Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Bunney, the Hare and the shoe horn

Have you heard the story about the bunney, the hare and the shoe horn? When I heard that two of my favourite designers were joining forces to create a limited edition object, I could not contain my excitement. Jewellery designer Bunney and master shoemaker Mr Hare decided to create a shoe horn like no other. When I hear the term 'shoe horn' my mind is filled with images of cheap plastic forms  that lie uninvitingly on the cash desks of any cobblers. Thankfully the fruits of this collaboration could not be any further from these images. With this shoe horn, there are a number of different components that require some kind of specialist trade so Hare and Bunney spent a great deal of time sourcing the finest workshops and craftsmen across the country to help create their shared vision. The result is a thing of real beauty. A shoehorn is something that you may only need to buy once, so the talented pair decided to make it feel as special as possible. The aptly named Exquisite Shoe Horn is carved from real, naturally shed, Scottish Ox horn, by a company founded in 1749. To provide ample thumb traction, mirror finished, solid 925 sterling silver coins bearing the Bunney and Mr. Hare marks have been inlaid at the handle by another company known to supply the royal households. Here we talk to Andrew Bunney to hear how the collaboration evolved and to find out more about the craftsmanship behind the object...

The Exquisite Shoe Horn.

SS: For me, a Bunney x Mr Hare collaboration makes perfect sense but how did it come about?
Andrew Bunney: It came out of a mutual respect and admiration. We realised that we both share a love of the Antiques Roadshow, and the idea that you can have something that will last many years and be beautiful for generations to come. We knew each other beforehand and when we talked about making something together it was clear that we should try and make something as beautiful as we could, that had elements that we both cared about. Of course, there is an affinity with our names too!

SS: What attracted you to creating a shoe horn in particular?
Andrew Bunney: It's the the natural balance between jewellery and shoes, and a perfect accessory for us to introduce. A shoehorn is something that you may only need to buy once, so we could really make this feel as special as possible.

A closer look at the black stone. 
On top of the horn is a silver cap (produced in Birmingham) that holds the gemstone which is then hallmarked.

SS: How would you describe it in your own words?
Andrew Bunney: I think it's very stylish, a touch sexy. It's quite beautiful as an object.

SS: Craft and local manufacture are obviously very important to you. Collaboration with local craftsmen and heritage is an integral facet of your brand identity. How did you identify the individuals to help realise your design?
Andrew Bunney: It's exciting to find the best producers where I can, but I don't really see it so much as collaboration - it's the traditional way of making things to use workshops that specialise in a certain craft. With this trade in particular, there are companies remaining that have been working in much the same way for many years, so naturally that comes with a lot of heritage. In finding these individuals or places, it is about research, but just as important is to find like-minded people that take an interest in what you are doing and what you want to achieve.

These silver coins start life being worked by hand to create the dies used for stamping out the logos - one with the BUNNEY logo, the other with Mr. Hare's

SS: I know that you enjoy visiting the different workshops around the country to learn what can be made and the possibilities that there are. Could you talk us through a few of the workshops used? And the processes involved in creating the shoe horn?
Andrew Bunney: I do find it fascinating, and you can learn so much from seeing just what people can do. With this shoehorn, there are a number of different components which require some kind of specialist trade, so even co-ordintaing something small scale like this, takes patience as things come from all around the country at different speeds.

The journey begins with the horn in Lancashire, which is naturally shed, picked and then carved to a specific shape. Craftspeople have been carrying out the practice in the same place for centuries. To make the silver coins I use a very-esteemed workshop in Birmingham that produces for all kinds of families and businesses around the world. They start life being worked by hand to create the dies used for stamping out the logos - one with the BUNNEY logo, the other with Mr. Hare's.

On top of the horn is a silver cap, again produced in Birmingham, that holds the gemstone which is then hallmarked. And then when everything is together, it is all assembled in London. The workshop in London is much in demand for trophies for international and domestic sporting events. And finally is the box, to house the shoehorn, which is bespoke and handmade in Walsall.

There is a story behind each individual part which is important to me, but ultimately the process is simply to produce something as well as possible.

SS: During our talk at Liberty, Mr Hare revealed that the horn was only the beginning. How do you see the collaboration developing?
Andrew Bunney: The natural way is to make beautiful accessories for men, and to make them as special as possible. Whilst we share a love of antiques, I don't want to make something old or something that has been made before, we have to move forward and make something relevant for now.

A thing of beauty from any angle. Here is a front view showing a red stone.

SS: What items can we look forward to in the near and far future?
Andrew Bunney: It's a little early to say now, but we are working on some ideas at the moment, again combining elements that we both know, thinking about what can be used daily or on occasion. We aim to create something new each season, but it's important to work steadily to ensure that it is as good as we can make it.

SS: Finally, where can we buy the design?
Andrew Bunney: It will be for sale in Dover Street Market in London, Colette in Paris, Surrender in Singapore and online at Oki-Ni and direct from Mr. Hare.

Is this not the most exquisite shoe horn you have ever seen? This has to be the perfect gift for any discerning shoe man. The Exquisite Shoehorn will only be available as an edition of fifty, twelve of Garnet and thirty eight of Black Spinel. Santa, if you're reading this...


salwar said...

Great post.. thanks for sharing..

Style Salvage Steve said...

Salwar: Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

I've got the horn for that shoe horn.


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