The Best of British Crafts, All in One Shop



Slide Show

Inside the Store Celebrating British Artisans

CreditGareth Hacker


“Craft has always been art’s poor relation. I imagine because it’s functional and people sometimes don’t like to see the value in something you can use as much as something you can put on a wall,” says Catherine Lock, co-founder of the New Craftsmen, a unique space in London dedicated to selling and promoting the work of small-scale British artisans. “I see craft as art we can live with in a real way.” After working as a product developer at the popular English home décor chain Habitat and for the British Council promoting local designers of all sorts at home and abroad, Lock spotted a gap in the market for a business that sold handmade works such as ceramics and textiles in the elevated, curated manner of an art gallery. In 2012, the then-39-year-old toured the U.K. for five months searching every remote corner of the country for hidden talent — a pair of potters from the isolated wilds of Wales, a furniture maker from the misty forests of Kent, a textile designer working in the smallest of studios in East London — to sell in a temporary space she secured in London’s Mayfair neighborhood. “I went where the wind took me. One artist would tell me about another,” says Lock. “I was hunting for objects but it also ended up being a journey into my own culture. What I’m doing is as much about what goes on our shelves as the stories of the people making these wonderful things.”

Lock and her two partners have since moved into a permanent brick-and-mortar space in north Mayfair and launched an e-commerce website that provides bios for each artisan, images of the studio spaces they work from and, most importantly, a carefully edited selection of their work. In May, they revamped the store to include a studio space where interior designers and individuals can meet with any maker in the New Craftsmen stable to collaborate on custom projects. It can also be used as a spot for an artist to work on a piece that will be sold at the store. “My commercial background helps me advise our makers on which pieces will be successful without sacrificing the authenticity,” says Lock. “We want to help them focus the spirit of their work.”

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