Increasingly, as contemporary designers are returning to the workshop and mucking in to make things themselves, ideas surrounding craft are radically changing. Instead of perpetuating antiquated traditions, manual skills are being revived updated and transformed with radical new technologies and forward-thinking ideas.
Denmark has an exceptionally strong tradition of the workshop. A sense of craftmanship has long been entwined with the Danish national identity. What gives the country an extra advantage, however, alongside its Nordic neighbours, is that craft and design have never been seen as distinct and separate entities. One feeds the other. For this reason mass produced design has proven able to have a personal, emotional and even bespoke appeal.
Here, it is recognized that craft can bring back physicality and texture to design, and add context and rootedness that will always enrich the results. Meanwhile new technologies, experimental ideas, and surprising material choices suggest that craftspeople are wholeheartedly embracing a new mission. If craft is the future of design, then design is also the future of craft. Together they are exploring strange new worlds. One feeds the other.
The revival of craft and craftsmanship over the past few years has been well documented across the world: craft implies an attention to detail, regardless of the cost; it implies uniqueness in a world where globalisation has rendered everything homogeneous. The prospect of an object with provenance and heritage, created by an actual person, using unique skills, is both rare and highly appealing.
But – in Denmark in particular – this isn’t just a renewed love of the homely and handmade, rather a genuine fascination with process: and what is less well documented is that those processes are getting high tech and nothing short of extraordinary. Industrial and furniture designers, with their mass-production sensibilities, inquisitive minds and fearlessness of new technology, have much to offer.
Editor at Large
Foreword for the MINDCRAFT14 catalogue.