The Craftspeople Edit by Hole & Corner's Mark Hooper
Recently we asked Mark Hooper, founding editor of Hole & Corner – dedicated to ‘celebrating craft, beauty, passion and skill’, list his three favourite craftspeople working in the food world right now. He got back to us with an inspiring group of craftspeople that we can't wait to share with you.
Pole & Hunt
The Somerset-based duo of Alex Pole and Ed Hunt make exquisite chef’s knives.
Pole forges the blades himself using British high-carbon steel, which Hunt then treats and grinds to produce the final knife, as well as hand making each handle – typically out of apple wood or walnut. Pole has long been a champion of British blacksmithing, aiming to make the craft accessible and affordable to the general public, which he does by running workshops across the country at events including Port Eliot Festival, The Good Life Experience, River Cottage Festival, London Craft Week and London Design Fair and have have recently been working alongside chef and food writer Valentine Warner on joint demonstrations. Together they show off the basic techniques of their craft – from showing how to work steel at different temperatures to cookery masterclasses using the tools they forge themselves.
For Pole, there is an almost mystical, ethereal side to the job that is borne of the transformative nature of the making process. ‘For me, blacksmithing isn’t a job, it’s an integrated part of my whole existence,’ he says. ‘You’re applying heat to your life and changing it – hopefully for the better. And in a sense that’s what alchemy is.’
Photography by Jim Marsden
Founded by Slovenian-born Londoner Ana Kerin in 2012, Kana London developed naturally from her art and sculpture background, resulting in functional stoneware crockery and ceramics for the home. Her signature style is organic and tactile – seemingly rough-hewn pieces that feel comforting in the hand.
‘It is always about creating objects that you would want to hold on to,’ she says of her career arc; ‘objects that have value added to them. There was also always a very strong interest in working with food.’
To that end, she has worked on several unique and inspiring collaborations related to the food world. For instance, she recently teamed up with restaurateurs Plates on a set of dining pieces that lend themselves perfectly to their focus on using only plant-based natural ingredients – with an innovative mixture of clays in individual pieces matching the nature of the food served on them.
Photography by Ola O Smit
The founding chairman of the Heritage Crafts Association, Robin Wood is a hugely respected and influential figure in the craft community, seeking to keep ancient skills and traditions alive for future generations. He is responsible for single-handedly reviving the art of wooden bowl turning using a foot-powered lathe. Indeed, the craft as believed to have died out with the famed woodturner George Lailey, who passed away in 1958 with no children and no apprentices to pass his skills on to. However, Wood discovered his tools in the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading and read up on the techniques involved.
Entirely self-taught, Wood works from his rural studio in Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District, and is almost evangelical when it comes to the subject of eating off wooden plates and bowls. ‘Too few people know the pleasure of eating from wood,’ he says. ‘It’s quiet, soft, warm and somehow compatible with good natural food, in a way that hard ceramic never can be.’
Photography by James McNaught & Styling by Tamara Fulton