Originality at Origin: Made not Manufactured

One of the most interesting aspects of the London Design Festival was the variety of shows included in the 9 day celebration. From the larger “bigger brand” shows like Decorex and 100% Design to the smaller venues like Origin that showcased the work of artists and artisans, there was inspiration everywhere.

Origin fell more into the latter category. Organized by the Crafts Council, this contemporary crafts fair in Spitalfields represented a wide range of designs from ceramics, furniture, metalwork and glass to fashion accessories, jewelry and knitwear. I love their slogan “Made not manufactured”

OriginOne recurring theme was the use of paper. Rebecca Coles was a definite favorite. The incredible detail of her work was astounding. She draws the shapes by hand and then assembles them using pieces of hand cut paper, specifically selected for their color or pattern. “I dissect small details of colour, imagery and text into silhouettes that are then re-sculptured, pinned and encased. My aim is to transform an every day object into a piece of work that invites the viewer to see beyond its original source.”


Her work has a delicate ethereal feel that seems to float in the shadow boxes.

OriginClaire Brewster, another paper artist, also works to revitalize what would normally be discarded, “celebrating the unwanted and giving new life to the obsolete”. Her art is made from old maps and atlases and reformed into natural shapes of birds, insects and flowers.


A different approach to paper is the art of Gill Wilson. Geometric in nature, her medium is organic plant fiber, inspired by her travels in Japan and India. The pulp is then hand dyed and formed to any size. Gill’s work has a purity and almost mathematical essence that is very architectonic and serene. In fact she says her recent work is inspired by sacred geometry.

Origin Craft Fair in LondonI think her work would be spectacular in the right space – it is graphic and dramatic yet neutral and almost contemplative, referencing the geometry ubiquitous in all natural forms.

Origin craft fair in LondonEsther Coombs is yet another artist who upcycles to create her art. Like several of the aforementioned artists, she repurposes found or discarded objects to give them new life and meaning. Her nostalgic homewares include vintage ceramics that she newly illustrates, as well as up-cycled printed tea towels and pillows. These vintage finds combined with Coombs decorative illustrations are a charming combination.

Origin Craft fair in LondonIn addition, Coombs was commissioned by Anthropologie to create a wallpaper for their collection, only available here in the US. It lined her booth as a background for her other work.

Origin Craft fair in London

In addition, she was commissioned to  produce illustrations for the windows of the Nicole Farhi Stores during London Fashion Week – busy girl!!

Origin craft fair in LondonThese are a mere few of the many talented artists seen at Origin. Their handcrafted creations, many using repurposed or recycled materials, were an inspiration to budding creative types everywhere, reinforcing the value of handmade and that stylish and sustainable are not mutually exclusive.

21 thoughts on “Originality at Origin: Made not Manufactured

  1. quite amazing. what magnificent minds and hands and hearts opening up and sharing with us such originality. incredible work!

  2. you go girl!!! Thanks for posting handmade artisans’ work – it is always appreciated. You see the glow in their faces, try getting THAT from a machine!!

  3. Just to meet these wonderful artists and see their work first hand is such a pleasure. I am drawn most to Gill Wilson, I think you are right that they could add so much impact to a space. And of course, illustrator Esther Coombs, her work is playful, but still sophisticated.

    Great Post..

  4. I’m loving seeing all of these creative and inspiring artists. Rebecca Coles work is stunning. What a painstaking process to create art that seems lighter than air. Would love to have one of her pieces…

  5. Oh. I really love the work of Gill Wilson–the strong geometric shapes and clean lines are fantastic–love being introduced to all these new artists!–have a great day! Barbara

  6. I like all of this. How on earth does Gill Wilson do that? So impressive. I can’t imagine how long it takes to produce. Rebecca’s work is quite lovely, would love to have some of it. I like “made not manufactured” very much.

  7. It’s all really lovely work you have featured here but Gill Wilson’s work took my breath away! How unbelievably beautiful! Thanks for all of these introductions to these talented artists! :)

  8. I also appreciate how cut paperworks balance precision with expression and these are certainly exacting! Thanks for recapping Origin;I am often notified of its arrival, but unable to just hop on over. . .

    I think you may like Vik Muniz’s solo exhibition at Sikkema Jenkins gallery in Chelsea (NYC, that is). It’s up now.

  9. Its’ funny how when I was young, I didn’t really appreciate art and artists as much as I do know. With 2 little creative souls that I’m responsible for raising, it is a high priority that they see, enjoy, appreciate and create art.

    All of the artwork shown above is fabulous…but my heart really leaped for that bird!!!

  10. So much talent! I really enjoy Esther Coombs works – so lovely! I’ve noticed that wallpaper on the Anthropologie website – it sounds like she’s on a roll :) xxKelly

  11. I LOVED this post. I forwarded to my friends and posted on our Facebook!
    How brilliant these artists are and I recognized the illustrations of the Anthropologie artist even before I read your text! I am going to go check out the pulp in acrylic though. Those are striking.

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