One of our favourite British stockists is The New Craftsmen, a unique organisation that champions and represents the luxury, traditional crafts and products of over 75 exceptional British makers and artisans. A.S.APOTHECARY is the only skincare brand in their range, and as such, we feel honoured to have been cherry picked by them.
The New Craftsmen started life as an ecommerce business but the nature of their stock demanded a tangible space where these beautiful objects could be displayed, seen and touched. They opened a showroom in the heart of Mayfair, a distinctive building, which suitably was formerly the home of a 19th century manufacturer of hand made leather breeches.
Ceramicists, weavers, jewellers, furniture makers, blacksmiths, glass, metal and textile artists, silversmiths and other skilled small-scale British craftspeople from across the Isles are cherry picked by The New Craftsmen buyers for the excellence, durability and beauty of their work.
Their Mayfair showroom has been designed with the same quality of artistry in mind. It combines the feel of a curated art exhibition with the dynamic, creative quality of a workshop space, and all the consumer pleasures of a shop. Unique, one off pieces, sit alongside craft and lifestyle products and traditional home wares, and all are displayed in a way that perfectly showcases the skills and authenticity of materials and processes. It’s the kind of open, inspiring space you just want to spend time in - a celebration of the joy of craftsmanship and the beauty of natural materials; of form, of light, of texture.
In partnership with their Mayfair neighbour, Selfridges, The New Craftsmen have curated an immersive, interactive show that explores the emotional connections, objects, rituals and concepts around home and how we make our living spaces meaningful. Our House: A Home For All is located in Selfridges Ultralounge, and runs until 9th June. Since ritual, natural processes and craft are at the heart of what we do, we are delighted that a selection of A.S. APOTHECARY products have been chosen to feature as part of the show.
Crafting home grown meaning
In recent years we have witnessed a renaissance in traditional crafts. The growth of local sustainable micro businesses and small-scale producers in the UK is testament to a huge rise in the popularity of slow processes, and sustainably made products. The New Craftsmen Co-Founder Natalie Melton believes there is a natural craving to live more authentically and move away from technology and homogeneity, and she sees this trend continuing:
“A desire for authenticity, provenance & individuality is growing in importance for us all as well as the need for the tactile and hand made as an antidote to our screen-bound lives.”
It’s not the first time that a culture dulled by rampant commercialism has ignited a desire for deeper emotional connections to the objects we surround ourselves with and the rituals we enact. Almost a century and a half ago, The Arts and Crafts Movement sprang up in response to the soul-destroying impact of industrialisation and mass production. Their philosophy was principally focused on the home and bringing affordable art, craftsmanship and beautiful objects and utensils into ordinary domestic and human environments. The New Craftsmen’s aim is firmly rooted in this ethos, and was indeed inspired by the values central to the Arts and Crafts movement, as Natalie Melton explains:
“It was a huge inspiration to us as it was really the last time that craft was the foundation for a set of principals by which to live. That idea that functional everyday objects can hold their own particular beauty and charm resonates really strongly with each of us. Our range of makers and work spans from the functional and everyday right through to the unashamedly whimsical and charming...”
A tale of senses and emotion
Hand crafted, beautifully designed objects and products resonate meaning on many layers. Aesthetically pleasant and tactile natural materials, textures, and shapes delight the senses. Additionally the story behind a product’s creation is important to an increasing number of consumers, including provenance, production process and how that has impacted or protected the environment. While many of us have restricted budgets, often, purchasing cheaper, mass-produced home wares over more expensive well made items, may turn out to be a false economy. Aside from the environmental implications, mass produced, low cost objects tend not to last as long, and they don’t sustain our interest, they quickly become redundant once broken or out of fashion, and inevitably add to landfill. Increasingly, British makers and crafters are now designing objects that are more affordable, the prices may be higher than your High Street stores, but the traditional processes and quality of materials demand this, so that makers are adequately recompensed. The profit margins are actually much lower than commercially mass produced products where worker's rights and environment are often abused.
Well designed, hand crafted objects are more likely to become heirlooms and treasures that hold our attention for decades. Exceptional design is durable, not simply because it endures physically but because it endures emotionally. We build a relationship with objects over time, through the rituals and actions we perform with and around them everyday.
It’s thanks to the support of organisations like The New Craftsmen that sustainable small-scale producers and traditional artists and craft makers are able to exist and hopefully, to thrive. The success of these old style 'cottage' industries in the UK is central to how our local communities, and our local economic and natural landscapes will look and feel in the future, a sentiment which Natalie Melton emphasises here:
“Its absolutely fundamental for us all to try and support independent businesses and sustainable processes. A diverse commercial ecosystem benefits us all - and I think small independent businesses remind us that there is far more to commerce than the bottom line. Individuality, civility, connectivity, sustainability and human contact and relationships are all fundamental principals of many local businesses and these all help make everyday life a little more interesting an pleasant.”
Visit The New Craftsmen here: https://www.thenewcraftsmen.com/
Visit or book tickets for A Home for All: http://www.selfridges.com/GB/en/content/our-house/a-home-for-all
By Tara Gould – marketing and editorial A.S.APOTHECARY