This may come as a surprise to many but as someone who was raised within a family that had no predilection for artist endeavours, we were always taught to appreciate craftsmanship above all. True luxury wasn’t about the brand (at all) but the craftsmanship behind the product. Weekend adventures with my mother involved everything from visiting local pottery makers in rural Nova Scotia (in the summer months) to touring the major (and minor) arts institutions across the globe. And there was always one common element that permeate all these adventures – the love someone puts into their work is evident if you are open to seeing it. I carry this notion with me to this very day; I am always on the hunt for local craftsman (and craftswoman) when I visit cities. I feel inspired by the passion and their level of care – care for the craft, care for the details for that is where you find god (and beauty and luxury).
The hunt for local craftsman can be exhausting (but it is also the hunt that I love as much as the find – must be the academic still buried deep within me) but thankfully I am not the only one out there on the hunt to discover the ‘crafts. There are city guides by Wallpaper or websites like Cool Hunting or A Continuous Lean. And now I have a new favourite to add to my list – The Balvenie Commission.
The Balvenie Commission feels like Balvenie’s answer to Prada’s Fondazione or LV’s La Fondation but here is the rub – it’s not like those at all. It’s accessible to us all (thank you world wide web) and its focus on craftsmanship or artistry is refreshing and not at all pretentious. The site features articles, videos and photography that bring the reader into the world of craft by exploring the lives and works of the makers, and provides us all with a global hub for those passionate about making things by hand. There is a beauty in the handmade that can never be duplicated in the mass manufacture – there is beauty in those imperfections (the tool marks, the evidence of hands, etc). The site also showcases The Balvenie’s commitment to craftsmanship through articles that showcase the results of its Commission bursary, which has funded many collaborations with makers around the world.
Discover the work of G.J. Cleverley – who has been making handmade shoes for over 50 years in London.
Or Nino Corvato – master tailor in New York City who has been practicing the fine art of tailoring his whole life.
Or woodworker Sam Chinnery.