Craftsmanship and creativity evidently run in the genes for the Roberts family. Father Huw is a cabinet maker, mother Ulya is a seamstress and together with their daughters Sara, Ella and Isky they make beautifully crafted things for their family label Dot & Cross. We talked to Isky about her family business and the ethos behind their brand…
Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
We’re Huw, Ulya, Sara, Ella and Isky, and we’re the Roberts family. We’re a London based family business and we use our individual skills in wood working, jewellery making, tailoring and bookbinding to design and create handmade pieces under the name Dot & Cross.
What is the concept behind Dot & Cross?
We’re a creative family and have always talked about starting a business to sell quality handmade pieces. The right time came for us last year and we thought ‘lets do it!’. Our aim is to produce classic, well-made, functional pieces using the best materials that will stand the test of time.
How do you think British craft has changed in the last few years? Do you think it’s seen differently now than it was 10 years ago?
We do think there is more demand for British craft. British manufacture has suffered in the past and we believe shoppers are now making more intelligent decisions when buying and are looking for quality and a story behind a product. It’s great to know that British-made products can compete in the marketplace and it’s really nice to see skilled craftsmanship becoming popular again. For example, our dad is a cabinet maker and it’s a skill we want to champion and safeguard for the future.
Top: Huw turning the Lighthouse Tealight Holder (below) on his lathe, £40
What do you look to for inspiration?
We are inspired by so much: our surroundings, nature, art, food, fashion, travel… anything really. Design is an important part of our lives and we want to be surrounded by beautiful but functional items that make our daily lives that little bit better.
Can you talk us through your creative process?
We usually start with an image (a print, shape, colour or texture) that sparks an idea and then create a mood board to develop it. We then experiment with materials, refine ideas and test it to see how it works in the home, at the desk or out and about. We are our own brand ambassadors and are always wearing or using a piece that we’ve made!
Dot & Cross products include handbound books, jewellery and turned wood. How do you decide what to make?
We develop a range in each discipline to try and make sure we have an even spread on offer. We always try to link the range back to our strap line and ethos: ‘Beautiful things for home, work and life.’
Hand stitching our Ampersand Notebook
Your mother was a seamstress. Will we be seeing sewn products on the shelves of Dot & Cross soon?
Well, we have just designed and launched a new product: the Agatha wash bag, which our mother made. We’re hoping to introduce a few more over the coming months so watch this space!
Can you describe your studio?
It’s not a huge space but we have a large desk that can fit up to two people and lots of shelving for all our books, products and tools. We try to be as organised as we can but sometimes this doesn’t work! Box files and pull-out drawers are brilliant as that helps us keep track of our products.
Do you like to surround yourself by particular sounds or objects while you work?
We try to make our studio inspirational (and organised!) and have created a collage on the wall of images, articles and designs we love. In terms of sounds, this varies, but silence can be as productive or motivating as music!
How would you spend your perfect day?
It’s been so hectic the last few months that right now our perfect day would be spent relaxing (technology-free!), catching up with family and friends and eating good food.