Crafts Council

Added Value?

Bespoke

Does bespoke offer greater value than off-the- peg? In recent decades mass production has created a gap between producer and consumer. Bespoke consumption, and the commissioning of products, is now associated with luxury environments.

In making the assumption that bespoke is more expensive, other value-adding factors are not accounted for: the experiential benefits of using something that fits and meets your needs; and the emotional attachment and satisfaction that can come from a relationship with the maker. Such products, due to the materials and production process, are repairable and in turn more sustainable. In the rush to have more, more readily, have the wider values of bespoke products been forgotten?

Bespoke: carréducker, The Light Surgeons, 2012, 3'

Maker intro:

carréducker

Bespoke shoemakers Deborah Carré and James Ducker met whilst completing shoemaking apprenticeships, and together launched carréducker in 2004. United by a desire to bring the traditional craft of shoemaking into the 21st century, their work combines highly skilled and traditional craftsmanship with creative and unique styles and cuts. Their shoes are hand-sewn using centuries-old techniques. Yet carréducker have a distinctly contemporary approach to design, playing with fabric and leather combinations and colours. They see interaction with the customer as the most important part of the design process. Only after a series of fittings and discussions about style, detailing and finish, are the shoes made. Does the bespoke approach add value?

carréducker are partners of Gieves & Hawkes gentlemen's emporium, located at 1 Savile Row, London. They also run a studio at Cockpit Arts, London.

carreducker.com

Skill

What is the relationship between skill and value? The maintenance and evolution of skills, whether new or traditional, is at the core of all work. Many factors influence our judgement of the value of a skill. Its value is in proportion to our need for it, our respect for it, our desire for it and whether or not we possess that skill ourselves.

In a world where skills are increasingly mechanised and we are dependent on a cycle of production from which we are removed, does the skill of the maker's hand have greater worth? Are the works that result from its application of a higher quality?

Skill: Oliver Ruuger, The Light Surgeons, 2012, 3’

Maker intro:

Oliver Ruuger

Estonian-born designer Oliver Ruuger produces innovative, elegant fashion accessories, which play with traditional functional forms and designs. His London studio specialises in labour-intensive luxury pieces, which are both sculpture and product. He employs exquisite natural materials and a high level of multidisciplinary craftsmanship. Traditional leather-working skills combine with high-tech processes such as laser-cutting and 3D-printing. Does Ruuger's choice of materials and techniques add value?

Ruuger graduated from the London College of Fashion with an MA in Fashion Artefact. He won a Brooks Brothers Design Award in 2007, and he was an ITS finalist and winner of Best Accessories Collection in 2011.

oliverruuger.com

Experience

What is the relationship between craft, value and experience? Each time we consume we are faced with influencing factors such as the price, the experience the item promises, and the status conferred by ownership or use.

Crafted objects have many experiential characteristics: they are unique, high quality, authentic and have a bespoke fit, known origin and tactility, all of which may influence a decision to consume them. In an era of mass production and availability, are we starting to seek the experiential values of crafted objects over the many, often cheaper, alternatives?

Experience: Bompas & Parr, The Light Surgeons, 2012, 3';

Maker intro:

Bompas & Parr

In 2007, Sam Bompas and Harry Parr founded Bompas & Parr, specialising in fine English jellies, bespoke jelly moulds and spectacular culinary events. The studio designs unique experiences, often working to an architectural scale and employing cutting-edge technology. Renowned for their elaborate jellies, the two foodsmiths combine traditional and future-forward aesthetics to redefine the experience of eating. Their projects explore how the taste of food is altered by synaesthesia, performance and setting. Does the experience of consumption add value?

Recent projects include a cake-based crazy golf course on the roof of Selfridges department store in London. Their client list ranges from celebrities and major brands to a broad range of cultural institutions including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

jellymongers.co.uk

Materials

Materials: Zoe Arnold, The Light Surgeons, 2012, 3'

What makes a material valuable? If a material in its raw state is defined by its financial value in the global market, the answer to this question is straightforward.

Ambiguity is introduced when raw materials are processed, mixed and worked, by machine or by hand, and subjected to design and influence. At once value judgements of a different nature are key. Questions of quality, taste, personality and brand are raised. Is it here, through craft's ability to reshape, personalise and elevate materials, that its value can be found?

Maker intro:

Zoe Arnold

Zoe Arnold creates sculptural works from a mix of found and precious materials. These include metals, gemstones, and collected objects such as mother-of-pearl gaming chips, antique microscope lenses, ribbons and prints. Regardless of their measurable value, do all these materials become equal as Arnold mixes and works with them to build complex, multi-layered objects?

A poet and book maker, Arnold uses her own poetry, and other literary and art references, as the starting point for her unique creations. For her, it is the story behind the piece, rather than the material worth, that adds to the experience of wearing her jewellery. Do stories add value?

Arnold graduated in Jewellery Design from Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design, London, in 2003. She has since set up her own workshop and her work has been exhibited widely in the UK.

zoearnold.com

Brands

Brands: Simon Hasan, The Light Surgeons, 2012, 3'

Why are brands adopting craft and craft values? Luxury brands are no longer exclusive. High street replication and imitation provide global access at a range of price points. In this market context many brands, through overt collaboration, association and marketing, have looked to align their products with craft makers and hand-making processes.

This approach places a focus on how, and by whom, the products are made or crafted. The unique nature of the original product is brought into focus, and becomes exclusive once more. Does craft give back to luxury brands what mass production and replication take away?

Maker intro:

Simon Hasan

Simon Hasan occupies the territory between ancient craft processes and industrial design. He is best known for his revival and development of the medieval process ‘cuir bouilli': boiling leather to create an irreversibly rigid material, first used to make armour. He has pioneered the use of this technique to make unique objects and furniture.

Hasan has collaborated with a range of brands including the Fendi Foundation for Design, Danish design-textile company Kvadrat, and Wallpaper Magazine. Through these collaborations he has explored diverse dialogues between design, process, fashion and crafts. What do Hasan's craft sensibilities bring to the work of these brands?

A graduate of the Royal College of Art, London, with an MA in Design Products, Hasan now has his own studio practice in London. His work has been exhibited internationally. In 2011 he was part of the Design Museum's Designers in Residence programme.

simonhasan.com

The Everyday

Can craft add value to our experience of the everyday? Many craft practices consider function, technique, materials and aesthetics to present solutions for the everyday environment. At the core of these makers' ethos for production is a commitment to going beyond what is necessary, to proposing a solution that they believe is exceptional.

Our personal assessment of value affects our response to these everyday objects and environments. If greater consideration was given to the formation of our everyday environments, would craft makers have a greater role to play?

The Everyday: Tracy Kendall, The Light Surgeons, 2012, 3'

Maker intro:

Tracy Kendall

Tracy Kendall is a London-based wallpaper designer whose creations capture a strong sense of British inventiveness and eccentricity. She uses large scale digital graphics and tactile three-dimensional collage. Kendall has a background in fine art, which helps her to drive and challenge traditional perceptions of what wall coverings can be. The 3D materials are manipulated by modern technologies and hand techniques, such as weaving, stitching and laser-cutting. This mix of unexpected materials and skill results in beautiful yet functional pieces that redefine the value of wallpaper and transform spaces. Can craft add value to our experience of the everyday?

Kendall's work is held in permanent collections at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. She has won awards at the design shows ICFF and Decorex.

tracykendall.com