Craft Industrialism; Stories behind Products

Craft Industrialism is a new initiative that aims to bridge the gap between the craft maker and the public allowing us to understand and appreciate the process of craft practice. The event showcases a carefully curated exhibition presenting a selection of makers work, each project has a detailed narrative which illustrates the complexity and precision of the ideas from initial concepts, design and development, and finally to the chosen production method. This project also aims to demonstrate the importance of promoting and supporting our local creative businesses.

preview night

I went along to the preview evening of the event, there was a real buzz in the atmosphere, everyone seemed excited to learn and understand more about the meticulous presentation of each project. For me, it was interesting to visually see the full thought process of the maker, from project notes, to concept ideas and sketches. It was fascinating to see the tools that are used by the makers, this allows us to comprehend the intricate hand craft techniques and the amount of time and work that goes into the creation of the project.


Since the contemporary craft movement we romanticise more of the handmade because we desire quality, not quantity. With the ‘handmade ethos’ becoming a key driver of consumer aspirations it becomes even more important for us to show a deeper understanding and appreciation of the design elements involved. From the sourcing of materials to the craft techniques through to the maker process, we have moved into a world where we value craft once again,  where we want individuality and unique quality, and are happy paying more money for one-off products. In today’s society we want to own less items and look towards owning products we feel mean something or have a story to tell.

Here is a look at some of my favourite designer-makers that are showcasing their work at this event, each maker will present their work over the next few days and discuss the theory or concept behind their designs. Tickets for these talks are available to buy and the exhibition is open to the public until Wednesday 25th March.

Ruth Pullan Textiles and Leather Work

Ruth’s studio is centered around exploring ways of manipulating leather into different forms and shapes. She utilises classic moulding techniques and shaping more often seen on a cutting table than in the workshop in order to bring together a new collection of work that challenges leather-working techniques with a modern twist.

Ruth Pullan

Laura Daza

Colour Factory is a visual and tactile investigation into the colour and dye world, using natural materials to question the relationship between nature and humans. The design is driven by the traditions of colour; celebrating ancient rituals or alchemic techniques and exploring ways for extracting natural pigments. Colours in nature are infinite, only a few thousand have been described and many others to be discovered.

Laura Daza

Convivial Project

Generative Scarves is a project that enables you to generate your own pattern for a scarf. For this project a procedural algorithm commonly used to digitally generate patterns of the natural world was sampled in a bespoke application. The Generative Scarves app, with its set of modifiable parameters enables the user to customise colours and patterns and create a unique print for a personalised scarf.

Convivial Project

js1600_scarlet opus edit

Craft Industrialism really makes you question what we buy and drives a desire to understand more about the story behind a certain product. This could be the story of the trend it aspires to create or the story of it’s history.  For retailers and manufacturers this concept is a great way to market product, allow conscientious consumers to understand the process, design and development that leads to the end creation. There is a growing interest in ‘real’ products and knowing everything about where it initiated so don’t just sell the product; tell it’s story to your consumers.

For more information on how you can achieve this contact us today.

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The Surface Design Show London 2015

The Surface Design Show is held at the Business Design Center in London, it is home to the most innovative surfaces for designers and architects. A variety of exhibitors showcase their latest designs in materials, textures and pattern. Here are a selection of the latest surface trends that we enjoyed at the show.

1. Key Pattern – Geometric


2. Key Materials – Metallic Mix

metallic mix

3. Key Texture – Natural Elements

natural texture

4. Surface Material Pattern Design


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Trend Tour at TISE West Vegas

At The International Surface Event (TISE West) in Vegas both Phil and Victoria led Retail and Designer trend tours of the show, this included a selection of companies we felt had particularly interesting products in terms of current or future trends. Prior to the show we visited every single exhibitors website, we viewed all of their product ranges and selected 12 or so exhibitors whose product caught our eye. We would like to share with you the products we identified as being the top current and future trend related products of 2015.

1. Boen

Amazingly there have been saw mills manufacturing timber at the Boen waterfall in Norway since the 1600’s. They are Europe’s leading provider in the premium segment and the second largest participant in the wood flooring market. Their selection of grey-toned and blonde woods relate perfectly to the industrial style.

Another reason we were impressed by Boen was because of their website – after looking through the hundreds of sites, as we do every year for the trend tour, we’ve established the flooring industry is notorious for its dated, ugly (to be honest), difficult to navigate websites. Boen however was a delight to visit, their online style matches their real world style, its contemporary and fresh and that is something that is often over looked. The page layouts have a magazine or blog look to them which is familiar to end consumers. They are inspiring, clean and easy to navigate around. They work with a Trend Expert to achieve this, she identifies which of Boen’s products match current trends and then groups them together into stories along with colour, material, product and styling suggestions.


2. Mannington Mills

This is one of the giant exhibitors at the show, we were particularly drawn to the US made Luxury Vinyl. Wood flooring is a key part of achieving the historical glamour look and can also be an effective way of establishing the base canvas for industrial style too. But real hardwood flooring isn’t always within everyone’s budget, certainly not reclaimed wood.

