Craft + Luxury = ?

Dorchester Derby, carréducker, 2012, Photo Nick Moss, Crafts CouncilIs craft a new language for luxury?  Our relationship with the unique is considered in the exhibition Added Value? currently on at St Andrews Museum which questions the value of contemporary craft within the contexts of branding and luxury.

There has been an evident trend in recent years for brands to convey quality to consumers in their advertising through the use of the word craft, such as the Stella Artois 2011 campaign ‘A Thing of Beauty Crafted for Christmas’ and more recently the Kettle Chips Craft Party advertisement which is part of their ‘the love of craft’ campaign.  This increasing desire for authenticity, quality and craftsmanship, which is redefining our understanding of luxury, is investigated in this new Crafts Council exhibition through six themes embodied in the work of six of the exhibitors.

Hand sewn shoes using centuries-old techniques by carréducker raise questions around the values placed on Bespoke and if value-adding factors such as the pleasure in using something that fits and meets your needs has been overwhelmed by the association between commissioning products with luxury consumption.

The maintenance and evolution of Skill, whether new or traditional, and the greater worth it gives is considered through the labour intensive luxury fashion accessories of designer Oliver Ruuger who combines leather-working skills with high-tech processes such as 3D-printing.

Renowned for their elaborate jellies and the world’s first Multisensory Fireworks for New Years Eve 13/14 London, foodsmiths Bompas & Parr specialise in unique experiences. Craft objects have many characteristics that create Experience, from the status conferred by ownership to their quality, uniqueness, tactility and authenticity.  Are these values now being sought?

What makes a material valuable raises questions around the ability of craft to reshape, personalise and elevate Material to create a value, and is characterised in the work of jeweller Zoe Arnold who creates sculptural works from materials such as metals, gemstones, and collected objects such as mother-of-pearl gaming chips, antique microscope lenses, ribbons and prints.   Does the story add more value than the material?

The way Brands are adopting craft and craft values is considered through the work of Simon Hasan who has collaborated with a range of brands include Danish design-textile company Kvadrat and Wallpaper magazine.  He has pioneered the use of the medieval ‘cuir bouilli’ process to make unique objects and furniture.

The final theme is The Everyday and how our assessment of value affects our response to everyday objects and environments. The role of craft is examined through the work of wallpaper designer Tracy Kendall who challenges perceptions of what wall coverings can be questioning how craft can add value to our experience of the everyday.

The exhibition is brought to Scotland by Fife Contemporary Art & Craft who are holding accompanying events.  A free curator’s talk by Diana Sykes on Friday 28 February 2014 with tea served afterwards and Craft in Conversation, a one day Symposium on Saturday 1 March 2014. Reacting to the key themes of the exhibition the symposium will discuss the way in which the discipline can enhance industry, community and wellbeing in its contemporary landscape. Speakers include Fi Scott of Make Works, Glasgow, Richard Clifford, MAKLab, and Dr Frances Stevenson, University of Dundee. Chaired by Prof Mike Press, University of Dundee. The evens are free but booking is required –

There is also a website about the exhibition – – submit your answer to the equation (Craft + Luxury = ?)

See: Added Value?
St Andrews Museum, Kinburn Park, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, KY16 9DP
14 December 2013 – 2 March 2014
Open daily 10.30am-4pm

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