London Craft Week, the city’s annual celebration of all things handmade, seems an unlikely event for the unveiling of an e-store. After all, the festival’s whole ethos is about face-to-face meetings with makers in their studios, while online shopping is about contactless speed and convenience. But The Room Service, which launched on Wednesday, is offering something slightly different.
Founder Sophie Coryton has a great eye and she has filled her virtual shelves with a quietly beautiful array of objects, artworks, tableware and accessories made by independent designers, craftspeople and heritage brands. Pieces such as Elvis & Kresse’s sunshine-yellow duffel bag (£350), made from reclaimed fire hoses and Burberry leather off-cuts, or the limited edition bronze camel’s head (£2,800) by award-winning British wildlife sculptor Hamish Mackie.
But, as Coryton says, The Room Service is also “more than a shop”. Inspired by the way hotels now celebrate design and craft, she decided to try to do the same for their interiors. “The Room Service aims to create and foster a design and craft community,” she explains. “Hotels, restaurants, design spaces and interior designers feature alongside each other on the site and openly share information about the craftspeople and makers they use, support and love.”
Her list of collaborators is impressive, ranging from Beaverbrook Garden Hotel to super-cool holiday house The Craftsman’s Cottage, and they have shared the details of some very desirable makers indeed. Beaverbrook, for example, has revealed that its extraordinary half-exposed sofas (from £9,700) are the work of master furniture maker Christopher Howe, and The Craftsman’s Cottage has opened up about the source of its Irish linen tablecloths (from £90), while soon-to-launch Cornish farm-to-food restaurant Crocadon has passed on the name behind its wonderfully weighty lead-crystal glasses (£295 for a pair).
This is hardly the first company to tap into the desire to purchase things encountered in a hotel room, but by bringing the makers into the heart of the process (customers buy straight from the studio), The Room Service is helping to champion the craftsmen, makers and designers whose names are too-often lost in commercial spaces.