March 17, 2015
It’s Saint Patrick’s Day and Jonathan Legge is remembering his grandmother’s house and summers in the west of Ireland.
He tells me how his grandparents designed and built their home in the early 1940s, inspired by the conditions created from the surrounding woodlands. “It’s cedar clad”, he says, “the interior is lined in oak with copper and brass details – a slightly unusual, very special place.”
“Our grandfather in particular was very much a collector of the slightly odd. He had a wonderful thing for gold-leafed picture frames. It looked good against the oak interior.”
It takes a certain kind of creative mind to preserve childhood memories in so much detail; an appreciation for real objects, processes and simple beauty. Listening to his stories, it becomes clear where Makers & Brothers has its roots.
“We are the sum of all the many wonderful things we were exposed to as we were growing up”, Jonathan says.
The ‘we’ is Jonathan and his brother Mark. Together they developed Makers & Brothers, an online retail venture founded on curiosity and aiming to move away from overproduced products without honest stories. Products are beautifully curated to showcase design and skill, always with an Irish foundation. You can find anything from small furniture to home accessories, from stools to spoons.
Jonathan portrays an idyllic Irish upbringing. One filled with exploration, queues of questions and long walks with his parents where he “would be encouraged to gather flotsam and jetsam, pick flowers, spot-birds.” The product offering from Makers & Brothers reflects this level of care and detail, a kind of childhood fascination. It aims to design, create and present the very best of Irish and International craft and design.
A perfect example for Saint Patrick’s Day is the Select Reserve Whiskey Tumbler. Designed and developed by Makers & Brothers, it was produced by the Irish Made Glass Company and overseen by Jameson Master Blender Billy Leighton. Designer, maker and blender combined.
For the ideal tasting, a tumbler needs to have a wide base to allow for swirling and to aerate the whiskey. A narrow opening focuses the aroma and a simple glass, with a small ridge around the middle, sits right in the hand.
Prototype moulds were made from local oak, before being refined by The Irish Handmade Glass Company and mouth blown using traditional techniques. Each glass is handmade in County Waterford, on the banks of the Three Sisters River, the home of Irish Crystal.
Makers & Brothers has come a long way from the summers with their grandparents, but a relaxed narrative approach, “connected to the land, the weather and the everyday”, remains at the heart of everything.
Browsing the collection brings back that childhood feeling of unearthing an everyday object that suddenly becomes your greatest treasure. You can imagine holding the objects in your hands and inspecting every surface, coming up with countless questions about where they came from and how they do what they do. Everything has a story to be discovered.
“It can be hard to pin point where our thinking for Makers & Brothers emerged”, says Jonathan, “there is no one moment”. Instead, there are memories and there is Ireland.
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Photography by Alan Higgins
Words by Amelia Ebdon