What’s in a Label? A Tastemaker’s Journey Into the World of Artisans

MADE IN NEW YORK is a beautifully produced must-have reference guide (think Zagat) of 50 handcrafted works by a group of master artisans who conduct their trade in and around New York City and its environs. An idea that immediately captures the attention of both the layman and professional, it’s a perfect sourcebook for that one-of-a-kind superior quality handmade item, an elevated art that is having a resurgence in the marketplace with New York at the forefront of this surprising renaissance.

Meticulously researched and finely written by Nathalie Sann, a lithe, charming French native who has called New York home for the past fourteen years savoring the city both as an artisan specializing in embroidery and gold leaf and a food aficionado who authored two Rizzoli books Gourmet Shops of New York and Fresh from the Farm, the guide is a cross section of craftsmen ranging from a hatter, glovemaker, upholsterer, basket weaver to the more unusual – neon fabricator, decoy carver, straw marqueter, and mannequin maker (the renowned Ralph Pucci). Added to this mix are high-end specialties with strong appeal to the connoisseur – shipwright, car restorer, and billiards maker, among others.

Ms. Sann’s enthusiasm and respect for the artist/ tradesman is evident from the start of our interview when speaking of her childhood years and various experiences in pursuit of her craft that eventually resulted in writing this book. “Growing up in France my family’s interests centered on the art of creating whether it was my mother restoring beautiful antiques or my grandmother teaching me the finer elements of the culinary arts. We cultivated a farm in Brittany so working with my hands to make something comes quiet naturally. I later apprenticed at Lesage in Paris in the program of Interior Design and Furnishing and in New York I studied gilding for three years at The Isabel O’Neil Studio.”

The sourcebook idea stemmed from conversations between Ms. Sann and her mentor and eventual partner Renaud Dutreil who believed this to be the right moment to highlight New York’s small trade businesses. Dutreil, France’s former minister of small business and craftsmanship and the current chairman of LVMH North America, is a proponent of his country’s legislation to protect the professions’ integrity. The French government advocates a strong apprenticeship system, offers promotion and advertising, and publishes a list of certified craftsmen. This being the U.S., Ms. Sann followed a different, non-governmental route focusing on educating the consumer whereby each entry is a capsized story involving history, training, methodology and a lively description of the idiosyncratic traits these tradesmen bring to their creations. A wonderful case in point is Robert Hand, a decoy carver one of the oldest indigenous American crafts dating back to 250 A.D. Mr. Hand’s shop, tucked away in Sag Harbor, is strictly work-of-mouth – no website or social media connections, yet he is an award-winning artisan for his prized gunners and show birds painted in minute detail.

“As technology advances, certain crafts will become obsolete as the necessary tools for production will no longer be manufactured,” remarked Ms. Sann. “I want to bring an awareness to a broader public of the importance of fine workmanship inherent in a country’s heritage and how individual passions and commitments for making craft go well beyond the ubitiquous ‘Made in China’ label that is now part of the consumer’s consciousness.”

MADE IN NEW YORK’s stunning color photographs are by Ted Sann and the Foreword by Jaime Drake, one of “America’s Top 100 Designers” pays homage to the artisans whose creations help shape our cultural aesthetic. Buy it here on Amazon.

MADE IN NEW YORK: Handcrafted Works by Master Artisans
By Nathalie Sann
Photography by Ted Sann, Foreword by Jamie Drake
Rizzoli New York (available at Rizzoli)
Hardcover / 224 pages / 200 color photographs / 8? x 8?
PRICE: $29.95 US $34.00 CAN / £18.95

Photos by Ted Sann (in order):

Opening photo: Silversmith/Valentin Yotkow,  page 172
Eli Wilner & Company/Framer, page 74
The Gorst Studio/Illuminator and Calligrapher, page 114
Harry’s Pleating and Stitch/Pleater, page 156

About Tamara Moscowitz (39 Articles)
Tamara Moscowitz is a writer on art, design, and home décor for digital and print media. Starting out as a features writer for Florida Designers Review and Florida Design she transitioned to online magazines that include elledecor.com, designintell/vandm.com, and creativeabode.com. Currently, in addition to contributing articles to Woman Around Town she also writes for InteriorDesign.net. She was Founder and Managing Editor of “The Jewish Experience,” a magazine published under the auspices of the Center for Jewish History one of several undertakings as director of communications. As a book publicist she freelanced at Harcourt, among others, planning press and publicity activities for foreign authors. Her long association with PEN American Center, the international writers organization involved fundraising events and marketing literary forums.