London Craft Week 2016
May 10, 2016|Luxury Design
- e are thrilled to have attended the second year of London Craft Week 2016. The aim of the week is to exhibit outstanding and innovative craftsmanship, and there is no better place to do this than in the world’s creative capital and the home of Oliver Burns, London. This week we saw hidden workshops and exhibitions of flagship pieces as well as attending a few drink receptions. An admirable combination of skill and passion was laid bare for all to see. The roots of creativity were truly celebrated and the fundamental necessity to preserve artisanal ability, particularly in the age of technology where the younger generations favour IT to hand-made crafts, was unanimously expressed.
Throughout the course of the events we saw how diverse craftsmanship truly is: it can range from bespoke delicate jewellery to commissioned luxury cars. The team at Oliver Burns treasure craftsmanship in all its forms. We hand-make unique items that are each infused with their own personality. Equally, ultra-high net worth individuals share our love for tailored approaches as they can see the characteristics they desire represented in an item made exclusively for them. The intrinsic value of such an item goes beyond monetary importance.
Howe, the leather, textiles and wallpaper company, showcased their flagship Salon chair. The Salon chair is commissioned bespoke, and can therefore be covered with the desired material to fit the taste of the client as well as provide the chair with its own personality. The first Salon chair was purchased by Lucian Freud, where it was used in his studio as the portrait chair his subjects would sit in.
The only person in charge of upholstering this chair by hand is Patrick, a skilled craftsman in the trade for approximately 35 years. Patrick utilises an age-old process to upholster the chair. We were amazed at the speed and skill in which he worked. A handful of sterilised tacks were placed in his mouth and one by one he worked them to the front of his mouth where, with his magnetic hammer, he would pick one and proceed to strike it into the wood.
The history behind the Salon chair is equally remarkable. Inspired by 18th century French “salon” style*, it reflects the soft, flowing lines with high-relief carving found in antique drawing rooms. Furniture shapes have evolved with the changing of fashion trends; as hooped dresses in the late 1700s gained popularity in ladies’ wardrobes, armrests on chairs were shortened, if not removed in total, to ensure maximum comfort. The previously used rectangular form began to become obsolete in favour of more curved and graceful lines.
Rolls Royce also opened their Berkeley Square showroom to car aficionados. The design and craftsmanship that goes into creating a Rolls Royce car is remarkable. The Serenity Phantom gave us an insight into Japanese gardens with soft hand-dyed and hand-stitched silk, mother of pearl accents, and smoked Cherrywood with bamboo cross-banding. Irrevocably feminine and reminiscent of Fromental, the interior design took over 600 hours to complete. Hand painted cherry blossoms were applied sparingly on the mother of pearl body with a minute squirrel-bristle brush. This one-off model pulls out all the stops to provide the wow factor and we saw it as a symbol of elegance and beauty.
The making of a starlight headliner was demonstrated live in the showroom. To create the spellbinding effect of sitting under the stars, fibre optics are carefully weaved by hand through the headliner board. Holes are initially prepared, and then each fibre optic light must be pulled through by hand, whereby they are cut at different angles to create varying cascades of light. The final effect is a soothing twinkling that feels like a magical stellar show. When we sat in the backseat the 1,000 fibre optic lights adorning the door-cappings, centre console and partition resembled small diamonds. We wondered how anyone could keep their eyes on the road with a celestial display happening in the back.
David Linley’s studio warmly welcomed us this week for a one-off VIP breakfast. After orange juice and savoury croissants Mr. Linley and his team showed us their bespoke pieces. Modern laser-cutting techniques are combined with traditional crafts of marquetry to encapsulate singularity and luxury. Linley challenges set processes by mixing crafts; engineering, jewel-making, and design are seamlessly united to delight clients. The Girih Treasure Chest, inspired by David’s travels to the Persian Gulf, is exemplary of this.
Craft and innovation come together to create the pieces that endure a lifetime. The final products are aimed to be passed down from generation to generation. Every piece of wood tells its own story, slowly changing over time, thus adding value. The most singular aspect we were in admiration of are the secret drawers hidden throughout the final pieces. They are engaging and add an element of light-heartedness. Mr. Linley recalls how he tells children there is a £10 note hidden in one of his desks and they can keep it on the condition that they find it first.
This week has been inspiring, educational and special. As Thoughtful Luxury is at our core, we appreciate knowing where the products we design with come from and even who they are made by. Creating a distinct interior design is imperative when producing the world’s finest calibre of homes, particularly as it’s a personal space and needs to reflect deeper meanings and values. Bill Watterson states “we have a human need for craftsmanship”, and with the changing times it is exciting to see how age-old techniques are merging with modern technology to reach even higher levels of grandeur.
Composed by MZ