In the late nineteenth century the rise of the industrial revolution inspired a counter-movement to reignite the production of handmade goods across the world. Led by classically trained artisans from rural England, the Arts and Crafts movement briefly swept Europe and North America on principles of celebrating high calibre and unique goods resulting in an array of furniture, textiles, wallpaper and architecture, among others.
More than a century later, the Arts and Crafts movement is in the midst of a renaissance led by 2015 RIBA Turner Prize nominees Assemble Studio. Founded under the moniker Granby Workshop, the newly formed Liverpool-based artisan collective aims to eliminate widespread dereliction in one of the city's most blighted boroughs through the replacement of objects that have, over time, been stripped away. Sustained through a crowd funding model, Granby Workshop has launched a broad collection of locally sourced, designed and assembled homewares available for purchase online.
Known for its socially oriented architecture it comes as no surprise that Assemble are at the helm of an ambitious community oriented project. As Assemble notes, Granby Workshop is much more than a series of objects and movables: the products are a physical manifestation of a desire to rejuvenate a downtrodden area through innovation in design. Created in partnership with Liverpool City Council, Crafts Council (UK), the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (UK) and the Arts Council of England, Granby Workshop is the product of significant collaboration. Located in Toxteth, the workshop is situated in one of ten houses that were acquired and renovated through the establishment of a unique ownership scheme known as the Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust.
Now in its first run of handmade goods, Granby Workshop has launched a broad set of carefully crafted and selected products, each with an accompanying narrative providing details on product origin, function and maker. Ranging from screenprinted textiles, fired and reclaimed wooden stools, and hand-pressed terracotta lampshades, the contemporary line infuses energy into once-discarded materials found around Granby. "These homely and carefully crafted objects; ranging from mantelpieces and fabric prints, to tiles and door knobs are now being made available to a global audience," say Assemble, "promoting the creativity and enterprising spirit of the community that made them."
As one of the workshop's featured artisans, Will Shannon has created a diverse line of products composed of waste of construction waste from nearby sites. Granby Rock is an edgy line of modernist homewares produced using construction waste from local houses. The range includes fireplaces, lamps and planters, all made from Shannon's recipe for the unorthodox composite material. "Discarded red and yellow brick, slate and stone are cast with sand and pigmented cement, and then ground and polished, creating a highly decorative surface speckled with rubble," reads the product narrative. The results are a striking mix between modernism and futurism and are made on a per-sale basis, guaranteeing that all products will be sold with proceeds split between the artisans and the workshop.
As Granby Workshop expands, additional types of products will be added to the existing selection. The team has grand ambitions to grow the line beyond its current range with an eye towards raising funds for the realization of larger scale rejuvenation projects in and around Liverpool. The unique nature of their pieces is a pillar of the workshop's mission, as Assemble explains: "All products are made using processes which embrace chance and improvisation so that each is unique, developing in the hands of the maker." Now, you can own a piece of Assemble and Granby Workshop's early history: products are available online, each different from the next.
Granby Workshop was launched in conjunction with Assemble Studio's nomination for the 2015 RIBA Turner Prize, the winner of which will be announced December 7th, 2015. Find out more about Granby Workshop and browse their first round of products, here.