Earth, Wind and Fire: elemental inspiration for our homes from the world’s leading craft designers.
During the cold and rainy season (the last one, not our current summer), I escaped the brutal elements outside and stepped into the Saatchi Gallery. For a couple of magical hours, I explored how the world’s premium-end craft workers draw inspiration from nature to create works of breathtaking beauty at Collect – the Craft Council’s annual international exhibition, now something of a landmark in the design calendar.
As I wandered the halls of over 400 artists from thirteen countries, I was struck how we browse for a few minutes works that have taken over a year to perfect. Perhaps we should linger more often. Craft’s power to tell stories, explore ideas and to merge the beauty of nature’s own design with the skill of the artist is at a peak right now. I’m sharing some of the irresistible highlights here.
Regular readers will know my personal weakness for blue and white ceramics. Self taught Korean ceramicist, Lee Eun takes this classic combination to new heights with Sea. A thousand slender porcelain tiles in graded blues and whites are applied in rippling rows to canvas, creating a horizon seascape in homage to her early childhood by the ocean. (see image above)
Equally alluring, on a more domestic scale, Belgian Piet Stockman Gallery’s Blue Composition, Plateau with 24 Cups evokes uplifting blues and whites of summer skies.
The versatility of the ceramicists at Collect continued. Valeria Nascimento’s Rainforest Installation is a mesmerizing mobile of porcelain seeds, tiny petals, flowers and branches suspended from ceiling to floor, which ripple in the breeze, creating soft chimes evocative of light rainfall or crushing leaves.
Another find was Vezzini and Chen’s Sand & Water & Acropora light design, an artful marriage of hand-blown glass in shell-like whirls, harbouring translucent pods of carved ceramic. I love how it treads a fine line between the functional and the conceptual.
Finally, one of the standout pieces of the exhibition was this rug.
The Ruby Embers is a collaboration between photographic artist Fabian Miller and Dovecot Tapestry Studio. It’s a striking response to the fact that light in domestic spaces often emanates from its heart: the fire and hearth.
It’s always good to shake up how we see the materials we work with every day, to remember ceramics need not be limited to bathrooms and kitchen, that a light fitting can double as a work of art; that focal, fiery warmth can hang on the wall, not just burn in the grate.
Collect is over, but many of these high-end crafters exhibit in London and have studios here. They are well worth exploring. Crafts are having a renaissance now, worldwide. Investing a few hours catching up with the leading talents in their fields can invigorate and inspire our eye for home design.