Running until 7th May 2017, the third edition of London Craft Week took up residence in the capital. This annual event showcased the very best international and British creativity and craftsmanship through a “beyond luxury” journey-of-discovery. The curated programme brought together over 230 events from all corners of the globe fusing food, fashion, design, art, culture and luxury. From The Shard to The House of Lords, hidden studios to Mayfair stores and bustling workshops to Michelin starred restaurants, London Craft Week spread across the capital’s iconic buildings, influential institutions and off-the-beaten track side streets, many of which are not normally open to the public.
International content included wood carvers from Japan, artisans from Korea, wood block printers from China, ceramists from Taiwan, umbrella makers from France, porcelain painters from Germany, glass artists from Sweden, furniture makers from Denmark and a guitar maker from Spain. The 2017 programme covered a total of 55 disciplines from boat-building to silvermithing, watchmaking to glass-blowing, book-binding to steam bending and even the Japanese art of Kintsugi. This year, London Craft Week also had a special focus on Scotland’s creativity, with Scottish tailoring, weaving and woodworking demonstrations. The aim was to experience beautiful things not just as static objects but in the full context in which they were created, highlighting how imagination and talent combine with the very best materials and techniques.
From Korea, The Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation is a non-profit private organisation that aims to identify and enhance the essence and beauty of traditional Korean culture. Showing in the UK for the first time, they hosted an exhibition featuring Korean vessels and table settings based on their research into craftsmanship, which is instrumental in imparting the Korean virtue of a healthy and beautiful culture of cuisine in daily life. Meanwhile, the Korean Craft and Design Foundation presented “Between Serenity And Dynamism,” an exhibition which plays an important role in developing a global awareness and understanding of Korea’s rich craft and design heritage.
Some of the world’s most creative brands opened the doors to their workshops, studios and factories, giving visitors behind-the-scenes insights to the techniques and skills that go into their products. Aston Martin demonstrated how they create clay scale models of cars, Vacheron Constantin’s in-house master watchmaker and engraver demonstrated their skills, and an evening at Vivienne Westwood’s couture boutique enabled visitors to explore the artistry behind her famous corset. Dunhill opened the doors of its leather workshop in Walthamstow, where the house’s bespoke designs are hand cut, sewn and finished. Frette celebrated the Italian craftsmanship that goes into the making of its fine linen and also showcased the unique artistry of Lisa Rampilli, in situ at the store producing a mesmerising piece of work dedicated to Frette’s Tropic of Cancer Collection. Lisa’s colours and brush strokes worked their way on her larger-than-life canvas to reveal the secrets and sensory details that go into producing the world’s finest linens and bespoke products.
British luxury travel and stationery brand, Smythson, transported guests back in time to Frank Smythson’s workshop. The brand celebrated its 130th year with an event in association with Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, showcasing how traditional making is still relevant today. Meanwhile, John Smedley’s 230-year-old factory in Derbyshire was brought to London with hand-cutting and finishing demonstrations in store.
A series of demonstrations ran every day in the Pavilion at St James’s Market, bringing outstanding making into the heart of the West End and providing opportunities to meet the people who make and create. Demonstrations included Ettinger creating leather wallets, the Boat Building Academy steam bending wood to create a kayak, and works by original wicker basket creators. Events were also taking place at some of the capital’s most iconic buildings, including a behind-the-scenes tour at St Paul’s Cathedral, giving the chance to see hidden rooms and original models by Sir Christopher Wren. At Southwark Cathedral, there was the chance to try dry-stone walling as well as the rare opportunity to see the Bishop’s vestments up close. Hosted by the House of Lords, the Heritage Crafts Association and the Radcliffe Trust discussed the UK’s most endangered crafts at the launch of the Red List project.
According to London Craft Week’s chairman, Guy Salter OBE, the programme of events is “an 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. It is rash to make any predictions in the current climate but I’m going to attempt two for 2017. First, that people will continue to search for ‘beyond luxury’ in terms of exceptional creativity and provenance, rather than fame or expense. Second, that London will continue to demonstrate its place as a unique global creative crossroads, open to new ideas and welcoming to all.”
For more information, go to www.londoncraftweek.com.