I was recently invited to preview the spring collection at West Elm. And I was to learn about some of their collaborations with independent artists, both here in North America and in developing countries.
Admittedly, I am easily lured by beautiful things from all sorts of sources, but nothing makes me happier than when I find a beautiful product from an artist I admire or a source that supports a worthy cause. I was excited to hear how West Elm is taking a step away from the big box mentality and bringing one-of-a-kind art and artisans into the spotlight and making some of these unique pieces accessible to a larger audience.
Here are just a few of the exciting collaborations currently featured at West Elm:
20 x 200 – started by gallerist Jen Bekman with the philosophy that one-of-a-kind art should be for everyone, it features exclusive prints and ready-to-hang pieces, often starting for as low as $20. All are available with corresponding West Elm frames to make setting up a unique gallery wall in your home as simple as possible.
Aid to Artisans – since its start in 1976, Aid to Artisans has promoted international development by creating partnerships between artisans in developing countries and overseas buyers and markets. This gives talented local artists an opportunity to sell their pieces and make a living, and of course, gives us access to their beautiful work – like the new papier mache animal sculptures created by artists in Haiti – way cooler than real deer heads!
Craftmark - through Aid to Artisans, West Elm was introduced to Craftmark, which is part of the All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association. This organization focuses on traditional methods of making textiles as well as fresh new designs and allows Indian artisans to certify their products as authentically handmade. The results are fresh, modern and bursting with bright colour.
Etsy – also honoring the handmade movement here at home, West Elm has partnered with Etsy to feature emerging talented local artists to feature both in their catalogues and online. They’ve also started to host We Heart Handmade events, featuring these artists and their one of a kind works in special store events.
All photos by MF Miller .