When we think of ‘craft’, we imagine the handmade – objects honed with great care using tools, skills and traditions refined across time. In antithesis to this, the principle of the mass-produced is one based on speed of production, efficiency and minimal human interaction. At its best, the mass produced makes the most of technology to create high quality products that are functional, efficient, long-lasting and good value.
In our globalized culture of mass consumption, driven by constant changes of taste and technology, new products are, however, often a crude experiment and a poor relation to the craft traditions we covet. Yet, because they are cheap, we have become immune to their inadequacies. But neither of these reflects the full scope of reality and in our view there is a powerful way in which craft and industry can be combined.
From our earliest discussions, we have developed an idea we call ‘The Craft Of Industry’. We believe that designing for mass production demands a level of expertise and care that is equal to the very best examples of craft and the handmade. So often the abstract nature of modern design processes – computer-aided design, automation and multiple inputs from different parties – remove the feedback loops inherent in the craft of making by hand.
Understanding and making the most of the materials, processes and technologies at our disposal to create products that are fit for purpose, is analogous to the best example of traditional crafts. In the work of the studio, whilst the craftsperson’s hands no longer deliver the final article, knowledge, care and appropriate design decisions allow us to deliver outcomes that we believe can be as as the hand made.
Unlike the often-solitary nature of craft, mass production is always a collaborative act – a team effort that relies on the skills and knowledge of many. Making the most of these broad and eclectic skills is a fundamental part of The Craft of Industry.
Within the context of mass production and in partnership with our clients, The Craft of Industry also represents our desire to act responsibly with respect to the natural world, using materials, technologies and processes that maximise both the efficiency of the product but also its lifespan. Principles of the circular economy are embedded in our process and the conversations we have with manufacturers.
Humanity is disrespecting the world’s resources, treating them as infinite, when it has become all too apparent they are not. As such, energy and materials should be used sparingly and their productive use prolonged. Design for disassembly, design for repair, design for reuse, and design for recycling are at the forefront of our thinking.
So often, the craft traditions we celebrate are based on a resourcefulness and inventiveness because of the time taken to grow, gather or extract the raw materials from the earth. The mass produced should reflect the same principles.