Falling in love with an object you spot online — or even in a shop or gallery — is no guarantee that it will work in your own home. It may look tempting, but can you use it and how will it fit in among all the other things in your home?
A new selling exhibition at Contemporary Applied Arts (CAA) aims to make life a bit easier for potential buyers. CAA has turned its gallery into a domestic living space — a kind of loft apartment — showing how to mix and match one-off or small-batch handmade items with mass-manufactured furniture.
It's the idea of curator Brian Kennedy. He says: "Mid-century modern is so popular at the moment that I wanted to show people you can mix it with functional domestic, but affordable pieces by contemporary craftmakers." To that end, he has collaborated with Rocket Gallery, a specialist in mid-century modern furniture, which has provided pieces by renowned Dutch and Danish designers, as well as Benchmark Furniture, which is showing pieces designed by CAA craftspeople.
The furniture is combined as it would be at home, with textiles, ceramics, glass, wood and metalwork, but in this case all designed and mostly made by craft makers. "At home, I am surrounded by handmade things, which I use daily," says Kennedy. "Using them daily brings something special into my life. I have mugs I bought 20 years ago that I use daily and still cherish."
Kennedy is keen to promote craftmakers' talent in designing for the high street and how well their handmade and machine-made pieces work together.
Ptolemy Mann designs items such as digitally printed ikat textiles for John Lewis, but at the CAA one of her bespoke rugs and some of her John Lewis cushions are used alongside ceramics by Janice Tchalenko, some handmade and others from her designs for Poole potteries.
Chris Keenan's domestic ceramics for Habitat are mixed with individual one-off pieces alongside some of the small runs of functional ware he makes himself. Asta Barrington, known for her textiles, shows her skill as a pattern designer in her new commercially produced trays and table mats. There is furniture for Benchmark (Terence Conran's furniture company) by Katie Walker, Wales & Wales and Kay + Stemmer, children's furniture by Alex MacDonald — the background for one-off lamps by glass blower Mark Vickers, as well as teaware by Stuart Carey and glass bottles by Hélène Uffren, both new graduates.
DomesticMATTERS runs until October 20, 2012, at Contemporary Applied Arts, 2 Percy Street, W1 (020 7436 2344; caa.org.uk)