The luxury vinyl is ink-jet printed using the latest technology and more than that, they got the haptics right, it is subtly but beautifully textured and so all the messages your eyes and hands are getting say its real.


The desirable characteristics for wood for an industrial look include aged, distressed or signs of wear, dark heritage-look wood tones, a ‘hyper-natural’ appearance, reclaimed aesthetic, displaying signs of artisanal or hand crafted techniques and the use of grey tones for the industrial/urban trend.

Another great feature of the Mannington Booth is their Trend Wall Display, a little like the Boen website, it identifies the key current trends; key desirable flooring characteristics; and links this to their product range.


3. Preverco

Preverco Hardwood Flooring were established in the late 80’s, they create products with a keen eye on the trends, saying that:

“We’re like the  wood itself: a living material that evolves and adapts over time”.

They have a clear and concise website, a blog and good pinterest boards that prove they follow trends, keep up-to-date on emerging styles and colours, as well as working closely with experts to translate this information into achieving the right colour tones and finishes for their product. On their website they divide their products into trend styles, which is really helpful for Interior Designers and end consumers to look through to find a floor that suits their personal (or client’s) style and the look they are trying to achieve in a room.

We were also impressed with Preverco’s new Ipad App which allows you to visualise your floor selection, giving you a better idea of the exact look.

IMG_3443 IMG_34444. Henan Prosper

This company started 15 years ago and is now the world’s largest ‘wool-on’ lamb and sheep skin supplier. Some of their key customers include huge brands like UGG, Prada, Timberland & Nike. The products had many qualities that fit perfectly with our Nature Luxe trend (DIScovered) including elements of texture, tactile experiences, natural materials, luxury, comfort, cocooning and Wellbeing.


5. White Oak Carpet Mills

Here we found beautiful plush and luxurious carpets and rugs.

The carpets and rugs are created in their own manufacturing facility in North Carolina with a brilliant in-house design team. A remarkable feature of White Oak Carpet Mills manufacturing ability is that there is no maximum pattern scale – so they can create huge single repeat patterns.


6. Ascend Rugs

Ascend make handmade custom wool rugs from the finest renewable New Zealand wool, and their rugs are actually produced in Christchurch, New Zealand. The ‘Textures of Nature’ collection uses NZ mountain wool, merino, alpaca, mohair, natural silk and bamboo. There is a distinct mix of nature, craft and luxury which aligns perfectly with current and future trends.

Long pile rugs, large loop pile, tightly curled or crimped long haired wools certainly deliver these qualities whilst the lustrous and noble yarns add a touch of luxury.


7. Louis De Poortere

We love their ‘Fading World’ Collection of rugs as it relates so well to the historical glamour trend. Distressed, time worn and with a sense of erosion or wear… even erased patches of pattern and colour are an important trend for rugs. A sense of heritage is woven into rugs via these qualities and they seem to have an interesting story to tell.IMG_3460

8.  Foshan Yueshan

Foshan Yueshan specialises in providing a vast range of mosaic tiles for wall applications to worldwide customers. They have a strong design and trend-led approach in selecting their collections, and this is what attracted us most to this product range. It is a little bit different and special, in particular the mixing of materials really appealed to us as well as the fantastic metallic looks. Products with features including tarnished metallics, armoured undertones, cracked surface effects or distressed effects really relate to current trends.


9. Olde Wood

Olde wood is owned by husband and wife team Tommy and Mandy. They started the company in the late 90’s, and from modest beginnings grew it into one of the largest reclaimed manufacturing facilities in America. Recycling, reusing and renewing beautiful old wood from old structures is what Olde Wood is all about, essentially giving old wood a new life and purpose as flooring.

Usually the structures the wood comes from is over a century old and taken from old barns and industrial factory buildings. So your wood flooring could have once been a beam in a farmers barn, or a stable, or a roof joist in a warehouse.

And this is the reason why we love this product so much, apart from its beautiful, authentic aesthetics… it has a story. These are literally antique woods that have had a previous life and use, and remember they were originally harvested for that purpose decades and decades ago from slow grown virgin timber. There is a romance to this wood flooring, where no two pieces are exactly alike, you are getting something truly unique and over the years of use, the natural patina from weathering from the elements of wind and rain, sun and snow create a proudly displayed array of historical scars, marks and patina that has developed over decades… It has HISTORY!


Other than the historical qualities that link it to current trends it also has an industrial and Wild Urbanism look because of the use of mixed tones of wood.

10. Onyx Tile and Mosaic Distributors 

Onyx Tile is based in New Jersey, its a family owned company that was started in the early 2000’s and they distribute to more that 3000 dealers across America. The product that we loved the most is a hi-definition printed porcelain plank with a distressed finish. It’s so unusual to see pattern and texture used in this way and a great fit for an Industrial/Urban look, as well as for a Historical Glam’ look.


