There is a renewed love for handblown glass, artisanal ceramics and hand knotted textiles. Logical: the charm of unique is difficult to resist. The trend A hand knotted tapestry, a large earthenware bowl, a sculptural mouthblown glass vase – the craft which is hidden behind making such things is centuries old, but we are not […]
There is a renewed love for handblown glass, artisanal ceramics and hand knotted textiles. Logical: the charm of unique is difficult to resist.
A hand knotted tapestry, a large earthenware bowl, a sculptural mouthblown glass vase – the craft which is hidden behind making such things is centuries old, but we are not bored of them. On the contrary: in an age of Smartphones, algorithms and big data, craft is returning more and more to our homes. A loft is an ideal place where artisanal objects ensure a warm, personal touch in a high, open space.
The comeback of crafts is good news: three years ago the British newspaper The Guardian had the headline: ‘Hats off to craft skills – before they disappear for good.’ We do not need to be afraid that textile processing, glasswork and ceramics (a collective name for earthenware and porcelain) are disappearing. The craft movement, as apparent to us everywhere, is still here: last year, during her six-monthly trend seminar, forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort spoke about a large textile revival, pottery courses are often sold out in no time and ceramic art is auctioned for record prices.
It is not the first time that we as a society long for craft. During the nineteenth century, the famous arts and crafts movement emerged, led by textile designer and utopian thinker William Morris. The movement was fiercely critical of the impersonal mass products of the industrial revolution which had just been completed. Morris’ motto: ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’ Furthermore, the movement found that the term ‘art’ could apply to many more things than just the art of painting. Author and arts and craft member Selwyn Image therefore jokingly referred to the Royal Academy of Arts as ‘The Royal Academy of Oil Painting’ and wrote: ‘The unknown inventor of the patterns which decorate a wall or a water pot should have just as much right to be called an artist as the painter Raphael.’
There are indeed considerable differences between the arts and crafts movement from the nineteenth century and the artisanal trend of today – the glasswork and textiles, the pots, crockery, vases and sculptures are of a more modern design and have a fresher colour – but there is also an important similarity: both honour the unique value of a handmade object which cannot be imitated by any single machine.
The craft of textiles is centuries old. Yet the current generation of textile designers are able to rejuvenate the profession. For instance, the still relatively young Dutch woman Nienke Hoogvliet is interesting. The 29-year-old textile designer already opened her own studio when she was 23. She wishes to make the textile industry sustainable from inside out and for this purpose she makes beautiful textile products from alternative raw materials such as seaweed and fish skin. Also interesting: Bregje Sliepenbeek makes enormous tapestries from dozens of thin metal threads which are given geometric patterns due to differences in thickness. She ‘weaves’ the metal, by treating the material as textile and so textile boundaries fade. Fantastic on a high, bombastic wall in a breath-taking loft.
The perfect imperfection of artisanal blown glass is back in fashion. In the year 2019, there is a new generation of designers who work with glass. Think of for instance Sabine Marcelis (who interestingly also lives in a loft herself) and her beautiful glass objects, which she makes for customers such as Burberry, Gucci and Isabel Marant. Or of the refreshing glass objects by the Norwegian designer Andreas Engesvik: fascinated by the colour changes of a forest during the different seasons, he makes abstract, glass trees in various shades of green, red and brown, which together form a forest.
Ceramics – or baked clay – is such a pronounced material that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the work of various ceramists. The material itself already determines much of the aesthetics, much more than with textiles for instance. This applies to both colour and shape: you see many shades of creamy-white, patchy grey or rusty brown, and many convex, round vases, pots or sloppy round plates and bowls. Precisely the softness of these shapes and colours ensures that ceramic objects are so calming to the eye. You see this the best with the Irish designer Yasha Butler and the Swedish designer Enriqueta Cepeda; they make bowls and vases that are so thin and large that they almost become sculptures. Cepeda has some of her ceramic vases smoked, a century-old technique whereby the temperature is increased to a thousand degrees in a boiling hot oven. The result: pitch-black bowls and vases.