3 Min read.
Beautifully considered design in the making.
Here in the studio a beautiful product doesn’t just need to look good or perform well, but it has to be made considerately too. One of the ways we do that is by supporting the UK’s growing textile and creative industry through our local production. In doing so we are lowering our carbon footprint by tapping into an expanding economy of UK manufacturing and eliminating the pollution from frequent travel to far reaching destinations.
Working with smaller scale heritage manufacturers mean they often have expert teams that have developed their skills in certain products for many years. Their knowledge of production methods, how to handle delicate fabrics and where to source locally is second to none. They understand working with designers and, like-minded they are committed to achieving the best results.
A great deal of work is done behind the scenes to deliver the best product that is both expertly printed and thoughtfully crafted here in the UK. I’ve done the travel to far corners to develop product, and let’s just say that this is a much more amenable way to work in many aspects.
Of course, there are many other practical benefits of onshore production (like working to the same time zones, export/import, currency - to give just a few examples) But I wanted to highlight my top three with you here.
What could be more resourceful as a small business than being able to visit your factories in a day and back? Many printers, mills and factories are located within easy reach, and thankfully we have a great a public transport network, which is much less harmful to the environment than flying.
More reachable order quantities benefit you, me and the planet. Teaming creativity with priority we produce only what we need. Ultimately this means we can create more exclusive collections whilst saving resources and eliminating waste from excess stock production.
Crafting strong relationships. Visiting the place where it all happens provides us with a unique opportunity to learn from our makers. Understanding the process (and often its limitations) is vital and enables us to design a product to the best possible standard.
Many manufacturing opportunities had been lost over the years as UK factories closed and small textile industries were overridden by offshore giants. With the rise of new technology and machinery, manufacturing in the UK is starting to return, and with it often grants smaller production quantities and quicker turnaround times. These attractive terms open up a range of possibilities for the new generation of designers that would otherwise only be viable to a larger organisation.
Producing in the UK is exciting and I’m delighted to know so many diverse makers. Whether it’s our expert print partners who use state-of-the-art digital print technology to create our fabrics, or our umbrella makers with over 215 years family heritage - just a 10-minute bike ride away. I’m lucky to have these opportunities on my doorstep.
Richard Ince of Ince Umbrellas making our printed Barbican Umbrellas
Red List of Endangered Crafts
Despite the surge towards 'Made in UK' after Brexit and Covid-19, there is still a large number of craft disciplines at threat of extinction in the UK.
Heritage Craft's Red List of Endangered Crafts features a fascinating list of skills - including Umbrella Making which is ‘Endangered‘, Fabric Pleating and Diamond Cutting both ‘Critically endangered’ and Cricket Ball making which is now ‘Extinct’ in the UK.
I wanted to share the link above with you as it provides some really interesting information behind the workers, their skill and the factors as to why these crafts are now dying out. Many of these crafts listed you may never have heard of, or even thought they were made here in the UK.
Make It British
Designer & Founder
Read our previous post here: Design Shorts #1 | Manufactured Geometry