Design Originals, Crafted for Life

Our Maker Difference campaign launched in 2009 and explored some of the broader benefits (to people and planet) of buying hand-crafted work. The campaign generated a huge buzz and over 12,000 people registered their support. Our Maker Difference Manifesto remains just as relevant today. This year we are particularly focusing on ‘Design Originals, Crafted for Life’ – investing in pieces with longevity and making a difference to the landfill. Scroll down to read about our survey on this topic and read case studies and more in our shopping news.

Sustainable Craft Picks

For Summer Open Studios 2013 eco design expert Oliver Heath has also selected designer-maker businesses at Cockpit Arts with sustainability at the heart of their practice.  His ‘Sustainable Craft Picks’ will be celebrated at our Summer Open Studios with a series of special showcases. Read more below:

The Sustainable Wood Turner – Eleanor Lakelin 

“Eleanor’s work reveals the beauty that hides deep within nature, making precious those pieces others may discard. Her finished designs mirror the individuality and uniqueness of the material from which they are made, making us realise that even the humblest of nature’s products are valuable in themselves. Building strong connections with nature are essential for us to respect the need for sustainable lifestyles and these products do just that. I find them beautiful, personal and unique.” – Oliver Heath

Eleanor Lakelin handcrafts bowls, vessels and sculptural objects using only wood from trees already felled in the British Isles due to disease, decay or occasionally development. Using traditional turning and carving techniques with lathes and chisels, Eleanor breathes new life into these pieces.

The Mistresses of Up-Cycled Teasewear – Holloway Smith Noir

“I love that sustainability is making its way into the boudoir. I hear endless politicians saying that we need eco thinking to be sexy, and I can’t imagine it getting sexier than this! Their up-cycled vintage style is ingenious, sumptuous and unconventional. They’re a show stopper and we need sustainable thinking to do just that – to stand out, and to appeal to both the practical and deeply emotional sides of our lives.” – Oliver Heath

Holloway Smith Noir is the collaboration between sisters Alice Holloway-Smith and Sophie Holloway. Together they create up-cycled luxury bespoke lingerie, burlesque costumes and a unique range of teasewear accessories using hand sourced vintage or organic materials.

The Eco Textile Printer – Tamasyn Gambell

“As with many of the best sustainable products, the benefits spread much further than those enjoyed by the end user. Tamasyn’s products consider their impact from the outset, taking into consideration the materials, manufacturers and use. This depth of thinking and process takes time and enormous effort to pull together, so it’s a delight that Tamasyn’s products are so beautiful as well.” – Oliver Heath

Tamasyn Gambell believes in high quality, timeless design using the most eco friendly methods available. Her lampshades and cushions are made using natural, un-dyed Irish linen from one of the last remaining mills in Ireland. The fabric is then hand screen-printed in her studio using water-based pigments. Each lampshade and cushion is hand made in the UK.

The Ethical Jeweller – Ute Decker

“Ute has embraced ethical jewellery and sustainable sourcing with real fervour, becoming a highly motivated and recognised expert in the field. Combine this knowledge base with her stunning architecturally inspired forms and you have a piece of jewellery that has as good a narrative as it is to wear.” – Oliver Heath

Ute is a leading proponent of ethical jewellery.  In February 2011 she became one of the first jewellers to launch a collection in the world’s first Fairtrade and Fairmined gold. Actively engaged in campaigning for ethical ‘good practice’ from mine to jewellery-box, Ute strives to apply the most sustainable studio practices: using Fairtrade gold, 100% recycled silver, recycled packaging and substituting traditional toxic resins with bio-resins.

Craft & Longevity at Cockpit

Our Open Studios events are open to all and frequented by shoppers, stylists, design enthusiasts and craft collectors alike. Earlier this year we asked our shoppers to fill in a survey which highlighted a strong link between craft and longevity. When asked their reasons for buying craft, many factors were highlighted but an overwhelming 100% of shoppers stated that quality was important or very important. Over 95% felt that originality, style and supporting small independent businesses were also important or very important, 5% being unsure.

In relation to craft and longevity over 90% agreed:

  • That they had items by designer-makers which they intended to keep for life
  • They valued work by designer-makers over mass produced work and generally kept crafted items for longer than those that were mass produced
  • They would rather invest in one well-made ‘long lasting’ piece than several cheaper more ‘disposable’ pieces.

Buying for longevity is more sustainable, something that we will be celebrating at our Open Studios this year.


More About Maker Difference

‘It is great to hear about the Cockpit Art’s Maker Difference campaign. When you come across something that is really pretty and special, the knowledge that it has been made locally and that you could even see it being created, gives you confidence that the UK is producing and will continue to produce wonderful work. The media would have people believe that we no longer create excellent products in the UK. Just because the focus is not on fridges and cars, it doesn’t mean that there are not hundreds of creative people working away, in studios like this, designing and making beautiful work, which is a complete joy to have’.
– Kirstie Allsopp

‘People often ask me where I get my ties, even my shoes and socks, the answer is one of many craft outlets and shows. If you want to wear something distinctive, something hand crafted and thereby unique, craft studios like Cockpit, and craft shows across the country is where you find them. That’s why I strongly support Cockpit’s ‘Maker Difference’ campaign’.
– Jon Snow


The campaign was highlighted on a special Maker Difference microsite designed by I-D Media and you can still view the archive site. The quirky launch event in June attracted a host of celebrity guests, who signed our Maker Difference manifesto and got their hands messy throwing pots to help raise awareness.

Special Events

Other events throughout the year included special Maker Difference Open Studios. As well as all of the wonderful work on show, these were full of exciting happenings, tours, film screenings and activities which attracted a record breaking number of visitors through the doors at Cockpit Arts.

Pop up Studio

For the London Design Festival we brought Cockpit Arts to the masses, re-creating one of our studios in central London as a live and interactive installation. This pop-up studio, featuring letterpress printers SORT, provided a taste of what happens behind the scenes at Cockpit Arts to thousands of Carnaby shoppers.


We are delighted that the Crafts Council is now taking up the Maker Difference mantle with their Craft Matters campaign – so please join up today.