Whether you’re looking for a $200 wool lumbar pillow handwoven by master Zapotec weavers in Oaxaca, Mexico or a handmade $5,000 inlaid turquoise and copper decanter, you can find it on Etsy. The explosive growth of this online marketplace—the company reported revenue of $200 million in the most recent quarter, which represents almost 50% year-over-year growth, according to The Motley Fool—provides insight into a potent consumer trend: the desire for unique, original, handcrafted pieces.
Elle Décor called this movement—especially pieces crafted from more sustainable materials—one of its design trends for 2019, and everyone from homeowners to designers to purveyors to artists is feeling it. Outside of the hunter-gatherer component stoked by sites like Etsy, companies like Pratt & Larson are offering those seeking high-end, handmade items for their home a more curated experience. This luxury tile maker is seeing their wares surge in popularity as homeowners look to differentiate their kitchens and bathrooms with bespoke details.
“Working with Pratt & Larson allows you to choose each element of the tile. This allows it to become part of the design process instead of forcing the design to fit an ‘off the shelf’ tile,” said company President Belle Iskowitz. “You select the size and shape of the tile, the surface texture, and the glaze. Combine these custom capabilities with the beautiful variation the handmade process brings to the tile and you have a remarkable design material that enriches any space. We’ve seen an increase in people making more informed decisions and choosing beautiful handmade tile, and we’re seeing lots of textured surfaces and bolder color choices, which is really fun for us!”
We went in-depth with another leading force in the luxury home design and decor industry, Jessica Macias, co-founder and CEO of global marketplace Maison Numen, for further insight into what’s driving this trend.
Are you seeing a heightened interest in handmade items this year? What would you say is driving design in new direction?
Jessica Macias: I think there is a return to handcrafted authenticity especially when it comes to decorative and utilitarian objects versus buying mass-produced pieces. Being strategic and purposeful about purchasing behavior is a key ingredient to a handmade ethos. The initial questions are, ‘Who you are purchasing from and what values do they stand for?’ And, ‘What type of materials are used to build each item?’ To complement and highlight special pieces, we believe in designing an impeccable foundation through the use of timeless materials, ultimately resulting in bones that evoke emotion whenever you’re in your space.
What is Maison Numen’s objective in curating these types of items for consumers?
Our focus is to find the most beautiful and high-end pieces in the handmade market now from more that 20 countries and 100 artisans and makers—pieces that reflect their provenance and that can be adapted to any contemporary home.
Has the meaning of “handmade” changed now that it’s been adopted by the luxury market?
We used to equate ‘handmade’ with cheap, DIY or souvenirs, or poor quality. With Maison Numen, it’s the other way around. When you think of the time that the artisans spend producing the piece, the savoir-faire, the knowledge passing from one generation to another, and the cultural background that these pieces represent, it creates a new type of luxury.
Are certain places around the world hotter than others in terms of finding items or fulfilling requests?
Our customers love buying pieces from Mexico, Italy, and Portugal because these regions are very rich in culture and craftsmanship. The Maison Numen customer goes to our website because they want to add one-of-a-kind pieces to their home. They want to feel connected to the culture and the history, and that’s what we keep in mind when selecting the products or choosing the makers that represent our brand DNA.
Are there specific items (or materials) that are selling particularly well or that are being requested?
Our customers are truly passionate about the different textiles from Latin America, from countries such as Guatemala, Peru, and Mexico that excel in their design, weaving techniques, and color combinations. The glassware collection from Italy that shows their majestic skills and exquisite details are really desired items. Another requested style is the pottery from Morocco; our customers are really interested in the rich history behind these pieces.