Designed and crafted in Britain, these products all share our sponsor’s sense of heritage
THE WINNER: ROTHSCHILD & BICKERS – Based in Hertford, this is one of the few factories in the UK that still makes hand-blown glass. Founded by Victoria Rothschild and Mark Bickers, it uses ancient techniques to create modern designs, such as the ‘Pick-n-Mix’ lights (pictured). The brand’s pendant lights now grace Bombay-style cafe Dishoom, London’s Great Northern Hotel and many more top venues worldwide (rothschildbickers.com). Scroll through the gallery to see the rest of this year’s nominees.
SITTING FIRM – Set up in 1989 by master craftsman Dave Green, Sitting Firm has worked with contemporary designers Gareth Neal, Steuart Padwick and Gitta Gschwendtner (whose bespoke bench was made for the V&A’s furniture gallery) using sustainable timber – most of which is from Britain – in its Coventry factory. Its most recent project is the making of Russell Pinch’s ‘Avery’ chair (pictured), constructed from pippy oak with a beautiful knotted grain (sittingfirm.co.uk).
CUSTHOM – Nathan Philpott and Jemma Ooi – aka Custhom – met as students at the Royal College of Art. They take an innovative approach to familiar items: wallpapers are embroidered with thread; fabrics are cut and reassembled to form unusual cushions; ceramics are inspired by architectural motifs. Manufacture takes place in Stoke-on-Trent and Leicester, with everything hand-finished in the pair’s South London studio (custhom.co.uk).
FLUX – Stoke-on-Trent, the heart of Britain’s ceramics industry since the 18th century, has been given a new life thanks to Flux, established by Staffordshire University in 2010. The brand’s contemporary fine bone china tableware – often by graduates from the university’s MA ceramics course – features intricate cobalt blue patterns on a white background, with trims in platinum and gold; all pieces can be mixed and matched (fluxstokeontrent.com).
The John Lewis ‘Made in the UK’ Award winner 2014: Rothschild & Bickers
This award champions British manufacturers, reflecting John Lewis’s heritage. The runaway winner was Hertford-based duo Rothschild & Bickers – aka Victoria Rothschild and Mark Bickers – whose factory makes colourful hand-blown glass lighting. Rothschild reveals more.
What are your latest designs? This year we’ve launched the ‘Empire’ pendant, which has a clear glass shade and copper or black zinc fittings. The elegant form encases
a complex squirrel-cage tube bulb – the whole thing has a steampunk look to it. We’ve also released a larger model of the lights in our ‘Pick-n-Mix’ range, and have added some new colours that include ochre, copper blue and aubergine.
What’s the most important thing about what you do? We want to keep the tradition of glass-blowing alive in the UK. It’s already becoming difficult for us to find people with the right skills and it would be disheartening to see this craft disappear. We don’t use moulds to make our forms: each piece is hand-shaped using heat. Our production is small, but will expand as we train new apprentices.
What does it feel like to win the John Lewis Award? It’s a real achievement to be recognised as a brand after seven years of trading. It’s also special to us because we have striven to keep our production in the UK and we continue to push for British manufacturing.
‘Pick-n-Mix’ light, £295 (rothschildbickers.com)