a shop displaying crockery and cutlery
Art and culture

London’s got talent: artisans in the capital

September 16, 2022

From hand-crafted shoes to your own one-of-a-kind perfume, London’s artisans know how to create memorable keepsakes of your time in the city. Here are five of our favourites.

George Cleverley shoes

Love the scent of leather? Head to this 19th century boutique, where glass cabinets are lined with gleaming leather shoes. These are all designed in an upstairs workshop, next to a room of ‘lasts’ – wooden replicas of customers’ feet. Seven artisans work here, crafting bespoke shoes by measuring customers’ feet and making a unique last from which a paper pattern is designed. The leather is stitched loosely together by hand before an initial fitting, then the toe, heel and insole are added. Finally, the pair are polished and sent off into the world. On your feet, perhaps?

George Cleverley, 13 The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street, London W1S 4SL

George Cleverley and Co leather shoes displayed on stairs.
Hancocks window display showing jewellery

Hancocks London

Sunlight beams through the roof of Burlington Arcade, bouncing off the jewellery in the window of Hancocks London. Established in 1849 by Charles Frederick Hancock, it was granted a Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria the following year. She then asked the firm to create the first Victoria Cross – the armed forces’ highest military award for bravery – which it still has the honour of making today. One of the capital’s oldest jewellers, it’s a joy to browse its antique diamond necklaces, tiaras and signet rings.

Hancocks, 52-53 Burlington Arcade, London W1J 0HH

David Mellor

Even if you don’t recognise the name, you will recognise David Mellor’s output: the late designer was the brains behind Britain’s traffic lights. Also renowned for producing cutlery, today Mellor’s son Corin designs contemporary silverware created in Sheffield in the north of England, while other pieces are sourced from artisans in London – including Brigitte Colleaux’s lustrous stoneware and Will Elworthy’s tactile chestnut chopping boards. It’s housed in an Arts & Crafts period building in Marylebone, with large, arched windows that bathe its displays of baskets, wooden bowls and ceramic mugs in natural light.

David Mellor, 14 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 8UW

Table displaying crockery
displays square modern art piece.

Contemporary Ceramics Centre

Bare brick walls and white cabinets provide a blank canvas for the ceramics in this gallery and shop opposite the British Museum. The venue displays the work of 80 artists – all members of the Craft Potters Association, its parent organisation. Browse monochrome porcelain by London-born Justine Allison, Harriet Coleridge’s glazed vessels and jars, and wafer thin ceramics by Sara Dodd, whose work has been shown at Saatchi Gallery and the Royal Academy of Art’s Summer Exhibition.

Contemporary Ceramics Centre, 63 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3BF

Floris

With its herringbone floor and mahogany cabinets, little has changed since Juan Floris founded this St James’s boutique in 1730. Fragrances are still created by hand in this Grade II-listed building, where you can also design your own scent and browse a museum – look out for a letter dated 1863 from Florence Nightingale thanking Mr Floris for a perfume, and a receipt showing Marilyn Monroe ordered a bottle to be delivered to The Beverly Hills Hotel. As a Royal Warrant holder, Floris produces scents for royalty and counts the former Prime Minister Winston Churchill and James Bond creator Ian Fleming as customers.

Floris, 89 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6JH

displays man holding and observing a bottle of perfume.

Want more local artistry? Discover amazing artworks hiding in plain sight with our guide to the Mayfair’s finest statues.

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