Craft Arts

Asheville’s Craft Fair Celebrates 70th Anniversary with Design Vignettes

Matt Tommey, artist

The summer edition of the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands returns to the US Cellular Center Friday through Sunday, July 21–23. Entering its 7th decade, this event—sponsored in part by The Laurel of Asheville—offers new design vignettes demonstrating the use of craft in both form and function. Working with a team of designers and architects, Southern Highland Craft Guild (SHCG) makers Matt Tommey, Barbara Zaretsky of BZDesign, and Brian and Melanie Boggs of Brian Boggs Chairmakers transformed everyday rooms into handmade spaces featuring their own work and that of other Guild makers.

“When I proposed the design vignettes for our 70th anniversary summer craft fair, I felt it would be a wonderful way to show fine craft in context,” says Tommey. “So many of our clients are folks who have moved to the mountains, love the craft community here in Asheville and want to incorporate handmade items throughout their homes. This project is a perfect way for people to see handmade fine craft in a variety of home styles and used by the best designers and builders in the region.”

In the Craft Fair’s early years, vignettes were a part of the visitor experience. However, as the craft industry grows, the new focus on partnership demands more robust participation and planning. Local interior designers, architects and builders collaborating on the new design vignettes include Alchemy Design Studio, ID.ology Interiors & Design, Rusticks, Platt Architecture, Samsel Architects, and Living Stone Design + Build.

“The opportunity to work with designers and architects I admire allows me to see my work in a different way— through their professional vision,” says Zaretsky. “The vignettes provide the shopper with an opportunity to walk into and experience a thoughtfully designed bedroom, dining room or living room filled with handcrafted elements created by local and regional makers.”

The fair will feature the work of nearly 150 craftspeople working in clay, wood, metal, glass, fiber, natural materials, paper, leather, mixed media and jewelry. Member display booths will fill both floors of the US Cellular Center. Each maker has undergone a two-step jury process as a part of the Guild’s legacy to uphold a set of standards established by their creative peers. “

With the design vignettes, the SHCG has added a new element allowing us to showcase our work in an environment similar to what our clients might live in,” says Melanie Boggs. “It gives visitors a new venue for imagining what is possible in their own home. These vignettes also provide a great format for beginning conversations with potential clients as well as offering a fresh new way to engage with our artistic partners and colleagues, building a stronger trade community.”

The US Cellular Center is located at 87 Haywood Street, downtown Asheville. Hours are Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: General $8, Weekend Pass $12, Students $5, Children under 12 free. Learn more at or by calling 828.298.7928.

Leave a Comment