It’s always a treat to discover new interiors brands and I’m often left feeling slightly ashamed that they haven’t appeared on my radar before. Manufactum most certainly falls into that category. I recently attended their serenely stylish debut UK press preview at the Hoxton Holborn and instantly fell in love with their collections of elegantly curated homewares.
In Germany, the brand is well known. They have 9 shops including a stunning department store in central Munich. Although selling online in the UK since 2002, they have yet to find the perfect bricks and mortar space but oh, they will be so well received when they do. The emphasis with Manufactum is very much on the carefully crafted. They offer household and gardening goods all with an emphasis on traditional manufacturing methods and have a collection of over 10,000 useful everyday items for a slightly more upscale, discerning customer.
As Managing Director Max Heimann led me around the items on display, the passion and ethos behind creating a sustainable brand became ever more clear. The softest linen pillowcases from Lithuania finished with mother-of-pearl buttons; blankets and rugs from artisan craftspeople in South America. It’s fair to say that not everything available at Manufactum will be the cheapest price point, but as their UK website explains, we should cherish the pieces brought into our homes rather than seek to find the cheapest imitation:
“There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper”. Over a century later and John Ruskin’s observation is still valid; what’s more, we believe it says a lot about the products on offer today. There was a time when the only problem facing quality goods was competition from goods of an even higher quality, now it seems that inferior goods are the main problem.
Certainly, as far as household goods are concerned, there are very few high quality products which are not diminished by the proliferation of paler imitations, produced by unimaginative competitors at the lowest possible price.
Products have increasingly shorter life cycles, they come and go, are launched and disappear again. Everyday items have been turned from commodities into consumer goods, not built to last, but to be thrown away as soon as possible in order to make way for the latest fad or ‘special offer’.
Not only is this harmful to the environment, it also means that we no longer have a ‘special relationship’ with the things we use every day and which help us to do something well.
How many of the products on offer today will ever become prized possessions?
From hammered iron pans and crisp linen towels to a nappa leather flatware roll for pens, a wren’s nesting sphere, to a beech wood hand coffee grinder that allows individual grinds for the optimal brew, each item is chosen specifically for their high quality, the craft skills and prime materials employed, their beauty and their ease of use. It means that even the most mundane item you could think of for your home could still be a beautiful standalone piece. For me, that’s something we should definitely be striving for.
Thank you so much to Manufactum for inviting me to their debut UK press preview. All images courtesy of Manufactum.