Literate Web Design + Development Santa Barbara

The Renaissance of Craft

The Renaissance of Craft

on Dec 18, 2009 in Notebook | 1 comment

It is refreshing to witness the return of craft in many forms in the current design world. Letterpress, weaving, small press publishing, and even the appearance of a book like Handcrafted CSS by Dan Cederholm mark a shift in perspective within our digitally-saturated culture.

These perspectives and enterprises are beginning to accumulate and spread. It would be easy to see this as a revival, but it is more like a renaissance. It would also be easy to see it as a response to the overwhelm of the digital universe that we have collectively created over the last decade, not least in the realm of blogs and social media – and this perspective would not be wrong.

But it is not necessarily a luddite reaction – the word response is more neutral, more open and better reflects some deeper ideas and needs that are worth investigating, along the thread of craft, bricolage and tactility. We would like to make this investigation inclusive of digital media rather than exclusive, as it points to a new plateau of creativity that does not exclude technical innovation in the least.

Rather, we are witness to an enthusiasm that spans disciplines and at times makes of hobbies a full-time engagement on the part of individuals. Etsy stores, CafĂ© Press and even the collective construction of Wikipedia could be seen as examples. The dysfunction of the corporate model of brick and mortor store replication and community invasion would be another area to pay attention to – for in the wake of closures of retail outlets, new spaces are appearing for local arts, crafts, markets, farmers’ markets, music and more.

This is, to our mind, part of the new world that bears nothing in common with the doom and gloom of the surrounding chaos; it has been prefigured in many films, fictions and personal wishes. When we see a blade of grass rising out of a tear in the concrete, we are seeing a phenomenon that has much in common with the renaissance of craft among today’s creative makers and bricoleurs.