There's no denying that it’s the time of the maker. Small-batch, hand-made, one-off: all hyphenated descriptors of today’s decor holy grails, but it’s about so much more than just the admirable adjective.
Today’s design enthusiast desires what their neighbor doesn’t have. After all, we want our homes to tell a story—our story—to have a soul, and to be a true reflection of who we are as individuals. That isn’t to say that every piece you own has to be one-of-a-kind or limited edition; there’s nothing wrong with pairing a hand-woven African basket with your expertly hacked IKEA bookshelf.
But what once could only be scored in the bazaars of India or the markets of Uganda are more and more readily accessible through boutique retailers selling perfectly curated capsule collections (your PTO balance is going to thank you!) Let’s call it “The Mercantile Movement,” and it’s safe to say that more of this is what’s on tap for interiors and decor in the coming few years.
Adventurous, design-loving spirits are bringing truly unique worldly goods to the domestic market to fill your home with storied possessions. Some of my favorites include The Citizenry, Rose & Fitzgerald and The Little Market (you can read more about the companies' global efforts on each of their sites). These brands are hand-selecting weavers, woodworkers, artists and beyond from developing countries to create ethnic home goods with a modern twist. However, it’s more than just consumerism on a global scale. This is about social change; about giving a fair-trade platform to the truly skilled hands of artisans the world over that would normally not have such an opportunity, and investing back into these communities in real ways.
Consumers are yearning to better understand where their goods come from. We want to spend our money on things we can feel good about. Better yet if it comes with a story. The concept has already been adapted by some major retailers such as World Market, Anthropologie and West Elm, as well as many little guys (like the brands previously mentioned, and beyond). Prepare to see The Mercantile Movement explode.