Why do I want to make?

23Dec09

This MA is about learning to become a designer.   The questions I’ve been asking myself is ‘why do I want to make and how does it make me feel?’.

Why do I want to make?

What I know is that I want to make things with my hands, I want to craft and that process is an important part of why I want to be a designer-maker and not a television director.  I think it’s important at this point to define what I mean by ‘craft’ or ‘make’.  To craft is the process of creating whether that involves knitting, sewing, drawing, printing. It’s about the tactile experience of engaging with materials.  It’s about entering that reflective state of quiet reverie.   

I feel that the desire to make and to craft is part of a wider concern, I feel part of a growing movement not only towards the handmade but towards a more soulful and honest design ethos. This is not necessarily a new thing, the desire to create ‘honest’ design has been with us since  William Morris formed the Arts & Crafts Movement, so why do we keep returning to it?  In order to contextualise my practice I aim to explore why people want to craft in the 21st century.  

Some of the essays in ‘Obscure Objects of Desire. Craft in the 20th century’ edited by Tanya Harrod have given voice to the reasons behind why I want to make. 

In the essay ‘Out of Touch: The Meaning of Making in the Digital Age’ Pamela Johnson asks:

“Where do we locate the handmade within what Baudrillard calls the hyper-reality of mass electronic culture?…Baudrillard theorises the handmade as the marginal or the bygone object. The handmade object, for Badurillard only has meaning as nostalgia….In any interview with a maker, there coms a point when he or she tries to articulate his or her preoccupation with the material and the processes…What is communicated is the sense of a deep affinity with the material; the need to think, to work out ideas, by making, by engagment with the material; the need to work with the material towards new forms and new visual vocabularies…..Nostalgia does not explain the curiosity amongst makers for new forms and the use of new materials, or, indeed the new uses of so-called traditional materials. I would suggest that the crafts..are made out of a sense of touch, and invite a tactile response. What is offered is a particular kind of communication for both producer and consumer, a particular kind of human curiosity that is of the present.”

I suggest also that the hand-crafted is about offering an alternative to the mass-produced.  About offering items which may be flawed, not perfect they are unique. Or as designer David Pye describs as the ‘salt and pepper, adding flavour in a world of visual standardisation.’


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