Archives for the Crafts Council

Well Created: The 2015 Northern Design Festival

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Assembly House, James Design, Novocastrian, Sophie Thompson, blh Ceramics, Jane Eastwood, Jennifer Stafford

THINK London is the only place to find authentic British design? Think again. The 2015 Northern Design Festival is a spectacular exhibition of top contemporary design talent from northern, national and international designers across graphics, furniture, fashion, ceramics, textiles and lighting. The Festival, which takes place from October 21-25 in The Assembly House, Newcastle, which is a a Grade II listed historic building in city centre that is not usually open to the public.

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Assembly House. Novocastrian, blh Ceramics, David Irwin, Jane Eastwood

In honour of Design Event’s tenth anniversary, this year’s Festival is set to be a stellar event. Over its history, Design Event has welcomed over 250,000 visitors and 1,400 designers and held over 120 exhibitions and events.

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A rug from the NODE collection by award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, Chris Haughton 

Highlights of this year’s Exhibition at the Festival include:

• a site-specific lighting installation by David Irwin using 50 of his M Lamps to celebrate the UK launch of the lamp and to reflect the beauty of the Grade II listed historic building;
• Architecture Open: Work in Progress is a showcase of innovative projects from the RIBA’s design competition, giving an insight into how architects work and develop ideas;
• Festival partners, the Crafts Council, will exhibit work by emerging makers taking part in the Hothouse programme, including jewellery, ceramics, fashion and furniture;
• Northumbria University School of Design presents Tools for Everyday Life – a body of work from its Designers in Residence programme; and
• NODE – a graphics showcase of beautiful rugs by leading artists, designers and illustrators including Sanna Annukka, produced by award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, Chris Haughton from NODE and their fair trade partners in Nepal.

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Novocastrian Slate Binate

The 2015 Northern Design Festival also features the hard-to-resist Design Event MART. This is a curated selling exhibition that includes the best in contemporary design from designers from across the North of England, including furniture, ceramics, textiles, lighting, product and jewellery.

Work selected this year includes hand-crafted contemporary pieces rooted in the North East’s industrial heritage from Novocastrian; Nick James’ unique furniture combining natural materials with intelligent design; and dramatic, beautiful designs for furnishing fabrics and cushions by Sophie Thompson. A full list of designers exhibiting in the MART will be published later this summer.

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Novocastrian Port Bronze Mirror

In addition to the Design Event MART, the Festival will offer visitors the chance to buy locally designed and made products and prints starting from just £10 in a curated pop up Design Event Store.

According to director Karen Nairstone, “In February this year we were thrilled to win the Homes & Gardens award for best backer of British design and we’re absolutely delighted to continue that work through this year’s Northern Design Festival – and in such a unique venue.”

by Jessica Quillin

The  Festival takes place from October 21-25 at The Assembly House, Newcastle.
For information on tickets and opening times, please visit 2015 Northern Design Festival or pay on the door (subject to availability).

What is Luxury? The V&A Museum Announces New Show for Spring 2015

new Dress_Voltage_Haute_Couture_Iris_Van_Herpen_2013_Paris_c_M._Zoeter_x_Iris_van_HerpenVoltage Dress, Iris van Herpen, 2013, Paris © M Zoeter x Iris van Herpen

A MAJOR exhibition exploring the meaning of luxury will be on show at the V&A, London next year. What is Luxury?, a collaboration between the V&A and the Crafts Council, aims to take visitors on a journey asking them to consider what luxury means and how it relates to their own lives. As well as including artefacts traditionally regarded as luxury items, the exhibition also wishes to provoke questioning and debate through the presentation of imaginary situations in order to investigate issues such as privacy, resources and access that could determine present and future ideas of luxury.


Ecclesiastical crown, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonEcclesiastical crown, ca. 1750 © The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection
on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

On display at the V&A will be objects regarded as luxurious due to the excellence of their design and craftsmanship such as the Space Travellers’ Watch, an entirely handcrafted mechanical timepiece by renowned British watchmaker George Daniels, a laser-cut haute couture dress by fashion designer Iris van Herpen, a Hermès Talaris saddle which combines traditional leather craftsmanship with a technologically innovative structure, and the Bubble Bath necklace by Nora Fok, made from more than 1000 hand-knitted nylon bubbles.

The concepts of time and space will be also examined in the show as the curators argue these are luxury items too especially within a 21st–century urban context.

Time for Yourself,  Marcin Rusak and Iona Inglesby, 2013, Marcin RusakTime for Yourself.  Marcin Rusak and Iona Inglesby, 2013 © Marcin Rusak

What is Luxury? poses questions about the future of luxury by presenting a range of design and art projects which question the relationship between luxury, value and materials. For instance Hair Highway by Studio Swine sets human hair in resin to create decorative pieces of furniture and accessories. Through looking at traditional explanations of luxury to conceptual projects, What is Luxury? aims to take visitors on a journey and prompt them to consider what luxury means and how it relates to their own lives.

Visiting research fellow Leanne Wierzba, co-curator of the exhibition, says, “What is Luxury? will reveal the stories and craftsmanship behind the exquisite and intriguing objects on display and demonstrate the precision, time and application of skills invested to produce them.”

V&A curator of Contemporary Furniture Jana Scholze and co-curator of What is Luxury?, adds, “As its title suggests, the exhibition questions the very idea of luxury today. It will challenge common interpretations of luxury, invite close examination of luxury production and extend ideas of what luxury can be. Essentially, the question of luxury is a personal one.”

by Caroline Simpson

Featured image credits: Necklace Bubble Bath Nora Fok 2001 Photograph: Heini Schneebeli. Courtesy of the Crafts Council

What is Luxury? opens at April 25 – September 27, 2015, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL. The Museum opens from 10.00 – 17.45 daily. Fridays from 10.00 – 22.00 (selected galleries remain open after 18.00.