London is known for being home to new fashion designers, and in fact, it has also been secretly bolstering independent designers of craftsmanship to strive for a space of living in the modern times. It might sound contradictory as fashion is usually considered at the forefront of its time, whereas craftsmanship is associated with traditional techniques. But what happens when urban designers create something new with a deft hand?
We might as well think of craftsmanship as the living art of creating objects by hand, with an elevated aesthetic that only experienced makers are trained to possess. At Cockpit Arts in London, handicrafts are injected with a sense of modernity, when craftspeople, with an artistic eye unique to our times, hone their skills to perfect their creations. Carmen Machado, with an emotional connection to fishermen, collects recycled fishing net to create avant-garde textiles.
Handicrafts are relevant to the present also because advances in technology are adopted in the creative process, introducing a refreshing take on crafts. For example, BeatWoven, a conceptual textile studio, is inspired by invisible digital patterns of the sound and transforms them into innovative visuals in digital textiles.
Cockpit Arts in Holborn, London, is a building comprised of two wings and several floors that offer shared rooms for independent handicrafts people work. Craftspeople here specialise in a variety of categories, from textile and ceramics to fashion and fine jewellery. What they have in common is a persistent pursuit of beauty through intense and meticulous manual execution, and also sharp sensibilities to capture the pulses of the world we live in today.
It is a community where three crucial parties that bolster this trade meet: the makers, the shopper, and the sponsors.
Financial support from sponsors is important, especially for craftspeople who use rare and precious materials or require particular machinery. What lies at the core of a startup brand is the knowledge of business management, which Cockpit Art as an enterprise also offers as support.
When the studios are open for public visits every twice a year, it becomes a multi-faceted sphere of modern lifestyle. On these days, everyone could visit the studios and see for themselves the behind-the-scene space where the creative process takes place. The entire building is transformed into an exhibition, where every craft maker curates their unique pieces of the season and presents the stories of their products. Interesting and practical lectures such as “Colour Usage in Interior Design” are held, and there is also a small and lively cafe that offers handmade food.
It’s all about that warmth and vivacity coming from the interaction between designers and visitors, between human and substance, and between old and new. And who could resist it? After all, interaction is what we need most in modern days.
Words: Yi Tang
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