Craft Pop-Up Series No.4: Jess Fügler

Following on from last year’s 'American Craftsmen in Britain' profiles, Shinola and Jocks&Nerds have collaborated again to create a unique series of pop-up events in Shinola’s London shop. Started in Spring, craftspeople from various disciplines have set up their own shops within the Shinola store. Members of the public can watch them work, learn what is involved in their craft, and purchase their own bespoke items.

Jess Fügler, 27, bicycle bell maker

Where are you from?
The USA; I grew up in Florida. Since then I have lived in Germany, France, London and New York.

How did you end up making bells for bicycles?
I studied Design Products at the Royal College of Art, London. During one project, “Something Old, Something New”, I started looking at traditional English crafts. This is when I stumbled upon the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in east London. I immediately fell in love with the scale of the large church bells and the casting involved to make them. Through much research and experimentation, this led me to making my first bicycle bells.

What inspires your work?
A lot of my inspiration comes from looking at past and current cultures. There is a lot to take from indigenous crafts, tribal objects, and learning how the rest of the world sees things.

What makes your job so special?
Because my work tends to manifest itself as a consumer product, it can easily be viewed as an ordinary object. I believe my attention to detail and the ability to weave in layers of story and meaning transforms the commonplace object into something poetic and considered.

Is there a community aspect to your work making bells?
I work with a range of people in order to make my bells today. When I was developing the first bells, I consulted with some campanologists (bell ringers) in order to design certain shapes for particular notes.

Why do you think there is a resurgence in craft in the 21st century and why is that important?
Traditionally the word “craft” may refer to an object made by hand. Today, however, there are other ways that something can be made “by hand” such as 3D printing which may be conceived and designed by an individual; so craft works in many ways in the 21st century. The channels of distribution have opened up too with modern technology so that a designer can communicate directly with the end consumer which is interesting. You could say that the consumers are the new patrons.

Jess Fügler will be handcrafting her bespoke bicycle bells at the Shinola store during the London Design Festival from 12-6pm on Friday 25 September and Saturday 26 September and from 12-4pm on Sunday 27 September

Shinola, 13 Newburgh Street, London W1