There’s always been something intensely personal about purchasing items for your home. As if the furnishings we choose to see everyday and live our lives alongside need to say something not just about our aesthetic preferences, but also about who we are as individuals; what we believe and what we value.
So it’s no surprise to me that handmade and crafted products are increasing in popularity. Evidence across the UK shows an ‘enormous increase in interest in making, from high end purchases to everyday participation.’
I believe the current pandemic situation will only increase the interest in unique, non mass-produced items as experts and journalists(1) declare that ‘the pandemic has opened up an unprecedented opportunity to shift away from our excessive production-consumption cycle’.
It’s encouraging to see hand-made items becoming more valued in our culture as a way to step away from the conspicuous mass-produced consumption that has defined the last few decades, and move towards a market where individuality, craftsmanship, creativity and uniqueness is celebrated.
With wide-spread suggestion that the retail changes we’ve all seen during lockdown offer a ‘wake-up call for global consumerist culture’, our customers are among those who are keen to move past the meaningless accumulation of throw-away items and fill their homes with personalised, customised, beautiful pieces with a story.
Personal attachment to handmade items means pieces are cherished far longer, and rarely thrown away. It’s not surprising we’re seeing a growing market for customisation and an appetite for items with meaning.
The popularity of our hand-made lampshades is a great example of the attraction of hand-made. Customer feedback provides real-life feedback – without any need for research studies – to confirm the emotion people feel towards bespoke, customised or individual pieces.
For some, it’s a simple love-affair with the uniqueness and vibrancy of the lampshades; the knowledge that a hand-made shade will bring colour and style to their homes.
But for others, the aesthetic appeal is only the start of their interest – the satisfaction of being able to bring us a lamp base they already own and see it rejuvenated with a customised shade can be incredible.
We’ve been able to reinvigorate lamps that were broken, faded or wasting away in storage. We’ve given a fresh lease of life to lamps that were inherited or had personal meaning for the owners but that didn’t fit with their current interiors. And we’ve been able to create customised lampshades for customers, working around their personal style or with fabric they particularly love. Having the specialist skills and craftsmanship to create high-quality shades on-site, let’s us work really closely with customers to make something incredibly special.
And that, in a nutshell, is the beauty of hand-made. In contrast to the mindless spending associated with mass-produced consumption, crafted furnishings become an extension of ourselves. A collaboration between the creator and the customer and a way to imbue an item with the thought, detail, time and love that goes into creating it.
Whether we’re talking about our created lampshades, the chalk paint and workshops we offer to allow people to make their own meaningful pieces, or the unique vintage treasures we take such pleasure in discovering, the ethos of our business has always been centred around furnishings with depth and meaning.
The repercussions of Coronavirus and changes in the retail landscape will be felt for years to come, but I have no doubt it can encourage a trend we were already witnessing on the shop floor even before the pandemic began – a growing love of crafted, handmade items.
It’s encouraging to see the rest of the world waking up to the pleasure that comes from filling your home with mindfully purchased furnishings, brimming with creativity and joy.
And I’m proud that it’s something our customers already know.
About the Author: Sara Hughes is the creative brain behind Sara Hughes Home, a retail shop in the leafy riverside town of Marlow, Buckinghamshire featuring a beautiful, stylish collection of vintage and contemporary homeware and accessories. She trained at the prestigious St Martin’s School of Art in London and worked in ‘own brand product development’ for many years, as well as in various buying roles for well-known retailers such as Liberty, Habitat and Boots. She became Vice President of buying for Disney stores across Europe, before establishing her own retail business in 2013.
(1) Hossam Shaker “Coronavirus: A wake-up call for global consumerist culture”