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Perfecting the Art of Craft

Craft Design House finds a growing market for unique, affordable artworks

LIKE the unique pieces it sources Craft Design House, an online marketplace showcasing the work of artists and artisans, is a one-off.

This article originally appeared in the Enterprise section of the DAILY EXPRESS, in print on 18th October and online in the City & Business News on 23rd October 2017.  WrittenBy MAISHA FROST

Craft Design House: Reconnecting product with process and customer with creator from Craft Design House on Vimeo.

There’s the prices for a start, from £12 to £12,000, designed for customers and businesses hankering for something that’s out-of-the-ordinary, an original or limited edition, but not costing the earth.

Then there’s the company’s own model that connects a growing market directly with both leading and emerging, often isolated studio-based businesses, whose objects of desire range from jewellery, fashion and textiles to ceramics, furniture and lighting.

Online marketplaces are far from new, but Craft Design House (CDH) is fashioning a bigger role for itself with a portfolio of additional services.

Business-to-business platform SOURCE is aimed at companies from the retail, tourism, hospitality and wedding sectors, enabling them to commission bespoke pieces, gifts and tableware.

An offline Distinctive Retail service is for clients who want to feature the work of designer makers in their venues while Private Gathering organises launch events.

“We are a way for talents to profit,” Gillian Scott, Craft Design House founder.

And recognising customers, whether retail or corporate, are keen to know the story and provenance of their purchase these days, CDH has also introduced a new Behind the Design Trail app which shows where and how a piece was made.

Owner founder Gillian Scott set up the company last year in Edinburgh, after a childhood among artisans in Italy and career in tourism where she frequently encountered small creative concerns.

CDH came about from her judging here was an opportunity to harness a wealth of overlooked and unconnected artistic talent and craftsmanship in the UK, and the time was right for a slow art movement to counter the sales frenzy taking hold in other quarters.

“We live in a society where most products are disposable and mass-produced. Craft is still regarded more as a low value hobby. But we’re the antithesis of that – how a product is made is as important as the object itself. ” she explains.

“Our customers range from millennials who want difference and accessibility to older clients interested in ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’.

“We are a way for talents to profit, with the efficiency of cutting-edge technology under a digital roof streamlining their route to market. This gives artists time to focus on what is most important –  on being creative and producing work – which in turn helps  increase their output.”

So far CDH, run by a team of six women and welcome input from Santander’s Internship Programme, has a curated roster of 100 designer makers in the UK with plans to open up the platform to European studios next year.

The company manages the scale, variety and availability of work, guaranteeing authenticity throughout the supply chain, says Scott.

“We provide styling, consultancy and design-led props and tools including video, imagery and story brochures so our designer partners have innovative ways to increase sales and brand awareness.

“They have to offer an accessible piece as part of their price range, encouraging a wider audience to build passion and understanding of craftsmanship. That’s part of how we become a go-to destination.”

With some revenues coming from commissions and royalties, Scott has put £100,000 into the venture, along with £65,000 from enterprise grants and loans.

Second year turnover is forecast to be £235,000 as the project scales and looks to a launch in the US.

Currently among the most sought-after are functional, beautiful pieces such as Inner Finn’s porcelain hug mugs and Camilla Lee’s Resound iPhone amplifier collection that enhances the streamed sounds through natural materials such terracotta and walnut and oak.

Next year CDH’s corporate clients will have access to an exclusive collection marking design and artists supremo Charles Rennie Macintosh’s centenary.

“Our platform,” says Scott, “is about engagement and learning. We hope to transform life for designers and artists.”


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