Every room of Bourdon House will be transformed through a fascinating and immersive demonstration of craftsmanship, alongside a series of short films. Purdey is renowned for making the finest-quality shotguns, rifles and shooting equipment and this iconic British company brings the same attention to detail and craftsmanship to their clothing and accessories. For London Craft Week they will be hosting a series of demonstrations in their beautiful Audley House store.
Elsewhere, The AMAZING CHINA exhibition at the Hospital Club promising a fascinating overview of contemporary and traditional techniques and aesthetic philosophy, while Experience Kyoto at Nobu Hotel Shoreditch will shed light on Japan’s wabi-sabi making culture through regional crafts and cuisine. Many of Switzerland’s most revered small watchmaking houses – including Laurent Ferrier, Romain Gauthier, Ludovic Ballouard, De Bethune, Ferdinand Berthoud, Graham, H. Moser & Cie, and Moritz Grossmann – are brought together by William and Sons. And, across its stores in Chelsea, Marylebone and Selfridges, The Conran Shop hosts Global Market, gathering international makers such as Danish furniture designer Carl Hansen & Søn, Japanese ceramic miniaturist Yuta Segawa and Dartmoor lifestyle brand Feldspar, for live craft demonstrations and exhibitions of slip-casting, textile painting, cane weaving and more.
All of this, plus a series of meet-the-maker talks and interviews, exclusive exhibitions and one-off events at leading retailers, rare insights to some of the world’s most prestigious luxury brands and fashion houses and Behind-the-scenes access to some of London’s most iconic, off-the-beaten-track and otherwise unexplored locations.
Taking place across the city, some London Craft Week events and experiences are ticketed, most are free to attend and many are held on a drop-in basis. A full list of events can be found on the London Craft Week website. Authenticity is at the heart of London Craft Week and the programme aims to attract a broad audience united in their appreciation of imagination, individuality, passion and skill. It bridges iconic heritage and contemporary brands as well as independent makers and allows them to tell their stories. Each year, with the city as its backdrop, this week-long event shines a spotlight on artists and makers and celebrates a golden age of creative talent.
Various locations; londoncraftweek.com