CRAFT WORKS

Meet the creatives behind three Project Earth-labelled and British-made homeware brands that are designing with artisanal techniques, individuality and creativity at the heart of everything they do.

Words: Charlotte Core

CRAFT WORKS

Meet the creatives behind three Project Earth-labelled and British-made homeware brands that are designing with artisanal techniques, individuality and creativity at the heart of everything they do.

Words: Charlotte Core

When it comes to decorating our spaces with homeware that brings us pure joy, we’re looking to the makers handcrafting the most unique pieces that are absolutely brimming with personality. Here, we meet three British-based small design labels, all bearing our Project Earth ‘British Makers’ label, who are inspiring us with their creative artisanal approach to brilliant homeware design. From hand pouring body-shaped candles from the kitchen table, to hand-painting Roman ruins on cushion covers; here’s to the designers preserving and reimagining traditional crafting techniques to create objects that brighten our everyday...

GERGEI ERDEI

Interiors designer Gergei Erdei cut his teeth designing ready-to-wear at Gucci. His eponymous studio focuses on handcrafted and hand-painted homeware pieces with inspirations ranging from 70s style icon Jane Birkin to medieval occult drawings. The result? Art-inspired homeware that draws the eye and starts a conversation.

GERGEI ERDEI

Interiors designer Gergei Erdei cut his teeth designing ready-to-wear at Gucci. His eponymous studio focuses on handcrafted and hand-painted homeware pieces with inspirations ranging from 70s style icon Jane Birkin to medieval occult drawings. The result? Art-inspired homeware that draws the eye and starts a conversation.
Your background is in fashion design. How has this shaped your approach to creating homeware pieces?

I think I interpreted how luxury fashion houses think about design and presentation. It always amazes me how these products make you fall in love with them due to the craftsmanship and clever details. Throughout the design process I think about every surface – even if it’s just the backside of a cushion or a small side label – as an opportunity to add a detail that surprises people.

How would you describe the Gergei Erdei design ethos?

My brand is an eclectic puzzle and the designs work well in both maximalist homes and minimal ones. The aesthetic of the brand is inspired by ancient Italian art as well as Slim Aarons’ photographs of the jet set; poster designs of the 60s; medieval occult drawings; and the nonchalant style of 70s style icons Jane Birkin, Serge Gainsbourg, Anita Pallenberg or Keith Richards.

What do you start with when creating your designs, and what would we find on your inspiration boards?

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and I constantly save and screenshot everything that inspires me. My inspiration board for the Selfridges-exclusive designs contained research about Grand Tour collectibles, 1960s poolside parties in Palm Springs and the French Riviera, vintage parasols, architectural drawings of garden urns, marble intarsia floor details and much more.


I design and draw every print by hand, and the imperfections and visible brush strokes are what gives them an artisanal flair.

Tell us about your production process – how important is the handmade and hand-painted process to the final result?

I design and draw every print by hand and the imperfections and visible brush strokes are what gives them an artisanal flair. I love antique walls, crumbling frescoes, even just the imperfect way of how a cheaper 1950s scarf might be screen-printed. These are the kind of elements I am interpreting in my print designs. Some patterns can take a week to finish because every element is separated and drawn by layers and edited digitally. Every production step is carried out in England and I am mainly working with family-owned businesses to support local production and to save the environment.

When it comes to decorating your own home, what’s important to you?

What’s most important is to stay true to yourself and to invest in quality pieces that will keep their value. Be brave and don’t be afraid to experiment with colours, shapes, textures, and patterns. Feel free to mix different styles and periods. Just because you have vintage sunglasses from the 70s doesn’t mean you can’t wear them with your freshly bought bag – the same applies to interior design as in fashion. There are no rules.

MIYELLE

Miyelle Karmi has been playing with clay since 2017 and makes all of her pieces by hand in Hackney, London. Her background in graphic design influences the geometric, whimsical and sculptural aesthetic of her work.

MIYELLE

Miyelle Karmi has been playing with clay since 2017 and makes all of her pieces by hand in Hackney, London. Her background in graphic design influences the geometric, whimsical and sculptural aesthetic of her work.
Miyelle’s ceramics in the kiln after their final firing
What inspired you to start making ceramics?

