I was at the Crafts Council's annual conference a few weeks ago, Assemble, where there was an interesting line up of speakers, including Martin Raymond from trend forecasters Future Laboratory, Emily Campbell from the RSA and a wonderful talk from Matthew B Crawford who has written the recent NYT best seller The Case for Working with Your Hands; Why Office Work is Bad for You and Fixing Things Feels Good .

Raymond was there to offer insight into the consumer market for craft, which apparently is doing quite well considering the economic recession. However, he made a rallying cry to makers everywhere that they need to become much more visible with their skills and expertise. He noted that he had recently been to see fashion brand Louis Vuitton, who are planning on having craftspeople working in their shop on Bond Street, making bespoke products. Craft and authenticity have been the words used to describe a new 'luxury' for a while now, but it's not enough anymore for consumers to know something has been made by hand and with great skill - they want to actually see it being made in front of them.

He made a plea to makers to try to win this territory and to see this as a unique opportunity to work with brands and retailers. As Guardian journalist Libby Brooks describes it in her review of the conference, this is where brands are 'appropriating the operative language of craft'. Of course, this is not to everyone's taste, and I sensed a note of dismay from certain makers who would never dream of getting involved with luxury brands, let alone have the marketing skills that would get them noticed.

But, ironically it seems that consumers are actually becoming more inclined to buy craft and less inclined to buy luxury goods and that overall spending on craft appears to be holding up better than spending on luxury goods, art and design. This came from a report that the Craft Council have commissioned which showed that craft is seen as being more 'genuine' and 'personal' than luxury/art/design and that luxury in particular, is starting to have negative connotations such as being 'too expensive' and being too concerned with status.
Hopefully this will help the craft market in benefiting from this strong consumer trend for authenticity and connoisseurship.


We have just uploaded some new podcasts that capture the work of three of our BA graduates from this year, as a 'taster' to the fabulous new content that will be available on our new website which is coming soon!

Becky Earley is in conversation with the graduates as they discuss their final year work and research topics. Katherine Redman (images above) talks about designing bespoke woven car interiors for car lovers, Lauren T Franks discusses her explorations of the ethics of materials and fibres, and Bridget Harvey reflects on what 'slow design' means to her and her studio practice.
These three students were chosen as they reflect the rich and diverse approaches to sustainability that we teach here at Chelsea, whether it be through fashion or interior textiles. The students become 'experts' in taking the sustainable design ideas we encourage them to explore and trying them out through their studio practices.


More feedback from our Summer Debate last month:

"The talk was very insightful, particularly the discussions about designers and scientists needing to have a closer relationship and more collaborations. I was also interested in what Otto von Busch said about the increased need for emotion in design - not a revelation, but so relevant as (it seems) being ecologically sound in production will not be enough in the long term.

Kieran Jones's comments about designing for a geographically and physically changing world and not just making it a greener one, was also an I idea I'd like to explore further..." Alison Gough, Stylus Trends Consultancy

Image: Kieren Jones


The work of several TED Members including Becky Earley, Melanie Bowles and Clara Vuletich is to be included in an exhibition called reTHINK! at the Audax Textile Museum in Tilberg, Holland.

The exhibition will be exploring the lifecycle of textiles from a sustainability perspective and will include examples from fashion, interior and product design. other designers being showcased include Christien Meindertsma, Atelier NL, Suzanne Lee and Kate Goldsworthy.

Becky Earley will be making a new piece of work based on her Top 100 series over the summer so watch this space!


We have had some great feedback from participants at the Agenda's debate a few weeks ago, and while we wait to get the audio edited and transcripts available, the conversation continues:

"I thought the event was stimulating and thought provoking, as usual. On a practical level for undergraduates trying to engage with sustainability, I am most interested in the possibilities offered by synthetic fibres - for their potential for more efficient dye-sublimation printing processes, and in terms of end of lifecycle recycling possibilities. The potential of 'upcycling' and re-working vintage pieces / creating 'vintage' for the future is also of interest." Claire Lerpiniere, De Montfort University

It is great to hear how different tutors are taking different and unique approaches to these issues.
Image: TED Interconnected Design Workshop, Berlin