London designers explain how Instagram has changed their industry

We speak to five designers and crafters about how the social media platform has changed the way they do business and influenced their work

Jono Smart

Jono Smart

@jonosmart, 84.5k followers

Instagram is part of daily life, for sure. I joined when I started my studio three years ago. I wasnt a full time potter back then, I was a garden designer and it was a hobby, and it just grew really quickly. Now its 100 per cent how my business works. Every lead, every commission, all my direct customers come from Instagram. And theyre from all over the world. Ive had restaurants in New York, Argentina and Japan find me through Instagram. I wouldnt have a studio without it. Its been completely life-changing. Ive had people following me the entire time that Ive just got to know. Ive met quite a few of them in real life and theyve watched me grow from not knowing what Im doing to now so I cant pretend to be too professional. Im not putting on a professional face, its more behind the scenes stuff – “This is how I am”. I make for about three months, open up my shop three or four times a year and it sells in one or two days to people on Instagram.

I look at what people have liked on the app to work out what colours and shapes to make more of. I have to be careful not to let it creatively drive me, as people can only like what you put in front of them.

I travel to meet other Instagram craftsman and some of them are my best friends now. Its a big part of my personal life, too. @floriangadsby is the best potter in the UK, but I also love @woodwoven and @hopeinthewoods, who makes the most beautiful spoons. Learn to take good photographs, its the best thing you can do to make sure your business grows. Instagram bypasses traditional routes to market. By not having wholesalers in the way, youre keeping 100 per cent of what you sell. That means potters and craftspeople can survive, so its made a huge difference to the living a potter can make.

Karl Meier

Craig & Karl

@craigandkarl, 62.3k followers

Its the go to place now for the visual world. If youre not on it, theres a whole visual culture youre missing out on. I follow observational accounts because thats how I felt Instagram used to be before the commercialisation of it. Ive noticed in my personal world friends who were on Instagram in the beginning were thinking about imagery and funny photos and now you just see brands. I guess you just notice it in the way your feed changes. Its evolved into something else now, which is kind of inevitable.

Thats why we just try to keep ours observational and its mainly just me and my partner Craig Redman doing the work, its our world and the things we see and do. We dont try to make it too much about one thing. People might be less inclined to go and look at our website, but if they see it on Instagram first then they might go there to find the rest of the work. I dont think we would have shown us in the process of doing the work before, because there was more focus on the finished product. But now, especially since Stories, if we do an installation we like to walk you through it. Its less precious, which is nice.

Previously to this there wasnt a way for someone who was just interested in design to get in touch with you and say I like this, and its nice to get that feedback. Another thing is that everyones references are laid bare for everyone to see on this platform, so if someone says this reminds me of this then its quite obvious if theyve taken inspiration from somewhere else. Also, you get to see a show in New York theyre talking about even if youre not in New York.

Fernando Laposse

Fernando Laposse

@fernandolaposse, 2,590 followers

Ive never been very technologically adept so I got on to Instagram quite late. I did something for Selfridges two years after I graduated from Central Saint Martins and they were the ones who prompted me to get into it. Maybe a year ago I started to see it as a professional thing rather than a social thing.

I have my website, which Ive had since before I graduated and through checking analytics I can see that 80 per cent of traffic comes from Instagram, so I get a lot of commercial use out of it. Instagram has replaced the design blog. At the end of the day, its the same phenomenon, its just that Instagram is so immediate and people are constantly scrolling through it that the flow of images youre exposed to is much larger. There are pros and cons, of course.

A lot of my posts are about what happens behind the scenes, before the finished product. In my latest project, Im working with indigenous farmers in Mexico so its a social venture as well as a design one, a research-heavy project. No one will have the patience to go through the whole thing on my website but if its done in small doses with videos and images, I think thats really engaging. I can be constantly reminding people of the project and drawing it out instead of putting it all out there in one go.

I rarely shoot anything on my phone. I do my own photography with a DSLR camera and record high resolution video that I then edit, so I dont post every day, but its well produced.

Grace Winteringham


@patternity, 63.1k followers

It started off as a platform to share photos of the patterns my partner Anna Murray and I were seeing every day. Wed marvel at the mundane and find beauty in the banal, sharing our own inspirations and journeys. Liv Taylor, our head of research and digital, curates the content to reflect our way of thinking and being – its now a showcase of everything we do.

We use Instagram as a way to connect with our community and talk about our philosophy, our projects, events and research, and we post most days. A core part of our philosophy is the idea that pattern inspiration is everywhere, and noticing a simple stripe, or a blossoming cloud can lead to a more positive and creative life. We have a global following, and it's so inspiring to see how our pattern-loving community use #Patternity to share their own pattern finds and unite the world through pattern from Thailand to Toronto, Helsinki to Hawaii.

Celebrating the natural world is a key passion of Patternity and we love the @cloudappsoc for sharing the wonders of the sky above and @thebush__ for inspirational greenery and architectural plantscapes that highlight the patterns and colours that cross between the natural and manmade.

@teddyco is a brilliant pattern spotter in Tel Aviv. are also a favourite for their work raising awareness about our oceans and their projects that tackle the challenges through design.

Matteo Fogale and Laetitia de Allegri

De Allegri and Fogale

@deallegrifogale, 2,031 followers

Matteo: For us process is very important. Everything we do, every material, has a story and theres always a reason we do something, so we like to share that. Hopefully, it means people see greater value in what we do and appreciate the craft behind it. I think thats very important, not only for our designs but for design in general. I think nowadays theres more awareness and people want to know where things come from and how theyre made. A few years back people didnt care much about it and bought things that were mass-produced. Now craft is more appreciated. Were showing pieces in Milan with Living Correiere, and they contacted us on Instagram, so its interesting how people connect there now, rather than email.

Laetitia: We always say that we get more business from Instagram these days than we do from our website. Even walking around Milan, everyones talking about seeing your work on Instagram. Every time weve met someone and asked what they do, we go straight to their feed and start following them, so for us its a way to see how other people work. Id say its pretty essential for people to be on it. And its a way to grow the community. Visually, its really inspiring because you can see whats going on in different places. Our feed fills up with Australian design and US design and its really interesting. Its great because it reminds you that youre sharing your information with the whole world, too. Everything is linked together in a much more practical way.

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