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Glassblower Michael Ruh working in his South London studio

Made In London

10. 02. 16   :   The Epistle

When we think of artists and craftspeople, we might have a romantic vision of them working in splendid isolation, honing their skills in a remote workshop with country views; and to find talented artisans, received wisdom might tell us to head out of London, where there is more space for creative juices to flow and an expectation of better value for money. In recent years, however, a thriving, supportive and still growing designer-maker scene has sprung up in and around the capital, and buying directly from small, design-led, local businesses is becoming the norm for those looking for unique, exquisitely made products.

Across the UK, people are reviving traditional methods of craftsmanship and London is no exception. Workshop space in the capital might still come at a premium, but design collectives and networks are championing independent producers and makers, providing an established platform from which new and growing businesses can promote themselves. Award-winning social enterprise Cockpit Arts rents affordable studio space to around 170 makers in Holborn and Deptford and offers expert business development advice. It is currently the UK’s only creative-business incubator for designer-makers – among their current residents are furniture, lighting and textile designers, metalworkers and silversmiths. Many success stories have emerged from this supportive environment, with artists achieving national and international recognition.

silver carafe set and silver goblets inlaid with gold by Shona Marsh
Britannia silver carafe with set of four tumblers on rose wood inlayed with sterling silver and 9ct gold; sterling silver goblets; all Shona Marsh

Another innovative company is Mayfair-based The New Craftsmen, which collaborates with some of Britain’s finest craft makers, showcasing their products via its shop in Mayfair as well as online. Clients can communicate directly with artists to develop bespoke pieces. Over 75 makers are represented, from ceramicists and jewellers to wood turners and glass blowers, with over half of them based in London.

Glassblower Michael Ruh working in his South London studio
Designer-glassblower Michael Ruh works out of his studio in South London. Photo: Julian Love

The capital is making its mark as a vibrant, creative, design-led city. London Design Festival, held annually in September, celebrates and promotes London as ‘the design capital of the world and the gateway to the international creative community’; and when the Design Museum relocates to its new (much bigger) home in Kensington later this year, it will be the world’s leading museum of contemporary design and architecture. On its website it also promises to promote innovation and nurture the next generation of design talent – more great news for London.

At 1508 London we are always on the lookout for outstanding craftspeople who share our principles and our meticulous eye for detail, and we have been lucky enough to work with some of London’s finest. We see each project as an opportunity to create something new, and it is always a pleasure to commission individuals and businesses that understand our passion for exceptional interiors.

Based Upon is one such company. Its pioneering approach to creating commissioned artwork, unique objects and design pieces is inspirational – and the results are breathtaking. It has created bespoke staircases, doors, ceiling panels and feature walls for private homes, luxury hotels and super yachts around the world – all from its workshop in Woolwich, SE London.

A staircase in a super yacht, designed by London-based company Based Upon
Super-yacht Staircase Underwater Landscape (2009) by Based Upon, made from timber, liquid metal and fibre optics
Decorative metal wall panel with chinoiserie-style tree
Bauhina (2009) by Based Upon, made from timber, pigmented resins and liquid metal

Giles Miller Studio is a design practice that specialises in unusual textured surfaces that incorporate bespoke imagery, patterns, text or branding. Based in Hoxton, it has created acclaimed work for some of the world’s most prestigious brands and has garnered extensive international press coverage.

Gloss gold textured wall installation
Part of a 22-metre Giles Miller Studio installation in Sukhothai restaurant, Leeds, combining high-gloss gold ceramic tiles with dark walnut timbers

Based in Dalston, East London, Haberdashery is another exciting company that uses cutting-edge light technology to create bespoke lighting and sculptures for exclusive locations such as The Shard and One Hyde Park. It also has an incredible research and development programme that feeds into its projects.

Contemporary light installation above a dining table on a yacht
Light feature in the dining area of MY:Logica luxury yacht

We have also been privileged to work with Locker & Riley, a specialist plaster company based about an hour from central London in Chelmsford, Essex. The award-winning team has an international reputation for designing, making and installing the highest quality plasterwork using techniques passed down through the generations. It boasts a portfolio that includes luxury private residences, historic properties, palaces and high-profile flagship stores.

Examples of restored plasterwork mouldings in Hanover Lodge, London
One of Locker & Riley’s prestigious projects was the restoration and creation of bespoke plasterwork mouldings and architectural features throughout Hanover Lodge, a late-Georgian London residence

Dernier & Hamlyn has built up its business to become a world-leading designer and manufacturer of lighting for the luxury market – all from its base in Croydon. Its bespoke products are still made in its own factory, now something of a rarity in the UK. We worked closely with its experienced designers and skilled craftsmen to create this dramatic, contemporary chandelier, now the centrepiece of the library room in Project Pearl.

This twisted-rope chandelier in 1508’s Project Pearl was created by Dernier & Hamlyn

1508 is proud to be a London-based company and we consider ourselves lucky to have such a treasure trove of talent and innovation at our fingertips. In 2016 we can look forward to working with some of the most passionate and accomplished artists in the industry – we can’t wait!