The handmade tales
28 Mar, 2018
These days, we are witnessing the return of handmade projects. But far from grandma’s knitted sweater, craftsmanship is modernizing and faces more current problems. So… Handmade 2.0?
In response to the digital, to the uniformity and acceleration of our lifestyles, new trends have developed in favor of crafts and experiential. Handmade products attract more and more people, and touch diverse areas, including fashion, interior design, everyday life, etc. But are craftsmanship and new technologies really opposed to each other?
Craftsmanship is a debatable term, especially in our time, when machines do much of the work that used to be done by craftsmen. Most of the time we get that image of totally handmade art objects, based on traditions, created thanks to a long and tedious manual know-how as well as the use of noble and quality materials.
We tend, among other things, to imagine the craftsman in his workshop, spending countless hours working meticulously on each of his creations.
But where do the more recent techniques stand?
Digital manufacturing techniques such as modelling or 3D printing offer new possibilities for craftsmen and hand-made enthusiasts.
For example, 3D printing makes it possible to create objects by depositing a material defined layer by layer.
This makes it possible to avoid traditional techniques of creation, such as sculpture, pottery, etc. It is then possible to create, using only imagination and creativity, and this without the brake of know-how and a consequent learning time.
Certain 3D printing processes are now relatively affordable, and are used by artists who work on unique pieces. Technology should not only be associated with the mass industry. The use of new technologies makes it possible to enrich a traditional craft, rather than replace it.
It can be used intelligently to facilitate the creator’s task: saving his time on production and thus leaving him more time for design, allowing him to make previews and to help his customers to project themselves, or help him to sell his creations.
New selling channels.
These days, people generally pay more attention to how they spend their money. They will be more inclined to invest it in unique, personalized, quality and durable objects rather than for objects without souls and made in mass.
Since 2005, Etsy has revolutionized online craft sales and still dominates the market today. In late 2017, merchandise sales exploded to record highs and exceeded $1 billion.
Faced with demand, Amazon also created its own craft sales platform in 2015 to compete with Etsy: Amazon Handmade.
Although they also have their disadvantages, these new channels facilitate craft sales for both old and new craftsmen by offering them a dedicated sales platform and therefore a certain visibility. Anyone can join and sell, from the pearl necklace to the carved wardrobe, or even delicate lingerie. The craftsman can then devote himself to the creation rather than the sale or communication of his works.
Blossom, when handmade meets technology
Blossom is a small domestic robot resulting from the collaboration between Cornell and Google ZOO. Although his colleagues have a look somewhat similar to each other (flawless appearance, white and shiny plastic, rounded lines, presence of screens etc.), he stands out from his classmates by his unique appearance.
Its external design is indeed handmade from natural materials such as wood or wool, cotton, etc., designed to improve tactile contact and interaction.
By mixing technology and traditional techniques such as knitting/hooking/sewing and woodworking, we obtain an organic, warm and personal look. Far from the current trends in robotics, colder and flawless.
Very Do It Yourself oriented, the robot leaves it up to the consumer to make its external dressing, making it both customizable and personifying. The buyer can create the design of his own robot, or even offer it to a loved one for a personalized gift.
The hand-craft comes here to enrich the raw technology of the robot and helps to create an experience, a particular relationship with him. This gives the object its own identity.
Whether technology enriches the hand-made or vice versa, the two worlds have much to contribute to each other. With the rise of new technologies and digitalization, the roads of these worlds may in the future no longer be parallel to those of crafts but will tend to intertwine.