Collect: objects of desire

Collect is the Craft Council's selling exhibition, showcasing the best international craft from the world's premier galleries
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As London establishes itself as the design capital of the world, the city is breeding a consumer phenomenon: the “super connoisseur”.

According to trends forecaster Future Foundation, super connoisseurs put a premium on good design, wanting to know the story of a product’s origins, how it is produced and have evidence of its uniqueness.

This new group also seeks items that have “clear links to a time, place or culture.”

Future Foundation says super connoisseurs know the value of good design to their own reputations: “Owning them shows to the world that we are sophisticated, knowledgeable, interior-design literate consumers.”

Contemporary craft fits the bill perfectly but where do super connoisseurs go to find the latest and most exciting crafted furniture and homeware in town?

Yellow Coral Bowl
© Courtesy The Scottish Gallery/Katherine Coleman
Yellow Coral Bowl by Katherine Coleman

Inspired by nature

Collect is the Craft Council’s selling exhibition, offering the best and most interesting international craft to be found anywhere. It opens next week at the new style‑savvy venue of the Saatchi Gallery with the world’s premier galleries (16 from Britain and 27 from overseas) there to show “objects of desire” from furniture to wall hangings in every material from stone to luxurious textiles.

Many of the makers are inspired by their environment and the materials they see around them. Max Lamb (The Scottish Gallery), whose range of 10 chairs first featured in Homes & Property when he was Royal Academy student, is inspired by the granite landscapes of his family’s hometown of St Austell, the capital of Cornwall’s china clay industry.

Max Lamb's granite chairs
Max Lamb's granite chairs carved from the spoil of St Austell's china clay industry
“I collected pieces of granite abandoned by the wayside,” says Lamb. “From them, using traditional carving skills, I can carve small furniture items.” Lamb’s work has become so celebrated that he now commands high prices in London’s design/art markets.

Mia Görransson’s delicate, softly coloured ceramics (Flow) are also inspired by nature. Her fragile cast‑clay pots evoke the buds and leaves of spring peaking through the late snows of her native Sweden.

Extreme weather, as often experienced in Iceland, is the inspiration for silversmith Pétur Tryggvi (Galleri Montan), whose twisted silver platters reflect the contrast between benign summers and cruel winters.

Gareth Neal
© Courtesy Galerie Sofie Lachaert/Tamsin van Essen
Gareth Neal's Queen Anne-style furniture is made from thin slivers of American Oak timber
Reworking traditional techniques is a strong feature of contemporary craft. Helen London reinvents filigree for her silver bowls (Bishopsland) and David Clarke cuts and reassembles old silver into new functional objects (Galerie SO) while Yuki Ferdinandsen makes sleek boxes, platters and handbags using the Japanese Arare technique (Galleri Montan).

“It involves making tiny ball-shapes in rows on the surface of the metal,” says the silversmith. “In my Arare objects the small points create light and shadow on the white silver surface.”

Joe Hogan’s strangely shaped baskets are made using the traditional wicker-weaving methods once familiar to Irish fisherman (Crafts Council of Ireland).

Sandwiches of timber Gareth Neal (Contemporary Applied Arts) uses his hands and computer to build Queen Anne-style furniture from sandwiched slices of timber, while Michael Eden makes ceramics reminiscent of perforated Wedgewood urns using a 3D digital technology.

Tall vessel - Mediterranean Blue
© Courtesy Cultural Connections/Alev Siesbye
Alev Siesbye's Tall Vessel (Mediterranean Blue)
Felicity Aylieff makes mammoth dragonfly covered vessels (Clare Beck at Adrian Sassoon), Tamsin van Essen distort the surfaces of her pots to portray different medical conditions and Bram Boo exaggerates unlikely forms in his bizarre, wooden, cubic, prehistoric animal-like furniture (both Sofie Lachaert). Collect is certainly where to go for the unique.

Collect: Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Headquarters, King’s Road, SW3
From 15 to 17 May 2009; 11am to 8pm Friday and Saturday, until 4pm Sunday.
Tickets in advance, £10 (plus booking fee, call 0844 209 0338), £15 on the door, concessions, £10, season ticket, £20.
‘Start the Weekend’ tickets are valid on Friday 15 May, from 5:30 to 8pm.
Special ticket offer: Admission to the fair plus a catalogue will cost £25 (instead of £35) if you print this page and take it along.

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