Five unmissable design events in August: from Designer Crafts on the Mall to Bethnal Green's Bust Summer Craftacular

The Spotlight Festival brings art, craft, food, theatre and music to Seven Dials; designer-makers display high-quality wares at the Mall Galleries; and a trip to the Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design in Cheltenham is a must-see for all lovers of fine furniture.

1. Designer Crafts on the Mall 2016

From Friday until August 21, Mall Galleries, The Mall, SW1

This show, organised by the Society of Designer Craftsmen — which was founded in 1887 with William Morris and Walter Crane as early members — features the work of 130 modern members, all designer-makers of high-quality ceramics, furniture, glass, jewellery, metalwork, textiles and woodwork.

Notable glass-makers include Peter Layton and Adam Aaronson. Also see Edward Johnson’s furniture, Christine Meyer-Eaglestone’s marquetry and hand-woven textile hangings by Arliyah Hussain and Mayumi Kaneko.

We like: glass artist Cathryn Shilling’s Sea Foam blown glass piece with copper leaf, £375 Image: Ester Segarra

Prices from £75, but there’s also a super shop with items from £1 to £250.

Admission £5; £3 concessions; children go free.


2. The Cass: Hands On
Open now until September 3, Aram Gallery, 110 Drury Lane, WC2

Aram, with four floors in Covent Garden, is a big, cutting-edge design store with a dedicated gallery space, where founder Zeev Aram has supported new talent on countless occasions. This summer the spotlight is on The Cass art college, “nicknamed the Aldgate Bauhaus because of its gifted graduates”, says Riya Patel, show curator.

Cutting-edge design: Aram store with a dedicated gallery space

Patel is revealing how new and experimental design gets made, using as examples the inspirations and making processes of Cass alumni. Explore the stories behind silversmithing, jewellery and furniture making, upholstery and musical instrument making, set against a display of hand tools and a wall of experimental ceramics.


3. Spotlight Festival
Saturday August 13, Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2

The historic circle of Seven Dials will be closed to traffic for this free event, a madcap shout-out for art, craft, food, theatre and music. Fake grass will line the roads, with deckchairs galore.

Enjoy discounts, plus fun and frolics in abundant niche boutiques. Eight alfresco restaurants will serve a choice of eight cuisines — register online for a free glass of prosecco.

Foodie delights: David Bez, owner and founder of SaladPride in Neal’s Yard Image: Graeme Robertson

Interactive workshops and demonstrations include cheese tastings, wine and antipasti pairing, “salad styling”, pizza-making, and olive oil blending. Create a flower crown or buttonhole, and help stencil “Seven Dials” in giant letters. There’s also music on the stage, hobby-horse racing, giant garden games, free “live art”, and much more.


4. Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design
August 20-29, Thirlestaine Long Gallery, Cheltenham College, Bath Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

A must-see for all lovers of fine furniture, this show makes a fantastic day out in the Cotswolds, with a journey time of about two hours from London by train or car.

It’s the UK’S largest exhibition of contemporary bespoke furniture — plus some smaller handmade pieces — with everything for sale or available to commission.

Meet enthusiastic, highly skilled designer-makers from more than 75 workshops, and inspect up to 300 exhibits, from little boxes and bowls to imposing beds and capacious cupboards, simply styled in solid wood or decorated with ornate veneers, curves and carving.

We love: Alun Heslop’s Dragon Kre Chair from

Newer materials include plastics and metals, and contemporary techniques embrace laser cutting, CNC machines and complicated moulds. Prices range from £100 to £40,000, and you can commission a treasure for your home, a gift, or a commemorative piece.

Admission £6, catalogue £5.


5. BUST Summer Craftacular
Sunday August 21, 11am-5pm, York Hall, 5-15 Old Ford Road, E2

Make-it-yourself is big in America, reports Debbie Stoller, founder/editor of cult US craft magazine BUST, which is in London for a one-day summer shindig. Find handmade bargains, seconds and one-offs from the likes of popular illustrator Rob Ryan, and all-day workshops by trendy jewellers Tatty Devine.

Cool down: Mexican-inspired ice lollies from the Paleta Girls

You can also paint a plant pot, cut out a word banner and blend your own hair oil. Socialise at a pop-up café from Drink, Shop & Do of King’s Cross, or cool down with Mexican-inspired ice lollies from the Paleta Girls. Entrance is £3 on the door with goody bags for the first 100 visitors.



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