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, so keep an eye on the website for up-to-date programmes. The Centre is a champion of unique design, creativity and the traditional skills of craftspeople, which means that their products come with a bonus: each time you buy something, you also get the satisfaction of knowing that you are encouraging sustainable manufacturing.
Birthdays, engagements, weddings, house-warmings – whatever the occasion – this is my shopping destination for those specially chosen gifts, either off-the-shelf or made-to-order: and when the choosing is done, I might celebrate my successful present-picking with refreshments at the on-site café bar.