2010: Where it all began
In 2010 Catherine Lock, Co-founder and Creative Director of The New Craftsmen, went on a road-trip around the British Isles to discover and connect with our craft traditions and heritage, and understand what is being made by hand on our island. Over 5 months, Catherine met with talented makers in the nooks and crannies of Britain - from slipware potters of Devon to fishermen ‘gansey’ knitters of the Outer Hebrides - listening to their story and learning more about the meaning and significance of their craft. What she discovered was a network of distinct craft cultures defined by region, materiality, and history; all making beautiful pieces but with very little opportunity to have their work sold, understood and valued. It was from this realisation and the makers that Catherine met that The New Craftsmen was founded on.
2012-2014: The Mayfair Pop-ups
n 2011, Catherine was joined by Mark Henderson (Co-founder and Chairman) and Natalie Melton (Co-founder and Managing Director from 2012 to 2018). With their various experiences in craft, they felt that makers needed a more constructive route to market - a platform for their work to be celebrated and their story to be told in an authentic way. There was also a firm belief that there was a growing audience who wanted a more emotional connection to the objects surrounding them in their homes and a desire for the human touch in the creation of them.
The passion & enthusiasm for craft chimed with the values of Grosvenor estates, one of the leading landowners in Mayfair, who committed to supporting the venture with space to test and prove the concept.They generously offered an elegant four-story townhouse opposite The Connaught on Carlos Place for one month. The New Craftsmen opened its doors for the first time on 6th December 2012 and traded successfully through to Christmas. Carlos Place was quickly followed by a second space on Adams Row - a raw, atmospheric Victorian stable, its honesty lent itself to a more experiential exploration of craft and its roots for the duration of our ‘residency’ from June 2013 to December 2013. During this time, we built a strong and loyal client base who supported our mission to re-energise the presentation and perception of British craft.
2014: Our first permanent home at 34 North Row
Believing that the two pop-ups had given us a strong indication that there was a market and a need for The New Craftsmen, we ran a successful fundraising campaign, moved into a third Grosvenor Estates property: 34 North Row, in June 2014. The showroom was a unique space where the progressive presentation of craft could be enlivened and activated further combining product, service and experience. It was also at this time we began to hire a team to develop the business and – this included Yelena Ford, who built and grew the trade services offer dedicated to the needs of interior designers, architects and boutique hospitality and supported the more ambitious integration of craft into various interiors spaces. Through a strong creative approach, a passionate and professional team and an exceptional group of makers (now, well over 100) The New Craftsmen has become an international destination for the work of outstanding British Makers.
The New Craftsmen Showroom
2015-2017: Building a Global Brand and Audience
As well as running a showroom and trade service, we undertook ambitious partnerships with brands and places to showcase craft in unexpected ways and grow our brand. This included the Artist’s Retreat at Chelsea Flower Show (2015); showing twice at Decorex International creating a VIP lounge for House & Gardens (2015) and a 4-part installation called Craft House (2016); a groundbreaking collaboration with the Burberry to create Maker’s House, a completely immersive experience which activated and dramatised craft to tell the story of Christopher Bailey’s (then Creative Director & CEO) new collection (2016); an auction at Christie’s in partnership with South African gallery, Southern Guild, to auction the work of 15 makers (2017); defining a 3-month experiential campaign - A Home for All - at Selfridges to celebrate the meaning of ‘home’ and the role craft plays within it (2017); and a two-year partnership with the Craft Council to showcase British craft on the international stage with shows Design Miami / Art Basel in both Basel and Miami, including a craft-takeover at a penthouse apartment at the iconic 1 Hotel South Beach.
Image of the Maker's House installation in 2016 - a collaboration between The New Craftsmen and Burberry
2018-Present: Establishing the destination for crafted interiors
In 2018, Yelena Ford took over the running of the business from Natalie Melton. The last 2-years have seen The New Craftsmen focusing on the role and value of craft within the interiors space. Spanning furniture, lighting, artworks, textiles, decorative accessories and tableware, we have deepened our product portfolio to address the needs of the market with a conviction that our crafted collections, forged with makers of the British Isles, provide distinctive and utterly unique interiors products and services. The New Craftsmen is now a multi-channel destination for crafted interiors supported by a dedicated service team for both Trade and Private clients that works internationally, the launch of a new website and fully digitalised Trade Portal, and a Bespoke Studio situated in our Mayfair showroom. Together we are committed to growing the opportunity for craft and its makers in interiors, and work in various ways to realise ambitious projects.
The Beldi Project