Craftsmanship as an engine of innovation and cultural progress August 22 2016 1 Comment

Our good friend, Jörn gave us a wonderful book called “The Craft and the Makers.” It was one of the most inspiring reads we have come across lately. We were so thankful that wanted to share the book with you. It presents lots of interesting stories through graphics, drawings, pictures and well-written text. It explores the work of generations of people practicing a single craft and excelling at it for hundreds of years.

Moynat handmade leather goods from Paris 

They learn, practice, work, learn some more, innovate and pass on their skills and knowledge to someone else to carry on the work. The value created by these people in terms of physical objects is not merely financial. In fact, the social and cultural value of their creative process and the results of it cannot be measured in money. Tradition and knowledge combined with unique transferable skills gives these hand crafters the power to shape tradition or simply to preserve it for those to come.

 

 

We are grateful that our generation gets to live through such exciting and dynamic times like the present. Never before in history have humanity and its economies produced more stuff. People make money and have countless opportunities to spend them. Higher consumption provides incentive for business to come up with more goods and services, which in turn induces people to buy even more.

 

Tasting kit with 35 spirits from Stählemühle distillery, Germany

But we all know the downside of mass production and cheap short lasting objects born out of greed rather than necessity. More stuff usually leads to depleting natural resources, exploiting human resources, and to damaging entire ecosystems. The vicious cycle of overproduction and mindless consumption creating so much trash that pollute Earth’s soil, water and air. The quality of life on our Planet rapidly diminishes because people buy so much junk that they, essentially, do not need and throw out eventually.

 

Mast Brothers-chocolate makers

Luckily, there is a strong counter movement led by craftsman and women around the world who work by hand. They do not create that many things, but they make them well and unique. At one time, before the industrial revolution, our society depended on such people to supply them with the goods they could not produce themselves- clothes, shoes, furniture, art. There came a moment when these people could no longer compete with mass produced products because people would likely choose what is cheaper and more convenient for them rather than spend more money on hand made,“luxurious” objects.

German oak bath oil by fashion designer Frank Leder

However, consumers have began to appreciate craftsmanship again and together with the makers of everyday initiated a shift in our purchasing habit. Thanks to them Craft culture is alive and thriving.

 

Elisa Strozyk-industrial designer

For us, spending a little more money on something unique and hand-made is well worth it because it resembles a form of art, it tells the story of its maker and contains a piece of him or her in it. Craft culture changes society for the better. We do not need much stuff, only the right kind. It is our obligation as rational consumers to consider well the choices we make and how we allocate our resources. Check out etsy.com, go to farmers markets and fairs, or check the area where you live about organized craft shows and expos. Get involved. Support your local community, by buying from people who put their hearts and souls into making beautiful things for all of us to enjoy.