September 7th, 2023

“When you want to make something truly beautiful and meaningful, you have to separate craftsmanship from mere production” – Jonathan Ive

In this article we’ll be delving into:                               [Image Credit: Natasha Levy]


_ Tactile Therapy

_ The Hobby Economy

_ Cultivating Craft

_ Capturing Culture

Can craft be luxury?

While craftsmanship is associated with skill, dedication and quality, there can often be negative connotations associated to it as well, branding craft as amateur, unpolished, and rigid. Amateur and rigid, we disagree, but unpolished? Perhaps yes but we believe this can be what adds character to design and helps to provide a refreshing alterative to the mass production that consumers are looking to reject.

On the surface, luxury is usually associated with glitz and glamour, high price points and hyper-exclusivity, but this isn’t always the case. We believe luxury can be about craft too. Many luxury brands are known for their exceptional craftsmanship through the attention to detail, artistry, and power of storytelling.

How this affects retail?

Retail responds to consumers’ wants and needs, their values and standpoints, as well as their aspirations. So much so that if brand’s do not align with the evolving consumer, it can be the reason for a consumer not investing in your brand again. In our previous blog we discussed why we have seen a resurgence of craft culture but in this article, we will be revealing how craft can be translated into retail design solutions. The idea that consumers are learning to recognise and reclaim the value of their leisure time supports the notion that consumers are looking for retail spaces that also respond to this change. Consumers are wanting to shop in spaces that reflect their personality.

This can be achieved through several ways.  The following examples are definitely not an exhaustive list but could spark inspiration for your instore brand identity that celebrates craft…

1)Tactile Therapy.


With more people discovering the value of tactility and hands on experiences, the makers movement is moving into the mainstream, looking for new ways to disconnect from the digital distractions and experience a connect to craft. For one, these creative pursuits offer a calmer and more serene experience. Humans have a deep and innate connections with tactility, rooted in both biological and physical factors. Touch can evoke strong emotion responses, fostering feelings of trust, connection, and emotional well-being. This can be important for brands who are trying to develop strong relationships with their customers. Interacting with objects through touch can enhance engagement as well as being a powerful non-verbal source of communication, conveying a wide range of emotions and messages, often more effectively than words.

Fashion house, Loewe, reopened its Barcelona flagship with craft at its core. The space, designed to mimic a gallery space, is dissected with an undulating bamboo installation which wraps around the store’s surfaces. As craft is an integral element of Loewe’s identity, it was crucial that the store also showcased various artists and artwork. We love how the space epitomises innovation and craftsmanship through the use of raw materials, natural sculptures and artwork by the Loewe’s Craft Prize.

[Image Credit: Loewe]

2) Hobby Economy.


According to the BBC, in the UK, 76% of consumers block out stress and anxiety through the use of craft and creative activities. With our lives only getting increasingly busier, consumers are looking for ways to disconnect. This may be through reinvigorating their hobbies or introducing new ones, blurring the lines between leisure and wellbeing. This has been especially evident since lockdown when we had time, in excess, to experiment with new hobbies and pastimes. Welcome to the hobby economy. Craft, whether that be drawing, ceramics, painting, embroidery, or woodwork, is confirmed to improved mental and physical health which is why the presence of craft is being encouraged in various sectors and not just our personal lives. ‘Hobbyists’ are enjoying the hand rendered, quirky approach to design, and retail is no exception.

Fort Makers gallery have created an immersive space that harnesses the ‘power of play’ through its colourful plush furniture, vibrant sketches, and painterly expressions. The puffy exhibit is awash with hand rendered artistry which embodies craft. Visitors are encouraged to touch, swing, reconfigure and sit within the space to enjoy moments of reflection and incite creative thinking.

[Image Credit: Fort Makers]

3) Cultivating Craft.


Beyond boosting wellbeing, craft culture offers a way to tap into the ‘learning economy’. Over the past few years there has been increasing popularity in crafting group, clubs, and memberships, both offline and online, with ‘61% of UK Gen Z’s having attended a craft-based class in the past year’. Brands and retailers are looking to leverage this by offering their customers new learning opportunities, doubling up on reasons to visit a store. ‘Making things and creativity are important for making active, vibrant environments’ and with young people having a deep interest in upcycling and DIY, craft culture has been able to flourish.

Minimalist jewellery and ceramics store, set in a converted pub in Marylebone, provides a space to showcase Hollie Bowden’s beautifully crafted products as well as hosting an array of craft-focussed classes. By creating a multifunctional space, this allowed customers to ‘enter the world of Hollie Bowden and allow customers them to get to know us, and for us to get to know them in a space that reflected our vision’. We love how the interactive workshop allows consumers to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the products whilst unleashing their creative flair.

[Image Credit: Natasha Levy]

4) Capturing Culture.


Craft and culture are intricately connected, with craft often serving as a reflection and embodiment of cultural values, tradition and identity. Craft refers to the creation of objects by skilled artisans using traditional techniques and materials which are often linked to a brand’s cultural roots. The presence of craft when talking about culture can be an expression of identity as well as aiding a brand’s narrative. However, when incorporating or introducing different cultures into a design concept, it is crucial to ensure that no culture is appropriated and that either the culture is firmly linked to a brand’s heritage or the culture used for inspiration is acknowledged.

Fashion brand, Jaspal, have successfully intertwined Thai culture into their retail concept through using locally sourced materials that included traditional handmade ceramics and rattan. The array of contrasting surfaces also feature linen and wood to a create a concept that pays homage to the brand’s roots while still ensuring it upheld a contemporary feel, befitting its retail environment.

[Image Credit: Jaspal]

How will you incorporate craft into your store or retail activation?

Get in touch to discuss your project with one of our talented retail design specialists. We can turn your idea into a reality and manage the project through the stages – from its design through to its final implementation.

Let’s talk