I work in graphic design and art direction and for a long time I was searching for an alternative creative outlet that was more hands-on and away from a computer screen. My mum’s from South Korea and growing up I always loved the handmade Korean ceramics we had in our home and the pieces I’d discover on trips out there. Then several years ago I had the idea to have a go at making ceramics myself and as soon as my hands touched the clay I fell in love!

You come from a design background ­– how has this shaped your approach to creating your pieces?

I think my design background influences the geometric and structured aesthetic of my work. My design style, whether it be in graphic design or with clay, has always been playful and whimsical. I like to surprise and delight, and now with my ceramics, enhance the experience of everyday rituals.

Could you give us a step-by-step guide on how your work comes together?

I start by sketching ideas down. I find putting pen to paper can help create a multitude of different ideas. Once I have a design in mind, the making process begins. I use volcanic lava fleck in my clay which gives my pieces their speckled effect, which I then roll through a slab roller (this is like a giant pasta maker) to create a flat sheet of clay. I hand-build all of my work, so my pieces come together by cutting out shapes in the clay and carefully sticking them together. Once a form has been built, I trim and smooth it down and attach any handles or decorative elements. When the clay is bone dry it goes through its first firing which takes two days. I then glaze the piece and put it through its final firing which takes another two days. The whole process generally takes around three to four weeks to complete so a whole lot of love, time and energy goes into each piece!


The whole process generally takes around three to four weeks to complete so a whole lot of love, time and energy goes into each piece!

What’s the most satisfying part of the ceramic process for you?

There are two main elements of the ceramic process that I find most satisfying. Firstly, the actual making process which I find to be incredibly meditative. The hours fly by in my studio! And secondly, it's the feeling of creating a tangible piece that someone can use and enjoy every day. That really makes me happy.

CAÏA CANDLE

Following a frustrating lockdown in 2020 where she was put on furlough from her day job, Gaby Jones turned her hands to candle making at home – and, voila, Caïa Candle was born. Inspired by Greco-Roman statues, each candle is a meticulously crafted mini sculpture that’s almost too beautiful to burn.

CAÏA CANDLE

Following a frustrating lockdown in 2020 where she was put on furlough from her day job, Gaby Jones turned her hands to candle making at home – and, voilà, Caïa Candle was born. Inspired by Greco-Roman statues, each candle is a meticulously crafted mini sculpture that’s almost too beautiful to burn.
Tell us how your brand started – what inspired you to create candles at home?

Caïa started in my co-founder Giles’s aunt Bridget’s kitchen during the first lockdown. Like many others I was put on furlough and had nothing to do. It escalated quickly, and before we knew it we had taken over his aunt’s living room and kitchen with candles. Meal times were interesting, to say the least! I thought that if I could create a luxury candle what shape would I want, and how would it burn? And then immediately got to designing it. 

Your distinctive body shapes are instantly recognisable – what inspired them? 

We took inspiration from Greco-Roman sculptures and really wanted to try and capture that aesthetic. Our shapes had to be timeless and classical to stand the test of time and resist a fad trend, just like classic sculptures do.

Tell us about the process – from conception through to the final result.

We come up with the initial idea, and then progress to concept art and then once agreed (and after a few arguments!), 3-D design it and make a mould. All of our shapes are uniquely designed and we are really proud of that. Making it is really an ever-changing thing. Each shape is unique and has its own preferences of pour. From understanding the wax, to the dyes, to the mould, it really is quite a temperamental process to get the candles just right. Soy wax is quite tough to work with, so developing an understanding of it over time has been crucial.


From understanding the wax, to the dyes, to the mould, it really is quite a temperamental process to get the candles just right.

Your materials are vegan and biodegradable – is sustainability important to you?

We try to be as eco-friendly as possible. From packaging to wax and wicks, limiting our footprint is important to us. We are committed to being as sustainable as possible, and we’re doing a good job so far.

What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about candle making?

It’s a cliché to say, but honestly we learn something new every day. The amount of tests we do, variations of techniques and soy waxes we use is endless. We have learnt so much and are still learning. When one problem is solved, another rears its ugly head – but it really is rewarding making a product you are proud of!

COMPASSION PROJECT

By shopping from our selection of Project Earth home products below – from upcycled designs to refillable household essentials – you’re supporting materials and production methods that have a lower impact on the environment.

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