Glassware ... ceramics ... textiles. There’s so much to see at a big event like the American Craft Council’s annual juried show that a person can get sensory overload. Even a professional.
“I’ve been to the ACC show in the past, and it can be overwhelming,” admitted interior designer Greg Walsh of Walsh Design Group, Minneapolis.
So he was intrigued by the theme of this year’s show: “Make Room: Modern Design Meets Craft,” which includes room vignettes, created by 10 local interior designers, each inspired by a particular craft artist’s work. Walsh, one of the 10, was an overachiever, incorporating pieces by several artisans, including custom furniture, a handmade rug, a sculpture, a piece of art and even custom wallcoverings.
“It was a good exercise for us, to get to some core pieces, adding them to interiors and even building off them,” he said.
The room vignettes were the brainstorm of Pamela Diamond, ACC’s director of marketing and communications. “It was an experiment,” she said. “I came out of the design industry, and this was such a logical connection. Craft is generally used as an accessory in the home, and we wanted to put it in context, by focusing on craft as a spark of inspiration for the space, rather than an afterthought.”
Creating a whole room inspired by a piece of artwork is a luxury that rarely happens in the real world of interior design, said Sally Wheaton Hushcha, Wheaton Hushcha Design Inc., Minneapolis, also one of the designers featured at this year’s show.
But the process designers used to create their vignettes — browsing work by various artists and choosing something that spoke to them — mirrors the spark she tries to ignite in her clients.
“I tell them, ‘You’ve got to fall in love with something,’ ” she said. “I can’t tell them what to love. I encourage them to be frank about what they really do love — a color, a favorite heirloom — so we can zero in on that and build.”
You don’t have to have deep pockets to fall in love with something and bring it home, Diamond noted. The show will be organized in categories, including an “under $100” collection. Artists also are creating different product lines, with varying price ranges.
Fine craft pieces support the trend toward personalized spaces, according to Diamond. “Clients want something unique. This is what’s going on in interior design.”
The show gives visitors not only a place to browse for home-decor pieces, but also an opportunity to meet the artists and shake the hands that crafted those pieces.
Handcraft is “an antidote to mass production,” she said. “Craft is clearly in a renaissance, and a lot of it springs from the recession. People are asking themselves, ‘What do I really value?’ What they value is relationships with people, and between people and objects.”