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Under The Sun
  • Arts & Crafts: Robert Noble Mill
  • Pedro Fernandes
  • Arts & Crafts
Arts & Crafts: Robert Noble Mill

Maker's hands, dirty with dye.

What humans can craft and build with their bare hands is hypnotizing. Shelf products don’t show a hair of the entire process. Behind the mesmerizing act of making, people look different. Makes us want to thank them for what they’re doing. They don’t need the compliments to breathe, even though they’ll appreciate the kindness. After all these years, they want to keep seeing each other. With food on the table and social accomplishment on the side. A simple rule. Just like any other person, just like us.

Here’s what Liam Dickson, author of the video and photos, has to say about the Robert Noble Mill, in Peebles, Scotland:

Over more than two centuries, the Ballantyne businesses expanded to such an extent that larger premises were required. In 1884, D. Ballantyne moved to Peebles and built March Street Mills, along with tied housing for workers. The mill employed 700 people at the time, in its heyday the textiles industry employed 15-20,000 locals in the Scottish Borders. The beginnings of Robert Noble can be traced as far back as 1666.
The Mill supplies fabric to global brands reaching US, Japan, UK, Europe... Ralph Lauren, Hackett, Paul Smith, Duchamp, House of Bruar, Mackintosh, Takisada, Paul Stuart, Charles Tyrwitt, J Crew, Brooks Brothers... In 2015 Robert Noble employs 87 skilled designers, weavers, tuners, finishers, darners, drawers and warpers.

We confess ourselves identified in this making environment. We admire this history and the people behind it so much that we don’t want to just thank them. We want to build on their skills and experience to create something better. Something that drinks from the past but is also digested in contemporaneity. We shouldn't see a business like Robert Mill as a failure to encompass the modern times. It's an opportunity. That is why we felt so inspired collecting the burel (what is burel?) works from the Portuguese mountains, a similar tradition to the Scottish ones. Or even in pure awe when we were sourcing for the leathers and crafters in Santarém, Portugal. Have a look at these makers, portrayed in the photo report made by the kind Honor Kennedy for Carryology.

For us, the people behind fair trade productions make better products, wherever they are in world. Life becomes more human with artisanal products. And failure is just part of the aesthetics, even though we can't spot it. You'll thank them.

Finally! Much more could be said! So, have a look at Liam Dickson’s video and photos below, in the Robert Noble Mill.

Sun on golden threads

Mill worker in its environment

Swatches of Scottish fabric

Designer in the mill's office

  • Pedro Fernandes
  • Arts & Crafts