Why Craft Still Matters In A Digital World

“Craft is more than just a way of making things; perhaps it’s a way of thinking.”

Brendan Lee Satish Tang

Machines are slowly creeping into every aspect of our lives, from how we communicate to how we work, along with a healthy debate over how much or how little we should resist. But there’s one area where we’ve all but surrendered to machines: what we consume. Virtually everything we buy is mass-produced.

Still, consumers are hungry for craft, even as it becomes a casualty of industrial production. Enterprising makers have earned millions on Etsy, big-box design retailers are sprinkling small-batch offerings into their stores, and DIY design is gaining steam. This leads us to wonder: Where does craft sit in a world where digitised, mechanised fabrication is becoming more sophisticated?

Why we think craft matters.

Craft’s role is far from obsolete: It ties us to our history, makes us more physically aware, and empowers us creatively.

Natural fibres are living materials. For us they are one of the most versatile, elegant, and beautiful materials and they are enormously diverse.

What’s our fabrication process like?

Our works are made out of natural fibres like kauna reed, palm leaves, and bamboo. The very first–and most important step–is selecting the right material.

What role does craft play in the age of industrial production?

It is very important to deal with digital technologies, which have their place and their importance but certain impressions, the beauty, and uniqueness of things can never be realised without a craftsman who is able to dialogue with his material. Any product development is preceded by prototyping. In other words, artisan production is always part of industrial product development–the work at the computer is of primary importance, but craftmanship, manual work, will always remain.

Does craft matter today?

Yes, of course. It requires and promotes entire human beings, and makes people more satisfied because they can see what they have created.


Brendan Lee Satish Tang

Why Basketry?

Natural Fibres are one of the most responsive materials we have ever worked with. There are very few materials that can match the range and diversity of fabricating that these materials can. It can be hand formed.

How do new collections come about?

The work starts as conceptual ideas in our sketchbooks. Once we have resolved the overall composition, we move to the prototyping, where we make all the elements we will need in a piece.

Does craft still matter today?

It plays the same role it always has, which is to explore this human experience beyond the visual and the cerebral: to explore it though our hands.


Kristina Rothe

Why Natural Fibres?

We like the weight of our materials and that it can be fragile, light, and stable at the same time.

How do you fabricate bags and baskets?

We use moulds to fabricate our bags and baskets when we weave with kauna. We use moulds made with bamboo or wood, or some times we use boxes, or buckets or pots or vessels. We then weave the kauna around the mould.

For palm leaves and bamboo, we do not use any moulds.

What role does craft play in the age of industrial production?

It’s the important opposite to our machine-made world. It slows everything down, keeps traditional techniques alive, and enables us to make something by ourselves.

Does craft still matter today?

Yes, of course. It keeps us alive and happy. We think it’s wonderful to use or to look at handmade items. And we are sure there is a lasting joy to be surrounded by and to live with these things.


Celia Pym

Why Crochet?
We really love the colour and different textures it adds.

What role does craft play in the age of industrial production?

We value craft for informing our relationship with materials. We value knowing the touch, the weight, the hand, the smell, and the color of the materials. Craft develops your ability to work with your hands and hold the knowledge in your body of how you play with the materials. This is an intimate knowledge and can be fun. For us, working this way makes us very aware of scale because if we are using our hands and our muscles to construct something the scale is always in relation to our body.

This is one way that craft feels different from industrial production. The scale, quantities, and volume in industrial production can be so large, and this feels quite abstract. Craft, by comparison, feels pretty concrete and close to the body.

Does craft matter?

Craft matters. We think it’s a really powerful thing to know you can make something, to know that that is a capacity that you have.


Patrícia Domingues

What does it feel like to work with different materials?

For the past few years we have been investigating different materials: all kinds of natural materials. The differences in origin and material qualities between the different materials is an inspiration. We study and observe of the quality and fragility of materials.

In nature there are no two which are the same. So each product becomes unique, when we use natural materials. Once the material is cut, this action is irreversible.

By contrast, the reconstructed material is a massive industrial block. In this case, the idea of uniqueness is lost, as the result is always the same. For us, reed is an object of admiration which represents the idyllic image of nature, whereas the artificial material functions as a blank sheet of paper, devoid of personality.

How did the Many series come about?

Our creative work reflects direct contact with materials and manipulating them. Most of the time, the act of making is what leads us to find new and surprising results.

What role does craft play in the age of industrial production?

As craftspersons, we feel these opposing ideas nourish each other. It is the antithesis for these two contrary ideas to make each other stronger. Before the industrial era, craft was the only natural way of making things, as today standing up for crafts has a more complex meaning. Personally we believe, it is exactly this relation that makes this field so exiting and leads us to reflect our own and collective materialism experiences.

Living in the era of the single-use objects, where people discard things easily, and the instant feed of digital images, the need for tangible and real materials arises.

Does craft matter?

Craft is more than just a way of making things; perhaps it’s a way of thinking. It questions the different processes of dealing with the material world, and it brings back a certain level of human dignity. Craft calms down our high-speed society. In a way, craft is a tool to connect the heritage of the past with our present.


Yoshiaki Kojiro

What role does craft play in the age of industrial production?

Because of industrial technology, we’re able to easily obtain homogeneous products with good design. In this way, we can easily enjoy the benefits of convenience and economy. However, we feel that we are losing our imagination and reducing sensitivity to materials. Craft can invest a context of regionalism and history to our convenience-based economy.

Does craft matter?
The mysterious charm things created through trial and error, while relying on experience and intuition, is an absolutely necessary element for our lives. Craft is an event that starts with a physical sense of relationship between materials and people. This spirit and physicality are related not only to creative activities, but also to the foundation of human activity.

Craft Matters, and always will… Help us keep the crafts alive on http://www.ziveli.in

Blog post inspired by

Diana Budds

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