Understanding & Identifying Artisan Designs in Home Decor
There’s something unique and compelling about artisan designs.
Consider a piece of furniture or a home decor product. When you add the element of handcrafted, authentic design to a seemingly simple piece, that single item immediately transforms into a work of art.
Understanding Artisan Versus Mass Produced
Artisanal products can be anything from a comfortable living room sofa to decorative wall art for your master bedroom. The styles of these items inevitably vary from modern and contemporary to rustic and bohemian, depending on your personal preference.
However, there’s one common factor: they're designed and handmade by all types of artisans.
Not surprisingly, we’re seeing an increase in artisan designs from designers and brand manufacturers throughout the industry; from the east coast to the west coast and across the pond.
Trade shows and other design events that showcase upcoming trends in home furniture and decor feature an ever-increasing array of handmade items crafted, not for mass production, but by an individual, for an individual.
Who’s Making These Creations?
Artisan design products are crafted with attention to detail and a creative mindset by builders, carpenters, and other craftspeople.
What’s the best way to describe these artisans?
“We’re driven by crazy ideas. We hate unconventional living. We want to be something extraordinary for people who don’t want to be the same,” said Peter Schonhofen, Chief of Energy and Optimism at KARE Designs, a Munich, Germany-based design outfit.
Peter’s unconventional attitude hits at the core of artisan design. It’s the idea that design doesn’t always have to be one-size-fits-all. Design should be distinct, unique, and highly personal.
If it’s handmade, that’s even better!
Factors for Identifying Artisan Designs
Homeowners appreciate the look of handmade products. But sometimes, it’s hard to tell what’s handcrafted, and what is made to look like it is.
Here are some ways you can distinguish artisan design products from the rest of the pack.
These touches aren’t mistakes; they’re the elements that make the product a distinct piece of art.
Each artisan design has a story. Sometimes, this story relates to the region of the world the item was produced or the history of the design process. Consider handmade textiles from India. The artisans who create these breathtaking products do so using methods passed down for hundreds of generations. That’s a fantastic story, right?
Stories also come from the materials used in the process. The source of the wood for an entryway bench, the lifecycle of the recycled plastic on an area rug, and the dyes used to create a stunning tapestry help validate an artisan design’s value.
Artisans often share these inspirational, emotionally-compelling stories on tags and product paperwork. Don’t overlook these; they’re worth the read!
More often than not, artisan items cannot be duplicated. They’re one-of-a-kind. The artisan may try to replicate the design, but it’s almost impossible to create an exact copy.
A substantial portion of these designs are made overseas by talented craftspeople and then shipped to North America and Europe for a retail audience. Therefore, shipping costs are often factored into the overall cost.
Also, because artisan designs are crafted by hand, often over a long period of time, they sometimes cost more than traditional wares.
If an item looks handcrafted, but the price is surprisingly low, this is a red flag. This may indicate the item was either mass-produced or sold using unfair trade practices.
The Best Places to Buy (& Sell)
Just a decade ago, the chances of finding an artisan design at a mass retailer was slim to none. But the consumer marketplace is rapidly changing.
Today, you can find handmade products at many locations, including:
- Boutique Furniture, Design, and Decor shops
- Art and Design Studios
- Mass Retailers
- Craft Fairs
- Design Trade Show
- Online Retailers
If you’re an artisan yourself, rest assured that retailers are extremely interested in your wares. Besides selling your items on an online artisan marketplace, you can also reach out to local shops in your area and present them with your creations. Many store owners appreciate the chance to support local artists.
Consumer Responsibility: Your Role
If you’re eager to find artisan designs to serve as statement pieces for your home, you’re in good company. However, before you take the leap and invest in a handmade product, consider educating yourself about it.
Unfortunately, many artisans live in poverty-stricken areas with low safety standards, and sometimes, they’re not paid fairly for their intricate work. Therefore, it’s up to you as a consumer to learn as much as you can about the artist’s compensation and work environment.
You’ll often see an item labeled as “Fair Trade Certified” or “Fair Trade Proof.” These identifications are helpful, but you can’t always take them at face value. Ask the retailer about the criteria behind the label to ensure you’re buying responsibly.
What else can you do? Look for retailers who promise a fair wage and, if possible, an upfront portion of the sale price to the artists. It’s also okay to ask about labor and safety practices and laws in the region of manufacture.
Artisan Designs: Trending Forward
We live in a world filled with volume-produced furniture and home decor, but the emergence of artisan designs has helped add a touch of individuality and art to our homes.
When you decide to invest in an artisan design, you’re supporting individual artists, builders, and craftsmen who have a passion for their craft and an eye for design. At the same time, you’re procuring pieces that will serve as focal points for the months and years to come; ones that can be passed down to your children and grandchildren.
Your home should be as individual as you are, and these special product designs help ensure that.
Get ready. The handcrafted, original artisan design trend is coming to home furniture and decor retailer floors and shelves near you.