Look for the personal touch

At a time when craft, applied art and designer-makers have never enjoyed such a high profile, the Chelsea Crafts Fair, run by the Crafts Council, ought to do very well. And its 25th anniversary can only help raise its profile. But among the home decorations, Christmas and wedding gifts and jewellery is the work of talented names in glass, metal product and textile design, many of whom are finding a captive commercial audience.

Junko Mori’s sculptural pieces in non-precious metal caught the eye of Peter Jones, the John Lewis flagship store a little further up Kings Road. The team commissioned her to create a twirling sculpture, Sprig, for one of the refurbished store’s many entrances (DW 10 June).

At the forefront in the rise of craft-based product design is Kaya Hoang, singled out a few years ago for a Design Foundation Award at 100% Design. A Royal College of Art graduate and winner of, among others, the Goldsmiths Design Awards, she creates vessels, bowls and tableware, often from pewter.

The work of West Midlands glass specialist Waldegrave & Sweet – Tim Waldegrave and Sam Sweet – is aimed squarely at the ‘luxury market’ with its quirky, small-scale pieces. And relative old-timer, textile designer Sharon Elphick, who’s layered photographic images have found corporate favour with unlikely clients such as National Grid Transco, is also on show.

These names follow such designer-makers who cut their teeth at Chelsea as architectural glass designer Kate Maestri, like Elphick now a 100% Design regular, and designer Rachel Kelly, known for her DIY interactive wallpaper.

But as usual, it’s the young rising stars who will be most closely watched, and the Crafts Fair is offering several awards and bursaries to the Elphicks and Maestris of tomorrow. With more than 220 exhibitors to choose from, the organisers will certainly be spoilt for choice.

The Crafts Council’s Chelsea Crafts Fair runs until 24 October (closed 18 October) at Chelsea Old Town Hall, King’s Road, London SW3

Latest articles