Now in its fourth year, London Craft Week (9-13 May) is back, bigger and better than ever with over 230 events. Celebrating, as LCW chairman Guy Salter puts it, “Imagination, individuality, passion, knowledge and skill”, this is a week devoted to exceptional craftsmanship from all over the world: a chance to not only peek inside the studios of the famous or snoop behind the scenes at some great British brands, but also an opportunity to be introduced to independent makers, little-known crafters and global artisans. And even more exciting, you can have a go yourself courtesy of an incredible array of great workshops on offer: have a play under the supervision of a master maker and afterwards take home your made-it-yourself creation. After all, DIY is the fast-track to appreciation of just how talented the professionals really are.
Herewith then my top 22 picks of the entire week divided by location. Click links to book any item. And the whole 2018 programme can be found here… London Craft Week.
1 Hole & Corner magazine, dedicated to “celebrating and promoting creativity, craftsmanship and heritage through digital, print and events”, teams up with dunhill to present a series of workshops and discussions from leather makers to tailors, glass artists and more. So combine a snoop around Bourdon House, Dunhill’s HQ, with some erudition — there’s even a screening room and a café! Thursday 10th to Sunday 12th. 10-7pm. Free entry. Home of Craftsmanship.
2 Make like a celebrity, or a minor royal, and hunker down for an evening soirée at 5 Hertford Street, the usually super-secretive private member’s club, to learn about handmade board games from the likes of Pickett London, Alexandra Llewellyn and Simpson London. After all, staying in to play a round of checkers is absolutely the in thing to do these days; and besides you might bump into Harry Styles on the stairs. Evening hosted by journalist Caroline Roux. Wednesday 9th May, 7-10.30pm. £22. Booking essential. Evening of Bespoke Board Games
3 Florence Balducci, she of the whimsical black and white illustrations and longtime collaborator with Anthropologie, not only has her latest homewares collection out on view at the brand’s flagship Regent Street store, but she’ll also sketch a portrait of you onto a handmade Japanese Wasara paper plate and you can take it home! 12 places only. 20 minute slot. £10. Friday 11 May 10-12pm and 3-5pm. Booking essential. Meet the Maker: Florence Balducci at Anthropologie
4 Wood worker extraordinaire Sebastian Cox presents ‘Balance‘, a series of sculptures cum mobiles that interweave woodwork and flora, all set within the Bamford store on South Audley Street to “create a sense of well-being and calm”. Wednesday 9th to Saturday 12th. 10.30am -6pm. Free entry.
5 You can never have too many cushions or scented candles, and Cire Trudon make some of the most delectable of the latter. Seeing as they’ve been going for some 400 years, they also know a fair bit about their craft, so a chance to hear CEO Julien Pruvost spill some of its secrets is a must. You can also claim your ticket price back against some shopping afterwards. Seriously win/win. Wednesday 9th May, 6-9pm. 25 places only, booking essential. Maison Trudon: 400 Years in the Making
6 Genevieve Bennett weaves, braids, cuts, crafts and sculpts leather into one of a kind wall art and home furnishings and accessories. And now you can get up close and personal to see exactly how she does it at another luxury private member’s club, Home House. Wednesday 9th May, 7-9pm. 20 places only, £30. Booking essential. Genevieve Bennett at Home House.
7 Along with cushions and candles, you can also never have too many pots, especially traditional Korean ceramics and lacquerware. I know less about its native embroidery though, so this exhibition is a chance to see all three of the country’s celebrated crafts in one go. Plus, you can watch a Korean tea ceremony and taste a cup or three too. Exhibition: 9-12 May, 11-6pm, free entry. Tea Ceremony: Saturday 12 May, 12-4pm. 50 places, £3 each, first come first served! A Trio of Korean Crafts at the Han Collection.
8 A while back, Liberty London launched a genius initiative to find untapped design talent right here in the UK: LibertyOpenCall. Loads of people entered (basically any maker who wanted a shot at being stocked in the store could send in an entry!) and the finalists and winners are now on show. Wednesday 9th to Saturday 12 May, 10-8pm; Sunday 13th May, 11.30am – 6pm. LibertyOpenCall
9 Canapés, ceramics and conversation, what more could you want! Well how about Roux scholar Dan Cox cooking and chatting about the importance of all things “at the table” and his brand new online portal, The Room Service, where you’ll be able to find all sorts of wondrous linens and tableware as seen in many a fine hotel or design-led eatery. Oh and it’s all going on in the Plain English showroom on Blandford Street, Wednesday 9th May, 6-8pm. 20 places, £15, booking essential via firstname.lastname@example.org
10 The Yunus Emre Institute was opened in London in 2010, its mission to promote the history, culture and language of Turkey. Named after a famous 14th Century Turkish poet, the institute also houses an extensive library and regularly holds classes and events to teach people Turkey’s traditional crafts. For London Craft Week then, you can make and learn absolutely everything you might care to know about Iznik tiles from master tilesman Ayse Özkan, from the stories behind the patterns to the intricacies of glazes to needling. Varied times. Booking required. £7 per workshop. Make a Turkish Iznik Tile
11 Two things I didn’t know, 1. that ‘Couture Sellier’ is what you call traditional hand-stitching on leather, and 2. the Swedish brand Laperruque, who make “artisanal, minimal, timeless leather goods with a focus on functionality and refined detail”. And you can find out more about both by hot-footing it along to the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, as well as getting the chance to practice a whole bunch of other special leather-meister wizardry on an unfinished cardholder that you get to keep afterwards. Thursday 10 May, 2-3.30pm; 5-6.30pm. 8 places per workshop, booking required. Free! Lapperruque at The Ace Hotel
12 Do you need an excuse to visit the Nobu Hotel in Shoreditch? Well just in case, during Craft Week it’s home to an exhibition of ‘Japanese creativity and Making from Kyoto’. Think rare silks, ceramics for tea, and Japanese cuisine from the ancient capital of Japan. Free entry. Varied times. And if you pop along on Wednesday 10th May, 5.30-7.30pm, you could also join Origami artist Michael Trew, for ‘The Art of Origami’ and learn how to make a fabulous folded swan for starters I’m sure. I’m channelling the origami guy from Blade Runner already, remember him? £20 fee includes cocktails! Booking required.
