I always struggle when I have to explain what I do…or describe who I am…in fact, I wear many hats…but the activity or title which I feel best describes me is…
Today I'm not delivering a speech, instead I would like to describe this event as more of a "conversation". My aim is not to 'lecture', but to share a few thoughts with you. A conversation which I hope is thought-provoking!
My conversation will include these three areas…when I refer to The old and the new refers to time-honoured TRADITIONS and NEW TECHNOLOGIES + PROCESSES, the way we work The analogue and the digital refers to BASIC OR TRADITIONAL WORKING METHODS and TECHNOLOGY ENHANCED WORKING METHODS and how we can and 'need' to integrate the two Maker and machine refers to THE CRAFTSMAN and THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH MACHINES, TECHNOLOGY ETC And after I share the work of a selection of artists and designers working within these territories I will conclude by introducing the concept of The Digital Artisan.
This concept proposes that makers of craft artefacts, and those operating within the handcraft realm, can engage with technology and machines in a way which complements and expands their territory, or "what they can make!" We have a complicated relationship with machines…or in simple terms we could say we a "love-hate" relationship with them…on one hand we love how they can help us an make our life more vivid, allow us engage with others globally or connect families…and on the other they frustrate us sometimes to the degree of wanting to smash them…love themor hate them, machines are everywhere!
It's fair to say that machines are ubiquitous…
Without the help of this machine my mother wouldn't be able to visit me, or indeed we couldn't hope to see such a beautiful view!
I certainly couldn't enjoy my morning coffee without this one!
Machines and technology have undoubtedly enhanced the kind of health and medical care and treatment we can receive.
Even machines and the data they produce can inspire creative applications such as this 2008 installation by Tomas Saraceno, which is an expression of computer algorithms.
. So when we think broadly about machines we also begin to factor in the issue of technology. . Nowadays, machines are synonymous with technology. .As machines have developed, they have become more and more embedded with technology and when we meet this condition people start to adjust their attitudes towards the 'machine' and how they use it. .Machines have changed their form from something very Analogue ie. basic and understandable…to something very digital ie. highly complex and high tech. .Technology is a powerful word, it's not inclusive and due to individuals' experience with technology in everyday life they tend to resist it as opposed to embracing it. .Unfortunately people can't keep up with technology and manufacturers and software.
If we look at these 2 examples my point becomes very clear, the telephone on the left is very basic, it's obvious how to use, and interestingly this kind of phone which once was the norm, is now termed as "vintage". On the other hand, the telephone on the right doesn't particularly look like a phone, it could be mistaken for a tablet PC, a remote control or even a small computer!
So if machines are synonymous with technology, then machine-made must be synonymous with "something" And I propose that the word is….
. Mass-production is a word that the craft community feel uncomfortable with, I feel uncomfortable at the thought of millions of pieces of something that I might create being distributed around the world, maybe it's snobbery or elitist for us to restrict or control the production of our creations…or maybe it's our concern about quality control and craftsmanship? . Since the introduction of machines "making things" artists, designers, creators or artisans have voiced concerns about machines taking over or replacing people, and one of the earliest and most prominent figures in history to openly criticise 'industry'and 'mass production' is of course William Morris.
. William Morris defines handcraft. . His thirst for knowledge and vast range of expertise makes him a truly inspiring modern day Digital Artisan. . He immersed himself in every project he undertook and each of his designs recognises his appreciation of the classical arts. . Morris wasn't against progress. His concerns were equally based on social criteria as much as creativity and craftsmanship. . Morris' beliefs stood for traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and often applied medieval, romantic or folk styles of decoration. It advocated economic and social reform and has been said to be essentially anti-industrial. . Arts and crafts design characteristics emphasise the qualities of the materials used ie "truth to material"
. Although many believe he was against machine manufacturing and progress he was against the Industrial Revolution as causing a division of labour, a separation between manual labour and brainwork, designer and creator. . The Industrial Revolution propelled economies world-wide, but William Morris, the father of the Arts & Crafts Movement, was keenly aware of its drawbacks— . division of labour in factory production which meant that workers performed mind-numbing, repetitive tasks their whole lives, beginning in childhood, for very low wages. . Urbanisation which meant dreadful living conditions in crowded slums. . Aesthetically, products of the Industrial Revolution were generally badly produced, cheap and unimaginative imitations of historical styles.
