Mungo and Betsy came into being after Tom Fraser and Lisa Butler began to share a workshop hidden away in the rolling valleys of Somerset.
This early interaction provided the creative spark for new ideas and a realisation that the most beautiful handmade lifestyle objects were the result of no single individual’s set of skills, but the result of collaboration.
We began to invite other designers, makers and suppliers from Britain’s impressive talent pool to join forces with us on different creations. We all realised that turning our once quiet and secluded workshop into a bustling hub of co-creation, where the very best of British design and craftsmanship could put their heads and tools together, would be capable of making many, many things that make life more beautiful.
Today, our joy comes from interacting and experimenting with as many materials, ideas and skills that we can find. This spirit of co-creation extends to our clients, who however ambitious or simple their ideas, always form an integral part of the story about how our creations came to be.
Our aim is to realise the potential of ideas by removing the restrictions of being limited to a single material, a particular tool or any one individual’s set of skills. Metal work, carpentry, textile design, salvage, sculpture, pottery, reclamation, architecture, upcycling, landscaping, ceramics and co-creation have become part of our common vocabulary.
Tom, co-founder, Mungo & Betsy
My passion for beautiful structures was kindled when I was an apprentice carpenter building traditional green oak structures. During this time I had the privilege to work on a number of timber-framed houses, garden buildings, conservatories and even bridges – all made by hand.
This was a fantastic introduction into design and making. It fired my passion and knowledge in all things woodcraft and building. Inevitably, it also fuelled my dream to start work on my own designs. This is why I took myself up to London to study at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, graduating with an MA in Traditional Art & Design.
The course gave me the chance to start playing around with all the exciting ideas swimming around my head. It gave me the chance to learn how great design is done from some of the most talented people out there. I was staggered by the sheer immensity of the talent being nurtured.
My fascination in all of the great systems of geometry, proportion and beauty has been with me ever since. From the Golden Mean (how to balance the three ingredients of beauty: symmetry, proportion and harmony) to the Fibonacci series (the mathematics of nature), and from musical harmony to colour theory, my approach to design and making was changed forever.
Everything I have put my hands to ever since, as both a designer and craftsman, has been grounded in this pursuit of beauty – whether an eco-house in Spain, a dining table made out of antique parquet flooring, art installations, tractor seat stools or a humble window frame.
Mungo & Betsy feels like a natural progression for my life to date. It is giving me the chance to apply my own skills, philosophy and ethics to the UK’s exciting and flourishing contemporary crafts movement.
Lisa, co-founder, Mungo & Betsy
When I think about it, I suppose the common thread linking everything up in my life has been to work out how to make things more beautiful. As a professional dancer, as a yoga teacher, as an assistant film director and now as part of our company Mungo & Betsy, my passion has always been about looking at a physical form and to explore its beauty.
Since I was a child I have always had an interest in antiques and collectables. My Aunty owned an antiques shop and I remember the excitement of arriving there and looking at all these beautiful objects in front of me. I love nothing more than rummaging through antique fairs and flea markets to quench my thirst for seeing how ‘good’ design works and feels.
It is such an exciting time to be involved in what I would describe as the “quality, made-by-hand scene” in the UK today. Culture, design, art and craftsmanship is so strong in the UK, with so many interesting people doing so many interesting things. And it might be just me, but so many of them seem to be living in Somerset.
It feels just right to be part of such an innovative model of design and making. We’re really proud of the fact that the things we make could never carry the stamp of any one person’s name. Mungo and Betsy is a stamp for collaboration and co-creation.