Show Report: MADE London Design and Craft Fair Debuts, Takes Up Mantle from Origin

Show Report: MADE London Design and Craft Fair Debuts, Takes Up Mantle from Origin

The last weekend of October, I headed over to Marylebone to get a look at MADE London, the new design and craft fair organised by the people behind Brighton’s well-regarded MADE events and the Brighton Art Fair. Showcasing the work of 150 British designer-makers, MADE London was looked at by some as a possible successor to Origin, and I think it certainly made its case, with a high standard of show and work overall. Read on for more of my take on the show.

The Space

MADE London took place at One Marylebone, a Grade I listed deconsecrated church built in the 1820s and designed by Sir John Soane. The location was prominent, by Regents Park, where busy Euston Road turns into Marylebone Road. All three levels — the ground floor Soane Hall, the first floor Galleries and the basement — were in use. The ceiling details and chandeliers were gorgeous, and the natural light in first floor Galleries a really nice touch. Surely people are inclined to spend more when they’re in a grand setting, with chandeliers like this:

The Attendees

By all accounts, the event was well-attended, perhaps even exceeding expectations. Exhibitors reported that on the Friday opening day, there was a queue that snaked around the venue. On my visit Saturday afternoon, the cafe in the crypt had run out of food. Impressive, especially considering admission was £10, though there were 2-for-1 coupons widely available.

The organisers obviously did a great job getting the word out to the right craft-appreciating audience. The crowd was definitely a West London audience, generally less hipster-ish, older, and wealthier, than those at East London events, with a willingness to spend more on craft products, expecting and recognising a high standard of quality.

Exhibitors in Soane Hall on the ground floor

The Exhibitors

The West London location was reflected in the selection of exhibitors at MADE London. Glassware, artwork, ceramics, jewellery, and textiles (home and fashion accessories) were well-represented. There were a couple of stands of clothing, including drapey pieces from Somerset by Terry Macey and Angelika Elsebach and gorgeous tweed coats and jackets by Eloise Grey. I didn’t see any stands of ironic T-shirts and edge-y screenprints so prevalent at East London fairs. (Actually, I don’t recall seeing any printmakers at all.)

Exhibitors mostly had white display stands on the ground and first floors.

In the first floor Galleries, jeweller Yuki Sasakura-Assiter

In the first floor Galleries, textile designer Ekta Kaul‘s stand

In the basement, grey arches allowed for designers to exhibit as a group, with a couple of exhibitors tucked up on the mezzanine level.

Basement and crypt level, where the cafe was located.

Exhibiting as part of the group Pod 5, ceramicist Jo Davies and jeweller Poly Philippou.

A High Standard

When it was quietly announced by the Crafts Council in January 2012 that Origin, the high-profile craft fair, was not going ahead, there was much disappointment amongst designer-makers, even amidst widespread acknowledgement that the standard of the show had declined in recent years. Still, Origin is frequently used as the benchmark for a quality show and quality exhibitors. I overheard an older woman remark to an exhibitor that she was pleasantly surprised by the high standard of work at MADE London, that the quality was comparable to what used to be on show at Origin or the Chelsea Crafts Fair (which was replaced by Origin in 2006). Indeed, a good number of the exhibitors at MADE London had been exhibitors at Origin in years past.

Well done to the MADE team!

You may also like: My favourite finds from the MADE London show.