The best of British design: why handcrafted homeware is more popular than ever

Delcor Soho corner sofa

Derwent House in Witney brings together an exclusive collection of handcrafted furniture and homeware. Delcor Soho corner sofa pictured. - Credit: Derwent House

Derwent House is an exciting new interiors store in Witney for handcrafted furniture, fabric and homeware. Inspired by the tradition of craftmanship and design talent we have here in Britain, owners Juliette Barrell, Ali Griffiths and Richelle Spooner-Davidson use their wealth of experience in luxury interiors to source and curate an exclusive collection of decorative and functional pieces for the home. 

We speak to Juliette about the growing interest in British design and the benefits of buying handcrafted homewares. 

What was the inspiration behind opening Derwent House? 

The idea behind Derwent House is to tell the stories of talented British makers and their products – to recognise their skill in the creative process and to understand how they use their materials to create beautiful and unique interior pieces. 

We were also conscious of the fact that the craft market has grown considerably over the last few years. Consumers seem to be gradually shifting their interest towards high quality and sustainable products from small businesses and individual makers, which has no doubt been accelerated by the pandemic. We’ve all had time to reflect on life and what we’re doing to the planet, which has made us think more carefully about what we buy and the provenance of those products. 

stack of cushions

Abigail Bury handmade cushions, available at Derwent House. - Credit: Derwent House

What are the benefits of buying handcrafted products?  

Buying handcrafted furniture and homeware is very much an investment – it’s about buying well and buying once. In the old days, we would go to an individual maker with a specification of what we wanted, whether it was a sofa or curtains, and they would produce a drawing or sample and make the product according to our needs. This dialogue connects us as human beings and allows us to have an emotional investment in what we buy, which I think is really important. 

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Another great benefit of buying handmade products is that a lot of time, skill and creativity has gone into the making process and each piece is usually unique. It’s also more environmentally-friendly as there's much less waste compared to mass produced goods.   

wooden desk

Barnby Design Dalton Desk, available at Derwent House. - Credit: Derwent House

Tell us about the British designers and craft makers you represent? 

We collaborate with specially selected small businesses and individual makers who share our passion for beautifully made homeware.

Witney has long been associated with high quality, handcrafted furniture, which underpins the core offering of what we do. One of our main partnerships is with Delcor, a family-run business specialising in made-to-order upholstered sofas and armchairs. We also have some lovely contemporary tables, benches and shelving from Barnby Design and represent local furniture designers Waywood, who make bespoke tables, chairs and cabinets from sustainably sourced hardwood.  

In addition to furniture, we represent a variety of designers and makers specialising in mouthblown glassware, pottery, ceramics, woven goods, textiles, classic trugs and art.  

We also work with upcyclers who take reclaimed pieces of furniture and apply painted, decorative effects to give them a new lease of life.  

ash trug

Ash trug by Jane Crisp, available at Derwent House. - Credit: Derwent House

What other services does Derwent House offer? 

At Derwent House, we value a personal approach and take the time to discuss our clients’ requirements and understand what they’re looking for. We’re very hands-on and provide all the services you would expect from a specialist interior design store, whether it’s arranging the commission of an upholstered armchair, helping with fabric selections, advising on colour schemes or creating mood boards.  

When lockdown is lifted, we invite you to come and visit Derwent House to see the stunning selection of products on offer and find out more about our services.   

Derwent House is located at 3 Bridge Street, Witney, Oxfordshire, OX28 1BY.

For more information visit derwenthouseliving.co.uk or email hello@derwenthouseliving.co.uk.