Preserving Remarkable Handicrafts

The Ming family of vases, new from Currey & Company.
The Ming family of vases, new from Currey & Company.

Given how diligently we are growing the number of accessories we offer (our newest introductions are now live on our website), we thought it would be helpful to those of you purchasing our decorative products to understand the philosophy behind the wonderful handicrafts we bring to market. This journey involves following the paths of previous merchants who have travelled far and wide in order to present to the New World pieces from the Old World. One of the most famous and prestigious, of course, was Marco Polo, who helped the European royals and their courtiers to discover the marvels of Chinese porcelain, one of the most ancient and sophisticated ceramics in the world. 

The Noble Tradition of Handicrafts

A typical table of a craftsperson who will be hand-painting porcelain handicrafts.
A typical table of a craftsperson who will be hand-painting porcelain handicrafts.

In continuing this tradition, we see the word merchant as an illustrious one with nobleness behind its meaning. At the time Marco Polo was bringing new wares to Europe, China was already one of the most developed countries in the world when it came to creating highly refined clay work. We at Currey & Company continue this cultural mission of bringing authentic, historical handicrafts to the other side of the world, though our quest has a deeper sensitivity behind it than merely buying and selling: we are ensuring that these arts survive by supporting the craftsmen and craftswomen from whom we source. After all, they cannot continue to practice their crafts if their goods are not purchased, the sale of which finances their ongoing artisanship. 

Jean-Charles Chappuis, who assists Brownlee Currey in identifying where to buy finely handcrafted pieces in Asia, at home.
Jean-Charles Chappuis, who assists Brownlee Currey in identifying where to buy finely handcrafted pieces in Asia, at home.

Jean-Charles Chappuis, who assists Brownlee Currey in identifying where to buy finely handcrafted pieces in Asia, explains that by sourcing from true artisans, we are safeguarding the techniques they employ when they create time-honoured pieces. “We feel that preserving the world heritage is one of the most important things we can do as a home furnishings company,” he explains. “We are buying the wonderful ceramic productions from Asia not because of how they are priced but because this is the last frontier of the world of handicrafts. Considering this is one of the few places artisanal wares of this calibre can still be found today, we made the decision to put aside all political considerations and economical calculations, and focus on our love for the craftsmen.”

A craftswoman making blue and white handicrafts.
A craftswoman making blue and white handicrafts.

He sees the effort as a serious one: “If we approach sourcing with our hearts in the right place, we become a part of a big family that exists in a world with no borders. In this world, we are playing the historical role of the merchant who ensures that the arts and crafts will continue to be brought forward.” Among the most satisfying aspects of the exchanges taking place are the cultural collaborations our team has the chance to have with many families who specialize in specific handicrafts. In the porcelain world, the craftspeople become so highly skilled because one group of artisans will only create blue and white, while others will only produce Oxblood. While one family only works with Celadon, another will produce only Imperial white. 

Brownlee Currey during a trip to Asia sourcing products for our accessories collection.
Brownlee Currey during a trip to Asia sourcing products for our accessories collection, the piece he is holding is one of the vintage artifacts we have begun bringing to market.

“When we travel to Asia, Brownlee and I spend many hours in conversation with the craftspeople about how our ideas could enhance their techniques and how their techniques influence our perceptions,” Jean-Charles explains. “It is always creative and passionate, and these are deep cultural exchanges. Given we are experiencing a terrible crisis that has shaken all our beliefs, we know there is no better time to continue focusing on authenticity, purity, and honesty.” 

Jean-Charles and Robert Currey, who is also passionate about what it means to be a merchant, sourcing handicrafts in Asia.
Jean-Charles and Robert Currey, who is also passionate about what it means to be a merchant, sourcing handicrafts in Asia.

It is obvious that Jean-Charles is one of the members of our Currey & Company family who deeply understands the importance of preserving world patrimony, as is our president. “Brownlee Currey and his team are passionately devoted to making the sourcing of accessories all about the handicrafts, in the most noble sense of the word,” Jean-Charles explains. “While enhancing the company’s aesthetic, this focus will bring an added value because it provides our clients with the opportunity to be links in the chain of support that has been going on as long as humanity has been creating and selling artisanal wares.”

Bringing Beauty to America

The Kara and Karoo vases, new from Currey & Company.
The Kara and Karoo vases, new from Currey & Company.

We hope you understand a bit more about our philosophy when we are choosing which handicrafts to bring to America—always with a focus on products that are aesthetically beautiful, of course. You can find an array of these in our new offerings now on our website. Simply click on accessories to find our full selection of decorative items.