13 I’ve always admired the work of ceramicist and designer Reiko Kaneko, so a chance to meet her and understand her work at SCP is a must, and if you head there on Saturday or Sunday (11-12pm or 2-3pm) you could also catch some live pot throwing courtesy of Steve Harold who hand-makes Reiko’s Terracotta collection. Free. No booking required. House of Ceramics at SCP.
14 Living in Brighton as I do, I’ve always thought that the Georgian period (Regency too!) was by far one of England’s most elegant architectural eras, but what of its kitchens? Find out what a Georgian-inspired kitchen might entail by joining Christopher Howe of Howe London and Merlin Wright, Creative Director at Plain English to find out why they got together to create one in the basement of the Howe showroom. There’s also cake to eat. And new home accessories to buy. Pop in Wednesday 9th to Saturday 12th, 12pm – 6pm (4.30pm on Saturday). Or join the talk on Thursday 10 May at 10.30am. 20 places, £10. Booking required. Howe London
15 Did you know that Soane Britain own the last remaining rattan weaving workshop in Britain! No, neither did I. And seeing as I’m predicting that rattan is going to make a massive comeback, they’d better hang onto it and get training up some extra apprentices pronto! In the interim, check out their latest woven lighting collection, see how its done, and find out more about this incredible material. Thursday 10 May, 10-5pm for demonstrations. 12pm for the talk. Free to attend. Weaving Rattan Lighting, Soane Britain.
16 Deyan Sudjic, former editor of Blueprint and Domus, author of many a book, and now Director of the Design Museum is terribly smart and clever, so an opportunity to hear him debate ‘The New Ethics of Craft’ with Jonathan Andersen, Creative Director of Loewe, is bound to be interesting. Friday 11th May, 1-2pm. 150 places, tickets from £12. Craft Conversations, The Design Museum.
17 Ohhh, get thee to Petersham Nurseries, and using its plants and flowers, you could learn to dye your own apron. Get fancy with flower printing, stencilling, and hand-painting all under the watchful eye of the normally Florence-based La Sierra MK Textile Atelier. Saturday 12 May, 10.30am-12.30pm. 18 places, £70. Booking required. Stencilling with Nature, Petersham Nurseries.
18 In Japanese, there is a term called ‘mottainai’, or ‘waste nothing’. It is the core value of Boro (Japanese indigo patchwork), the practice of mending or patching textiles. Want to know more, then nip along to Toast on Westbourne Grove on Friday 11 May, free workshops on the hour, every hour from 2-6pm. Booking required. The Art of Boro at Toast.
19 Tom Dixon has opened a new small batch manufacturing workshop in North London, so needs must take a look. His spaces always have an amazing energy to them, as if you’re right there at the coalface of genius, which you often are, quite frankly, and funnily enough, the space is actually called The Coal Office. The Factory by Tom Dixon. Free entry but limited to 50 places. Thursday 10 May, 6-8pm.
20 The Craft of Letterpress is a wonder indeed, and Alan Kitching has a historic collection of blocks, which he uses to create art accordingly. Senak a peek around his studio and listen to the man himself explain all. Alan Kitching: A life in Letterpress. Open Studio Saturday 12 May, 10.30am -4pm. Talk Saturday 12 May 11-12pm. Booking required.
21 When I interviewed Fine Cell Work founder Katy Emck in March for Liberty London, I was stunned at the wonderful work this charity does, from the actual stitching and embroidery to most significantly the multi-faceted rehabilitation of the prisoners who do the work. Think it looks easy? Then sign up for this beginner’s workshop to learn how to make a cushion. Fine Cell Work. Saturday 12 May, 10am -4pm. 10 places, £80. Booking required.
22 Kintsugi is the Japanese art of using gold seams to breathe new life into broken ceramics. How amazing then to have the chance to learn how to do it in a workshop with Iku Nishikawa at the design shop Wagumi in London’s Oxo Tower. Thursday 10th and Sunday 13 May, 11.30-1pm; 2-3.30pm; 4.30-6pm. 3 places per workshop, £30. Booking required. The Art of Repair: Kintsugi at Wagumi.