“The details are not the details; they make the product”.
Charles & Ray Eames
Bleu de Travail: French Work Jackets
A basic staple of French workers in the 1800’s, you can still find classic models made by Vetra and Le Laboureur (pictured a special edition of Le Laboureur made for US based Tourneur). Hard wearing and repair-friendly, traditionally dyed in sharp indigo hues, they come in regular or heavy cotton (moleskin). The big pockets are ideal for when I go out on a photo-walk. The shorter than usual sleeves is a remnant feature from when they could get caught in the machines the workers were operating. (Photo: courtesy of Tourneur)
Florian Gadsby, Potter
Florian is a young potter based in London who for the last few years has documented his apprenticeship under Lisa Hammond and his own work on Instagram. He has amassed a huge audience in the process of doing so, to the point that whenever he announces that new pieces are available in his online shop, they sell out in seconds. I know as I’ve been trying to get one of his ceramic calligraphy pens for ages!
An Hourglass That Captures Dying Skills
At first glance, and with its ridiculous price of 12,000 USD, this limited edition hourglass by designer Marc Newson looks like a show-off toy for a rich kid. And it probably is, yet there’s some incredible design going into it. It exalts the senses in a hypnotising way, allowing you to see and listen to the passing of time. In the video linked below, Newson points out that the kind of people that make these products, where the object is blown by hand (mouth?), are disappearing and the skills are dying. This project was a chance for him “to be able to work with these people perhaps for the last time in history”.
Jiro Ono and René Redzepi Have a Cup of Tea
René Redzepi, from 2-star Michelin restaurant Noma, talks craftsmanship with sushi legend 3-star Jiro Ono (of Jiro Dreams of Sushi fame). In this wonderful conversation they discuss about innovation, tradition, failure, happiness, striving to get better and becoming a master at 50 years old. “If you don’t learn to love your work and remind your brain to make new steps every day, there can be no progress”.
Crafted Society, Luxury for Good
Martin Johnston and Lise Bonnet grew up surrounded by craftsmanship. Now they have launched their own brand, Crafted Society, dedicated to achieving a double goal: to create and sell beautiful products made by exquisite craftsmen like their cordwainer (shoemaker) Mario (pictured above), who has been perfecting his craft for the past 40 years; to have a positive social impact by keeping craftsmanship alive and teaching it to the next generation of makers. I will write more about Crafted Society soon, meanwhile go and explore the products and artisans on their website. (Photo: courtesy of Crafted Society)
Heavy Duty Sewing by Anton Sandqvist
Anton Sandqvist is known as the co-founder and driving force behind the namesake Swedish bag brand, born out from a side project. While their bags are beautiful, simple but classic, and durable, what caught my attention when I visited the Sandqvist shop in Stockholm was Anton’s book on heavy duty sewing. In it he shares how to fix, design and sew bags and other practical everyday items, helping shift the reader from being just a consumer into becoming a maker of things. For now it’s only available in Swedish.
Refettorio Felix, London
He might as well be a 3-star Michelin chef, but what stands out when you meet Massimo Bottura is the kindness of his soul, which manifests itself in the charity work he pursues. The latest is Reffettorio Felix in London, a canteen where crates of surplus ingredients arrive in the morning and seasoned chefs volunteer to transform them into tasty and nutritious meals for guests from vulnerable conditions. This reflects the social responsibility aspect that is a key component of the real craftsman.
FT Reviews Three Books on Craftsmanship
The Financial Times did an in-depth review of three books worth checking out. The books are: 1) Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy, by Richard E Ocejo ; 2) Down and Out in the New Economy: How People Find (Or Don’t Find) Work Today, by Ilana Gershon ; and 3) The Amateur: The Pleasure of Doing What You Love, by Andy Merrifield.
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