11. Bedrosians

Bedrosians have been in business for over 65 years are a leading source of porcelain and stone tiles in the US. The products connect beautifully with our trend forecast for the creation of calm, soothing, serene minimalist spaces, as well as warm grey tones with soothing neutrals and a carrara marble look. Texture is a hugely important feature for 2015 as is the tonality of colour mixes, subtle Eastern influences of interlocking tile shapes, and mixed qualities of texture, shape, tonality, opacity and transparency all adding to the contemporary feel of the  Bedrosian product.


We also love Bedrosians display of sample boards which are small montages of their products, (we mentioned these in our TISE East posting.) They not only invite people to be be more tactile with the product but they are a great way of showing how different products work together in terms of colour, textures and materials and are well worth creating in your own store!

IMG_3417We look forward to seeing what next years exhibitors bring to the show!

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LIVE from The International Surface Event Vegas

This week we have been at The International Surface Event in Vegas hanging out in our luxury chalet…

Lots of hard work went into the design and curation of the trend hub, first we had to come up with the creative ideas and inspiration mood boards before beginning to draw and design the specifics of the hub. We worked with a very talented team of builders to bring the whole idea to life!

image image


Welcome to the Trend Hub… A space to be inspired, gather information on colour, textures and materials. Be interactive with our wool colour palette and play around creating your very own surface mood board, designing your own style and theme with our interesting and unusual surface textures and materials, a source of inspiration and design style trends. We have wallpaper, fabric, wood, tiles, leather and resin samples from Alex Turco, ARTO Brick, Campioni, KAZA Concrete, Carina Sohl, BedrosiansTownsend Leathers as well as fish skin leathers from Decorum Est along with many more interesting samples.


The chalet is a beautiful mix of natural elements; drift wood, shells, agate, faux fur and antlers alongside details of style and glamour, gold and glitter. It allows time and space to appreciate both the rawness and the refinement. With key interior features from Michael Aram and fantastic moose and deer heads from WallCharmers. Thank you to Quickstep for supplying our Dark Tudor Oak Brown floor from their Reclaime Collection.


The tree table of surface samples attracted lots of people, inviting people to be tactile and hands on with the products added an interactive element, you could also create your own wool colour palette to take home with you for your own reference, one from each of our 4 key trends. Thank you to Camira for supplying the wool it was a fantastic feature that everyone enjoyed.


Our international knitting project went down well with many people, mostly women, adding more and more rows. The special opal yarn creates a self stripe pattern, it’s fantastic!


Oh and here’s me giving one of many trend talks on the Hub…


Next week we will take you on our Trend Tour with images and information about the top ten exhibitors we spotted at the show.

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Knit and Stitch Show 2014 Harrogate

The Knitting and Stitching Show is the largest and most highly regarded textiles and craft event in the UK, it’s packed with textile craft goodies to buy, workshops and galleries. I went along to check out some of the exhibitors this year and to see what was new in the world of embroidery…

Caren Garfen

‘She Was Cooking Something Up’.

Caren’s work consists of a full-size kitchen installation which brings together all of her research over the past three to four years on women, dieting and body image. Enter the kitchen at your peril!


TOFT Luxury British Knitting

TOFT designs and manufactures quality alpaca and wool yarn and fashionable knitwear here in the UK from British sourced luxury fibres and is based on an alpaca farm in Toft, Warwickshire. TOFT is for the stylish ethically-minded crafter looking for a proper great British story behind their knitting and knitwear. I loved their space at the exhibition, they had fabulous product, creative workshops and many patterns to learn and get involved in!

Jo Beattie

The image below is of a machine embroidery called ‘Playground’. This work is over a metre wide and 75cm in length. It hangs away from the wall, and so you see enlarged images of the children on the plain wall behind. It will hopefully give people the idea of a type of ‘PICK & MIX’ approach where the buyer can choose up to 4 images from the ‘Playground’ to put in a frame for themselves.


Leslie Morgan

‘How many Mountains’ is the title of this beautiful embroidered quilt – the detail of the stitch is amazing.


Olly mason

Main inspirations include urban architecture, surface texture and Middle-Eastern and Asian cultures. Her work focuses on surfaces and the conceptual contrast between hard and soft, incorporating both textiles and concrete. These designs have been created for innovative interior surfaces.


Hanny Newton

Her work is a combination of copper thread and glass on metal pins and industrial felt. Mining is part of the fabric of Cornwall, shaping the landscape while shaping the lives of the people. The Cornish mining story is all about people: the men, women and children who worked hard in dangerous conditions to earn a living.

The technique of layered felt padding is liberated from its conventional home underneath gold work embroidery that would be found on a coronation gown and up scaled to create sculptural rock forms. Gold and silver embroider threads are swapped for copper and tin – the lifeblood of Cornwall.


Bridget Donoghue

Currently studying at the University of Huddersfield on the Surface Design course, Bridget specialises in embroidery and exhibited some of her work at the show. Her work is based on the visual expression of dreams, and inspired by social issues, surfaces and her drawings. The pieces she has created are based on the four stages of sleep and the movement of the brain, by using the Amaya embroider machine she creates detailed movement in stitch textures.


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