Cecile Poignant » The return of crafts

The return of crafts


I had been asked by DesignFax – a French online weekly letter on design strategy – on what subject I would like to be interviewed. The return of crafts is something I’m seeing more and more: some designers have been taking a more artisanal dimension, many graduated design students focused their diploma on craft and materials, I thought it could be interesting to share about this !

What are the reasons behind this return of crafts?

The main reason is the overconsumption and overfilling of soulless products with ridiculous lifespan. We must also remember that craftsmanship is very old and existed since man had the time and intelligence to do things with his hands, useful objects but also decorative ones. Design only dates back to the 20th century. Industrialization has somehow anesthetized the craft industry. The anchoring of craftsmanship is very strong. It’s still present in many countries such as Philippines, India, Morocco … and it comes back today to give meaning to the objects around us.

Pottery by Marion Graux

Is it linked to an ecological awareness? 

Yes quite. Objects with a soul are preserved longer. We have less desire to replace them just for the excitement of novelty because we cherish them. It is a more ecological approach since there is less consumption. We are going towards a new perception of time and duration, we can speak of a slow design as there is the slow food: a more local production, slower with also less transport. These handmade objects resonate with the ecological expectations of many of us.

What are the values of the crafts? 

The craft is a functional object with emotion behind it. In this surplus of products, we need to pause and find back affection for objects. We are witnessing a revaluation of traditional values. Perfect and smooth seduces less, place to irregularity, imperfections and uniqueness of objects. In a world disconnected from touch, matter is gaining importance. There is a lot of poetry in the single and simple object, which re-enchants our everyday life. We do not need to have 40 bowls, only one simple and beautiful is enough.

Wondergralss by Bouroullec

It is related to handmade? 

Absolutely. This trend is reminiscent of man’s ancestral relationship to matter. The craftsmanship skills are highlighted. The creative hobbies explode, just see the success of pottery classes, porcelain painting …. This idea of making oneself is related to the unique piece, the rarity and the need to give meaning to objects .

How do you see this trend developing itself ? 

More and more, students from design schools are interested in this subject. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in ceramics. The great chefs invite handmade pottery and ceramics to their tables instead of perfect china. The French ceramist Marion Graux makes beautiful dishes for Michelin starred restaurants. The Bouroullec brothers create melted glass vases that celebrate the irregularity. The Mexican designer Fernando Laposse works a lot with local materials including corn to imagine unique inlays.

Craftmanship by Fernando Laposse

What about the future? 

The ideal would be to merge technology and craftsmanship, to bring the hazard back into industrialization to end the perfectly compliant series. The return of craftsmanship is an emerging trend that will continue. Empreinte the concept store of crafts in Paris, values hand-made objects, often unique pieces. Some restaurants rely on mismatched dishes. Even Ikea starts mini-series. They realize that we can not overproduce. Designers are giving an important place to the hand in design, craftsmanship was somehow forgotten in the twentieth century and is back in force.


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