We caught up with Nick Watts, CEO of Hole & Corner magazine to talk about their new social enterprise initiative and pioneering craft award Cræftiga.


What is Cræftiga?

Established in November 2017, Cræftiga is a social enterprise public initiative set up by Carley Ayres (Publisher) and Sam Walton (Creator, Hole & Corner), with a mission to champion the next generation of undiscovered craftspeople.

Our quarterly magazine, Hole & Corner has editorially been championing craft people for a long time and has already contributed to developing the careers of a number of established makers.

There are more and more young people coming up in the crafts world that are really pushing the boundaries in terms of sustainability and new materials.

Cræftiga celebrates and encourages this movement through a major new talent search leading to a yearlong programme of valuable activity including mentorship, guidance and resource for the winners and future makers and innovators of craft.

How do you define craft?

Fundamentally, craft is something that has been made by hand and by a maker, but this doesn’t stop it from being progressive.

Craft is all about connectivity and community and is revisiting the concept of making something with your hands and feeling connected to something. This connectivity is both in relation to the object you are nurturing and also to yourself. Although craft is usually a skill it can also be art or design; it is an artistic translation made by an individual.

Craft is now experiencing a renaissance. In part, thanks to the work of Hole & Corner. Craft has previously held negative connotations because people would get stuck on craft itself and not what craft is or can be.

Where does the name come from?

Cræftiga is a Middle English word literally meaning a man of skill, a workman or an artist.

What is Cræftiga trying to achieve?

Ultimately Cræftiga wants to create tangible opportunity in an area of creativity that has oft been neglected by traditional creative industries.

There are so many difficulties for young creatives trying to set-up a business today. Often young makers are deeply creative and are passionate about the materials and processes they are using but lack the knowledge of how to set up a business.

This scheme will discover new talent and nurture them into being leaders in their field and will play a crucial part in modernising the craft industry.

By working with the next generation of makers, Cræftiga will not only be discovering the craftspeople of the future, but also the sustainable materials and processes of tomorrow.

What makes Cræftiga different from other craft and art prizes?

There are already a number of fantastic schemes and prizes that are run to celebrate excellence within the craft industry, including The LOEWE Craft Prize, the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize and the Cockpit Arts prizes.

However, Cræftiga will identify the next generation of raw talent, supporting makers who are most likely to benefit from the mentoring programme at this early stage in their careers.

How does it work?

Cræftiga welcomes all applicants whose work covers the spectrum of art, craft or design. As we are looking to support the next generation of UK makers applicants should be born after 1st September 1982 and based in Britain.

The winners’ work will be exhibited at the British Craft Pavilion at London Design Fair in September 2018, and will receive mentoring including PR, promotional, design, communication and editorial support from Hole & Corner over the course of a year, as well as insight from our extensive network of makers, influencers and industry leaders.

The judges will also be looking at how Cræftiga can support and nurture a number of different individuals and will be awarding prizes and rewards dependent on the applications and what the judges feel will best service the individuals.

Who are the judges?

The judging panel is a diverse group of experts and key opinion formers drawn from the whole spectrum of art, craft and design. They will form the core network of mentors to the Cræftiga winners.

The judging panel currently consists of:

  • Sarah Myerscough, Founder, Sarah Myerschough Gallery
  • Sebastian Cox, Furniture Maker and Founder, Sebastian Cox Design and Studio
  • Faye Toogood, Designer

Why the age range?

Cræftiga is open to anyone born after 1st September 1982. This is because the programme aims to identify and support the makers of the future.

It was important to specify this in the criteria as we believe that it is young people who will best be able to benefit from the scheme. The mentoring programme is aimed at craftspeople at the beginning of their careers looking for much needed business advice and support. There are a number of prizes that reward excellence in craft and design and celebrate some incredible makers; however, Cræftiga is looking to support raw, unbridled talent coming through the ranks with new and innovative ideas and concepts.

The judging panel is also excited by the mindset of the younger generation who have grown up in a different time and through a different lens: as digital natives but also with a sensibility of our footprint on the world. They are looking to see how young people are tackling these concerns through art, craft and design.

How is this initiative being financed currently?

Hole & Corner provided the initial funding with the aim that this social enterprise will be able to feed itself through sponsorship, partnerships and investment.

One early funding plan has relied on the strong network of makers already in the Hole & Corner stable: Cræftiga initiated a call-out to established craftspeople to create works that will be sold to raise funds for the Cræftiga initiative. All thirty makers that were approached sent back items for the fund, ranging in price from £50 to £5,000. The items will be on display at Hole & Corner’s takeover of Dunhill’s Bourdon House during London Craft Week and 100% of the money raised will go to funding Cræftiga.

Although Cræftiga is very open to exploring investment and sponsorship at this stage, the first year will run as a pilot and will provide opportunities to begin conversations with potential investors, sponsors and partners. However, the team believes in creating mutually beneficial partnerships that are all about putting the maker first.

Are there any commercial benefits to Cræftiga or to Hole & Corner?

There are no commercial benefits for Cræftiga. It is entirely set-up as a social enterprise scheme with a fund for the winners. The team has such a wide network of connections who are passionate about supporting young businesses so with the right backing Cræftiga will be able to really nurture talented individuals.

How do you apply?

Applications for the 2018/2019 programme are now open online and close on 31st July, whereupon the judges will select a winner and a number of runners-up, all of whom will be part of the Cræftiga class of 2019. Apply online here