It’s time to discover new craft at Heal’s Modern Craft Market, running in their London Tottenham Court Road store until Sunday. With expert demonstrations and hands-on workshops of contemporary craft as well as the chance to pick up a unique design, it is a real opportunity to invest in some of the most innovative craft makers of the moment, from as little as £9 for a limited edition pencil sharpener from Will Smith.
Heal’s has a long history of nurturing designers from its beginnings as bed-makers in 1810, to Ambrose Heal’s instrumental role in the Arts and Crafts movement supplying sound, well-designed furniture at reasonable prices, and more recently the Heal’s Discovers Design Competition. Today the Modern Craft Market, in association with the Crafts Council and Contemporary Applied Arts brings work from a carefully edited selection of artisans using traditional and contemporary techniques, skill, innovative materials and often a wry sense of humour.
Chief among the pieces that caught my eye were Jungin Lee’s candlestick holders made from salt. In a range of colours from spring green to candy pink are a passing joy that can be savoured in the moment, as with any celebration, and then dissolved after use. Jungin Lee is part of the the WORKS collective, a group of Royal College of Art alumni formed in 2012.
Fellow WORKS design talent Ariane Prin‘s pencils are made from the wood dust, graphite, clay and flour recovered from the floor and canteen of the RCA and compressed into pencils. The pencils are labelled “From Here for Here” as they are waste from various areas of the RCA recycled in a local pencil factory to supply drawing tools to students. The project, shortlisted for the RCA’s Sustain Award, connects making, materials, and product with their place, and environmental principles. The picture shows the tool, surrounded by pencils arranged in a dial.
Another wonderful reincarnation courtesy of WORKS designers are the Well Proven Stools, from Marjan van Aubel and James Shaw. Mindful that processing wood products normally incurs 50% to 80% timber wastage Aubel and Shaw looked for ways to recapture the value in that waste. Mixing a bio-resin with waste shavings caused a chemical reaction resulting in the distinctive foaming wood, a lightweight material reinforced by the fibres in the hardwood shavings. Aubel and Shaw mixed the porridge-like material with coloured dyes and found it could be easily moulded. The resulting Well Proven chair was nominated for the Designs of the Year 2013 by the Design Museum. The stools currently for sale in Heal’s are the next iteration of the Well Proven Chair. Pairing the foaming wood with elegant turned American Ash legs creates a partnership of two contrasting forms. The stools are available in a variety of heights and colours.
The stools from Ellen Thomas were another pretty place to perch, with their on-trend teal feet and decorative inlay. Prices start at £220 for a small stool. Nick Fraser’s witty take on candlestick holders made from brass fittings and pipework are useful objects with industrial form, fitting for more than bachelor pads. There were also gorgeous woven accessories from Beatrice Larkin and Eleanor Pritchard and equally tactile, though not as cuddly, boiled leather moulded to make lampshades from Hoare and Brady.
Everybody needs a home, and for £20 many of us could joyfully accommodate a Bird House from Smith Matthias to provide a home for small British birds such as the tit family and tree sparrow. The flat packed nesting box is designed to fit in an envelope through a letter box and for easy self-assembly. The Bird Houses are available in a palette of colours that are kind on the eye.
Go discover, there are many delightful objects with their own story to tell!