3 Things Designers Would Like You to Know About Craft
Craft calls out to us on many levels and yet do we know what it is? Designers give us the behind-the-scenes story
Just as technology has given artisans a new way of selling, it has also equipped them with a new ways of learning and making. We spoke to three designers actively making products about what their work means in the digital age. They were part of a forum at this year’s Archifest, Machining Touch: Artisans & Fabricators.
- Matthijs Rikken, co-founder and creative director of the multidiscipline Studio DAM
- Industrial designer and veteran in the field of furniture design in Singapore, Nathan Yong of Nathan Yong Designs
- Justin Lim, founder and head artisan at Tsuri Custom Concrete
Leave the notion of organic, unbleached textiles or beeswaxed reclaimed wood tables at the door.
Rikken: “As much as Studio DAM’s product design side prefers to work with natural materials we don’t see that working with engineered materials cannot be a craft.
Personally, I see craft as an occupation requiring special skill, especially manual skills. Crafting is to make or manufacture an object or product with skill and careful attention to detail.”
Though the creating was done on the computer and the pieces cut by laser, the process of sketching, prototyping, sanding, cleaning and pasting was done by hand.
There is no hushing up craft’s complex relationship with technology. “Everything starts with the hand even if it’s the keyboard,” says Rikken. The internet is a fount of inspiration and learning opportunities and often where many start before closing the laptop to start creating.
Yong often gets asked ‘why is your chair so expensive?’ A clean-lined piece of furniture can look so simple to make that we question the gap between price and visible ‘work’.
“First of all, expensive is relative. Secondly, the cost of a product is not solely based on the production of the piece you see at the end. It is what you cannot see which is hard to explain to the consumer. There are costs like rental, labour, marketing, exchange rate and wastage. All of those are controlled by different companies in the chain.”
“The cheaper chair is made of a different species of wood and cut at a younger age, laminated to form a thicker leg, stained to a colour for perceived higher value, put together with screws and produced at a 1000 pieces per run. The higher priced chair is cut from an older tree that gives strength. Each leg is a solid piece of wood; there is no staining; the chair is well made with time-proven methods and produced in small batches.
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