Attention all you gift-hunters: take a leaf out of my book. When I feel the need to bestow a special, individual gift upon a special individual person (or even upon myself), my first stop is the Craft and Design Centre. I don’t waste time trudging round the uninspiring shopping malls or the anonymous shops on the High Street where everything starts to look the same after half an hour. Instead, I take my leisurely pick of the myriad hand-made goodies on offer in this Al-Addin’s cave of creativity tucked away in the Northern Quarter.
Some of Manchester’s finest craft and design people occupy around twenty studios in this former Victorian market building where you will find jewellery, ceramics, glass, textiles, leather and prints to delight and entice you. You can watch them at work and, from time to time, try your hand in organised workshops. There are also special one-off exhibitions, currently Kate Colin’s The Art of the Fold, which is origami as you’ve never seen it. If, like The Centre, you champion the sustainable, traditional skills of craftspeople, their products come with a bonus – the ecological feel-good factor.
Christmas has been and gone but there are birthdays coming all the time and this is my shopping destination for those specially chosen gifts: and while I’m at it, I might even reward myself for my efforts with refreshments at the on-site café bar.