Fine craftsmanship has been prized since time immemorial; the knowledge passed down by successive generations combined with the skills of an artisan toiling at his particular craft to produce exquisite works of art. After a period of disposable consumerism and all-too-often brash branding, we are beginning to see a silent yet determined change in the mindset of luxury consumers. No longer are they swayed largely by the cachet of a luxury label. They are much more discerning in what they buy, valuing the creative process, provenance and human application behind the item. When buying a piece of jewellery for example, they want more than just a beautifully crafted ring or bracelet; they want to know why the jeweller chose to work with those particular precious stones or this particular design, what it is that inspires them when creating their jewellery and how this has changed over time.
This is one of the reasons craftsmanship is very much back in vogue. At the recent International Herald Tribune Luxury Conference in Rome, there was a distinct focus on the work of the artisan and how the global luxury houses are taking their inspiration from this to create items where “the human touch and attention to detail spell true luxury”.
From today, as part of a special two week preview, the best of British craftsmanship is brought to the heart of Mayfair by The New Craftsmen; the new venture by luxury veteran Mark Henderson, Chairman of Gieves and Hawkes along with Natalie Melton, previously Commercial Director of Arts & Business and Catherine Lock, brand developer, discovers, champions and sells the finest British craft products, including homeware, furnishings, jewellery, design and accessories.
The cultural landscape of the British Isles is central to The New Craftsmen’s values. Their mission is to revisit heritage products to give them a connection to today for discerning consumers. From a 4-storey townhouse opposite the iconic Connaught Hotel, they will be showcasing limited editions and bespoke works along with workshops where visitors will have a unique opportunity to meet the makers and learn about the materials and processes involved in making these beautiful objects.
In December, The New Craftsmen will host talks by weaver Ptolemy Mann, furniture maker Gareth Neal and stitcher Rosalind Wyatt, as well as demonstrations and workshops from Mr Smith’s Letterpress, glassblower Michael Ruh, and lino printer Cameron Short. The plan for 2013 is to develop a stable of up to 100 makers over time, across a range of crafts, alongside opening a permanent showroom in Mayfair next year.
The New Craftsmen’s vision of luxury is sustainable, intelligent, and functional – never flashy or overstated. “Our goal” says Mark Henderson, “is to create a business that puts craftsmanship back into the heart of luxury. For the craftsman it is the opportunity to make something as close to perfection as possible, for his client the opportunity to own something made with love and integrity.”
Henderson, along with heading up Gieves and Hawke also co-founded Savile Row Bespoke in 2004 with the aim of protecting and developing the art of bespoke tailoring on Savile Row, an address that has been a global watchword for British skill, quality, flair and ingenuity. The New Craftsmen shows that these same characteristics are shared by craftsmen working across the length and breadth of the British Isles today.
The New Craftsmen, 5 Carlos Place, Mayfair, W1K 3AP
The store will be open from 10am – 6pm, Monday – Saturday from 3rd – 15 December. There will be late night shopping, supported by Balvenie Whisky, on Thursdays until 8pm.