Five emerging design artisans get a digital spotlight
British womenswear brand Toast presents five contemporary craftspeople as part of the New Makers programme
Since 1997, British womenswear brand Toast has perpetuated a thoughtful and handcrafted aesthetic through the use of traditional textiles and techniques. Over the years, this approach has been steadily refined and now brings together a comforting simplicity with elevated materials – a fusion that also extends to design and homeware offerings to match. Toast’s ethos of bridging contemporary design and craft has culminated in its New Makers programme, which it launched last year.
Conceived as a platform to support and mentor five emerging makers, the initiative not only provides the participants with business, design and production advice, but also a digital and physical platform on which to present and sell their works. With all profits going back to each artisan, the programme offers a multi-layered level of support that’s rare to come by.
‘At Toast, we place huge value on skilled design and craftsmanship,’ says the brand’s head of House & Home, Judith Harris. ‘While varied in their approach, all our new makers showed commonalities in tune with our ethos — thoughtfulness and simplicity, and the celebration of traditional techniques.’
Following on from last year’s curation of all British makers, this year’s edition casts a wider net and features the talents of Glasgow-based ceramicist Viv Lee, woodworker Ambrose Vevers from Devon, York-based lighting designer John Hollington, the pottery duo Popilini & Jezando also from Devon, and the initiative’s first American, ceramicist Polly Yates, who hails from Chicago.
‘We appreciate that it is not always easy to succeed today as a maker,’ Harris adds. ‘Toast New Makers have to demonstrate skill in functional product design, along with an appreciation for materials and texture, and a commitment to sustainable techniques and production. This year, we wanted to reach out to our international community to include a more diverse range of makers from a variety of disciplines, backgrounds, ages and nationalities.’
Although the New Makers collection was intended to be shown in stores and to be experienced firsthand, Toast has instead decided to launch the collection online for now, accompanied by images, videos and interviews with the makers.
Harris says, ‘We believe that our customers are turning online for inspiration and enrichment at this uncertain time. Now more than ever, people are seeking meaningful objects that have been created with care. We hope our followers will enjoy discovering more about each of our makers this way [and] hope to still launch in our shops later in the year.’ §