Modern design + craft
Saturday 28th April, 12 – 5 p.m.
at Assembly Point Gallery
The first of new kind of show, Ensemble brought together some the best new international design + craft, featuring 18 makers, writers and researchers. The show was formed in a response to our digital age of over-saturation and sought to carefully curate an event, a living installation space, where people could meet in real life, and appreciate beautiful work, in real time. All works were available to buy.
'The power of a much-loved everyday object can’t be overstated. Precious chipped plates, tea-stained pots, hand-mended linens, well-travelled trinkets — they all become talismans for our private spaces.'
In praise of ‘things’.
By Natalya Frederick
The lauded ceramicist Lucie Rie famously said very little about her signature clay and stoneware vessels or steadfast process, instead preferring to let her vast body of work speak for itself. But of the handful of quotes she willingly gave, she once explained,
“To make pottery is an adventure to me, every new work is a new beginning. Indeed I shall never cease to be a pupil. There seems to the casual onlooker little variety in ceramic shapes and designs. But to the lover of pottery there is an endless variety of the most exciting kind. And there is nothing sensational about it only a silent grandeur and quietness.”
Lucie’s idea of newness, excitement and adventure might well feel at odds with the sedate image of the world of craft and design. Bound by a certain degree of practicality and usefulness, design is by its nature removed from the lawlessness and abandon of the fine arts. And craft is synonymous with things that are woven, carved and hewn; painstaking activities that seem to connect us with the past far more than the future.
But in recent years something new has been stirring. Yes, a slow realisation that even the most functional objects around us can be poetic and beautiful. But also, in a more abstract sense, we are discovering a renewed love of ‘things’. And not as superficial signifiers of wealth and status, but on a deeper level as a reflection of who we are or could be.
Technology continues to fill the gaps in our lives, but as we face the potential loss of textured, real world experiences, the backlash has begun. Now the thought of living in stark bleached rooms run by computers is horrifying rather than excitingly futuristic. Now we want to keep and live amongst the handmade, the ancient, the wobbly — things that add texture. And it feels increasingly modern to do so.
The power of a much-loved everyday object can’t be overstated. Precious chipped plates, tea-stained pots, hand-mended linens, well-travelled trinkets — they all become talismans for our private spaces. As conduits for our innate attachment to memory, culture and to some extent, our humanity, they have the comforting power to transport us through time and space. Our ancestors, no matter the tribe, all made and surrounded themselves with things that they loved and deified.
Perhaps the current shift away from the more clinical and ordered aspects of minimalist design is leading us towards a more hopeful place; an embrace of objects and the joyous irregularity they bring. In filling our homes and lives with the sacred bits and bobs we love (however imperfect or uncoordinated), maybe we are simply reclaiming that primal longing to see ourselves anew in the remarkable beauty — and ‘silent grandeur’ — of well-crafted things.