What you need to know about London Craft Week

Tony Chambers

Craft can sometimes feel like the neglected sibling of design. Makers tend to work quietly behind the scenes, and rarely receive the recognition they deserve. London Craft Week, a citywide celebration from 3-7 May, seeks to correct this injustice. With more than 230 workshops, demonstrations and talks, it will bring the unsung heroes of craft into the spotlight.

British craft stands front and centre, with a particularly strong showing from the fashion industry. Burberry is bringing out its artisans to explain the manufacturing of the signature trench coat, while Alfred Dunhill will open the doors to its leather workshop in Walthamstow. Elsewhere, designers Anya Hindmarch and Hussein Chalayan are giving talks on how they work with craftsmen, and the tailors of Savile Row are coordinating their windows to display individual pieces of an outfit that they have jointly produced for Jimmy Beaumont, a fictional 1920s character.

Offerings from other disciplines are just as alluring. Aston Martin is running a clay-modelling demonstration, while Plymouth-based Princess Yachts is showing the work of its furniture and metalworking teams. The Geffrye Museum is being taken over by upholsterer Second Sitters, which will put on an exhibition showcasing its industry —­ and the St Bride Foundation has a three-day workshop on hand bookbinding and heritage printing.

On the more contemporary end of the spectrum, Heatherwick Studio is organising a talk on digital fabrication methods, including laser-cutting, CNC routing and 3D printing. More eclectic programming includes a display of props from the recent blockbuster Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and a dessert-making session led by the executive pastry chef at Hotel Café Royal.

This is supplemented by a wealth of international content, including demonstrations in watchmaking, glassblowing and Kintsugi — the Japanese art of restoring broken items with lacquer and gold. Georg Jensen is bringing over a master silversmith from Copenhagen, while Swedish restaurant Aquavit is hosting a dinner using tableware by three Nordic ceramicists. There are store installations at Skandium and Bang & Olufsen (the latter by artist Rita Parniczky, offering an immersive experience based on the five senses). And at Carl Hansen & Søn, there’s an exhibition of early work by the Danish designer Hans Wegner.

I am most intrigued by the guitar-making demonstration by Spanish craftsman Felipe Conde, which precedes a recital by the flamenco guitar legend Juan Martin. What better way to celebrate craft than to observe the process of creation before admiring its results?

The building

Built in 1776 by Sir Robert Taylor, Ely House has served as a bishop’s palace, private members’ club and antiques showroom. It reopens this month as the London gallery of Austrian contemporary art dealer Thaddaeus Ropac, with interiors restored by New York-based architect Annabelle Selldorf. The opening shows include early work by Gilbert & George, sculpture by German conceptualist Joseph Beuys, and a new acoustic installation by rising star Oliver Beer. (ropac.net)

The person

Sculptor Rowan Mersh works predominantly with seashells, which he painstakingly assembles into intricate patterns. His ethereal works can soon be seen at his first solo show, Praeteritum, Praesens et Futurum, opening at Gallery Fumi on 19 May. This will also be Fumi’s first exhibition since moving from Hoxton Square to Mayfair’s Hay Hill, where it will neighbour contemporary design stalwart Galerie Kreo. (galleryfumi.com)

The object

Architect David Adjaye has made his first foray into acoustic design with the MA770, a concrete speaker for Master & Dynamic. It has a distinctive, sculptural appearance, with a clean rectangular front and a gracefully sloped back formed of a faceted triangle. Its material innovations include titanium tweeter domes, woven Kevlar woofers and diamond-cut aluminium controls, all intended to deliver an intimate user experience. £1,600 (masterdynamic.co.uk)

The experience

Following on from its mega-hit, multisensory show on Sixties culture, You Say You Want a Revolution?, the V&A is about to dedicate an entire exhibition to Pink Floyd. Opening on 13 May, this will be the rock band’s first international retrospective. In addition to more than 350 artifacts, including cover art, instruments, posters and architectural drawings, there will also be previously unseen concert footage as well as a newly created laser light show. Tickets £20 (vam.ac.uk)

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