Today, we present the eighth article in our ten-year anniversary series, sharing ten lessons we've learned since our inception, as designers, makers, social entrepreneurs and educators.
We have always believed that people and planet are two sides of the same coin, and that true sustainability can't be achieved without supporting the communities we live and work in. That’s why we established our award-winning Goldfinger Academy - to enhance our community's career opportunities and wellbeing through teaching woodworking and craft, and sharing the joy that comes with making something with your own two hands.
We’ve seen first-hand the impact that imparting the values of craftsmanship to children at an early age can have. Since 2020, we have had the pleasure of delivering Manufacto, the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès’ pioneering craftsmanship programme taught in schools.
Manufacto was started in 2016 by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès in partnership with the Paris school board, the Compagnons du Devoir et du Tour de France and the École Camondo in Paris. Taught in volunteer schools over a twelve week period, Manufacto aims to change the perception of the craft field and open up new possibilities in terms of education and training for students.
Kensington Aldridge Academy
Last autumn, we were delighted to bring Manufacto to Kensington Aldridge Academy, a local school in the heart of Notting Hill that specialises in the performing and creative arts. Over the course of 12 weeks, we introduced a group of enthusiastic Year 9s to sustainable woodworking and design. From the first sketch and plans to the finished object, we guided each student through the process of designing and constructing their own wooden lamp (one of 13 objects specially designed for Manufacto).
George Brown, a Teacher of Design & Technology at Kensington Aldridge Academy, told us how his students “genuinely enjoyed” the making experience, gaining new craft skills and elevating their abilities:
Students sketch their initial designs, and use hand tools to carefully construct their wooden lamp.
Bringing woodworking into schools allows us to introduce children to sustainable design principles. As well as putting craftsmanship on their map at an early age, it also encourages hands-on problem solving skills, creative thinking, and collaboration. George saw “a significant stride in confidence” in his students over the course of Manufacto, as well as a remarkable improvement in teamwork:
Students tour Goldfinger’s furniture workshop.
As part of the programme, we welcomed the class into our furniture showroom and workshop in West London, where they got a chance to meet our team and hear first-hand about what it’s like to work as a maker. This experience, George tells us, had “a profound impact” on his students. Visiting our furniture workshop was “particularly enlightening”, inspiring conversations about future career pathways in craft and design:
Students decorate their lamps using pyrography pens.
It is always a delight to witness the enthusiasm and excitement in each student as they switch on their lamp for the first time, and see at long last the final result of their focused work. After twelve weeks of work carefully measuring, marking, sanding, drilling, and designing, and with the final screws in place, it’s time for the ‘lightbulb’ moment. As the lamp is switched on, and the streaks of light break through the wooden panels, we’re met with screams of delight. It works! Smiles light up the room, as students experience the joy and pride of seeing their designs come to life, and George saw his once tentative students become confident makers:
The Lightbulb Moment.
We have had an incredible time working with the students at Kensington Aldridge Academy, and we couldn’t be prouder of what they have achieved over the course of just twelve weeks.
Nurturing craft skills from an early age can have a lasting impact on a child’s education. As well as creating opportunities for new career pathways, we hope that by passing down time-honoured craft skills, such as precision and concentration, and instilling values of sustainability early on, we can illuminate new possibilities, and inspire young people to become the sustainably-minded designers of tomorrow.
Marguerite-Marie Mitterlehner, CSR / Sustainability Manager, Hermès GB
George Brown, Teacher of Design & Technology, Kensington Aldridge Academy
Photography: Andrew Meredith