As part of London Craft Week 2017, Design-Nation has launched an exploratory exhibition and accompanying microsite featuring twentyfour of its members, developed in partnership with design champion and journalist Barbara Chandler.
Barbara poses the question, “What makes every craftsperson unique?” Arguably, it’s the “marks” they leave on their materials, from the big picture of shape and colour and overall texture, to the smaller details of lips, rims, spouts, cuts, joints, edges, seams, pleats, folds, stitches and so on.
And as we reveal, every maker has a different background, motivations, inspirations, and surroundings, all of which may significantly affect their work.
Design-Nation includes established and respected makers like glass artist MIchael Ruh Studio. Michael uses an array of metal calipers and other tools to scribe delicate lines on his hand-blown glass: marks that evoke windblown grasses on seaside sand-dunes and enhance the simple shapes and distinctive colours of his tableware and lightshades. Michael works constantly, with a kiln that is never off and says, “making is my language”.
Another well-known exhibitor is weaver and textile designer Margo Selby. While her product range has expanded over the last decade from just hand-woven scarves and accessories to include a wide array of textiles for interiors – bed linen, towels, cushions, throws, and floor rugs and runners – hand weaving is still at the core of Margo’s work. All designs start in her studio through her own work. Margo says, “my loom keeps me driven” and in recent years has returned to hand production of one-off pieces, created by simple passes of the loom with her beautiful wood shuttles, to make striking pieces that exemplify the unique Margo Selby approach to colour and composition.
Like Margo, ceramicist Sue Pryke has created designs for major brands, but is happiest in her own studio making her own pieces of slipcast tableware. Sue’s deceptively simple and classic shapes in bowls, cups, spoons, jugs and teapots are created with careful pouring of liquid clay between a myriad of plastic jugs and moulds, to get the thickness of each piece exactly right. Later she adds colour: finely distinguishing hues of grey, blue, cream and other pastels. Certain shades of blue-grey are practically Sue Pryke trademarks now. “Just do what you love,” she advises and there is no doubt that many people love her work. Design Nation Showcase Micro-Website
The physical exhibition is accompanied by a specially designed website, created by Design-Nation members The Unloved, in close consultation with Barbara Chandler. Each exhibitor is profiled with compelling images and designers, products, and of course the tools used to make their work.
To read the full interviews by Barbara Chandler please visit the microsite here.
The exhibition is at gallery@oxo, Oxo Tower, Bargehouse Street, London SE1 9PH, until Sunday 7 May and is open 11am-6pm daily.
We are thankful for the support of Arts Council England and our partners London Craft Week and Coin Street Community Builders.
Images courtesy of the makers.