11th September 2019

In the first of an informal series where we introduce members of Cockpit’s dedicated management team, we’re starting at the top with CEO, Annie Warburton.

Annie joined Cockpit in November last year, after 5 years as Creative Director with the Crafts Council. Her extensive knowledge and passion for all things craft and design is infectious, and she’s brought a new energy to our community.

As someone who appears never to stop, how’ve you chosen to unwind this summer?
I spent ten days at a friend’s place near Chania in northwest Crete with my partner. There’s no Wi-Fi, so I made my way through a stack of books and magazines whilst drinking sludgy Greek coffee and eating warm figs straight off the tree. It was a total reset for brain and heart.

Films, theatre, books … What’s been your ‘non-craft’ highlight so far this year?
In that stack of books was Max Porter’s ‘Lanny’, which captures the curiosity of rural England brilliantly. But it was Porter’s previous novel, ‘Grief is the Thing with Feathers’ which most blew me away. Both books are poetic, moving and hilarious by turns. Less well known, Will Harris’s ‘Mixed-race Superman’ is an extraordinary meditation on identity. On film, as well as revisiting favourites like ‘Milk’ and ‘Boyhood’, I’ve loved the TV documentaries on north London boys Sean Scully and Don McCullin. Oh and ‘Hamilton’ totally lives up to the hype.

What’s your go-to indulgence in London?
There’s no place like home! I’m lucky to live in Waterloo, with The Cut bar at the Young Vic my local and Lower Marsh my high street, where I’m partial to Coleman Coffee Roasters’ Persian nougat and Staffordshire oatcakes.

London Design Week is fast approaching – what’s on your list of must-sees?
I’m looking forward to Please Sit at Fenton House, featuring a stellar line-up of designers – Maisie Broadhead, Carl Clerkin, Gitta Gschwendtner, Frith Kerr, Michael Marriott, and Nina Tolstrup – who’ve each designed a chair in response to a detail in this 17th century Hampstead merchant’s home. Lives, Loves, Losses: Traces at the same venue was one of the most compelling craft exhibitions I’ve seen in recent years.

As a fan of Marlène Huissoud whose dark, organic sculptures I showed at Design Miami/ Basel in 2016, I was gutted when she moved her studio to Paris.  Happily, Marlène’s back in London for LDF where she’ll be discussing biodesign with Maurizio Montalti and Mark Miodownik at the Global Design Forum and showing a very special new work – an urban insect habitat –  as part of Brompton Biotopia. Whet your appetite by listening to her on Grant Gibson’s excellent Material Matters podcast.

 There are plenty of chances to see Cockpit makers around town during LDF. I’m thrilled that Barbara Chandler has picked Jacob Monk for her Design Fresh showcase of 30 new talents at 100% Design. Jacob, a talented textile designer and weaver with a painterly sensibility, recently relocated from Manchester to join Cockpit on a Clothworkers Award.

Cockpit’s proud to be part of South East Maker’s Club. I’m one of the judges on The Off-Cut Challenge at creative fabrication company Aldworth James & Bond, and we’re offering a free business coaching session for creatives in Deptford Market Yard on Saturday the 14th. If you fancy something more hands-on, Cockpit resident Yusuf Osman is running a leather workshop on the 15th. John Malkovich was a recent student on one of Yusuf’s courses, so you’ll be in good company.

And finally, what’s exciting you right now about being at Cockpit?
The launch of Make It! our programme offering free studio space and business support for makers aged under 25. And I can’t wait to visit Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft to see what weaver Alice Timmis has created during her summer residency working on an historic George Maxwell loom in what is the first of Cockpit’s new series of cultural partnerships.

Photos: top – woven textiles by Alice Timmis, middle – Annie in Chania, bottom – Annie at Cockpit Open Studios.