. Morris was not consistent in his views on industrialisation, he thought production by machinery was "altogether an evil", but when he could find manufacturers willing to work to his own exacting standards, he would use them to make his designs. . He said that, in a "true society", where neither luxuries nor cheap trash were made, machinery could be improved and used to reduce the hours of labour. . Whilst intially Morris took a very negative view of machinery, he later believed "that we must become masters of our machines" and this is the basis on which the concept of The Digital Artisam rests controlling machines and technology and yielding their potential to create artefacts of beauty.
. There is a middle ground between technology and traditional craft, that can produce exciting and original product possibilities. . There is a famous saying…Guns don’t kill, people do. I would like to modify that phrase to "Machines don't create bad artefacts, people do." . To exemplify this concept I would like kick off with the work of Luke Jerram who fuses his scultural practice with scientific and perceptual studies.
. Created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the globe. Based in the UK, Luke Jerram’s practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live arts projects. . He has sought inspiration from what the world of technology can yield. ie microscopes and viruses. . Jerram builds and manages specialist teams of engineers, craftsmen and technicians to help him realise his works. From composers to glassblowers, medieval musicologists to hot air balloonists. In this way, he says "I'm only limited by my imagination in what can be produced. Anything is possible."
Luke Jerram, Glass Microbiology . These transparent glass sculptures were created to contemplate the global impact of each disease and to consider how the artificial colouring of scientific imagery affects our understanding of phenomena. . Jerram is exploring the tension between the artworks' beauty, what they represent and their impact on humanity. . The sculptures were designed in consultation with virologists from the University of Bristol using a combination of different scientific photographs and models. . They were made in collaboration with glassblowers Kim George, Brian Jones and Norman Veitch. . The question of pseudo-colouring in biomedicine and its use for science communicative purposes, is a vast and complex subject. If some images are coloured for scientific purposes, and others altered simply for aesthetic reasons, how can a viewer tell the difference? How many people believe viruses are brightly coloured? Are there any colour conventions and what kind of ‘presence’ do pseudocoloured images have that ‘naturally’ coloured specimens don’t? See these examples of HIV imagery. How does the choiceof different colours affect their reception? . In response to these questions, Jerram has created a series of transparent, three dimensional sculptures. Photographs of these artworks are being distributed to act as alternative representations of each virus.
. SARS Corona Virus . Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a serious form of pneumonia, caused by a virus isolated in 2003. Infection with the SARS virus results in acute respiratory distress (severe breathing difficulty) and sometimes death. . It is a dramatic example ofhow quickly world travel can spread a disease. It is also an example of how quickly a networked health system can respond to an emerging threat. . This work has recently been displayed at the UN in Geneva for the Conference of Non Proliferation of Biological Weapons!
. Smallpox, Untitled Future Mutation, and HIV Jerram: "It's great to be exploring the edges of scientific understanding and visualisation of a virus. Scientists aren't able to answer many of the questions I ask them, such as how [is] the RNA exactly fitted within the Capsid? At the moment, camera technology can't answer these questions either. I'm also pushing the boundaries of glassblowing. Some of my designs simply can't be created in glass. Some are simply too fragile and gravity would cause them to collapse under their own weight. So there's a very careful balancing act that needs to take place, between exploring current scientific knowledge and the limitations of glassblowing techniques."... "What’s interesting is how the imagery of a virus, say HIV, has changed and developed as scientists’ understanding of the virus has improved, along with ways of visualising/imaging a virus has improved with finer and finer detail"
. Product designer, based in Switzerland. Kral’s approach is characterised by a preoccupation with materials and processes. . Established in 2008, Tomas Kral is a product design studio based in lausanne in switzerland. . Kral’s approach to design is characterised by a clear preoccupation for materials and processes. . In glass, cork or ceramic, tomas kral work on various projects ranging from products to lighting, furniture and accessories. . Kral often takes inspiration in the tradition and he infuses his objects with unexpected ideas, humour and freshness in order to find a new creative approaches, simple and innovative solutions he frequently observes and experiment with craftmanship and the knowledge of manufacturers. . Tomas Kral: "I observe peoples' needs and every day situations with humour and distance. I try to capture specific thinks, twist them and infuse them with poetry, to design accessible and comprehensible objects."
. Upgrade by Tomas Kral . This idea uses the traditional techniques usually used for crystal glass: cutting, engraving, gilding to "upgrade" existing industrial glass packaging like milk bottles or jars for tomato sauce. . I join together the industrial and the craft I started to apply traditionals decorations and finaly i develop my personal "upgrades" based on bottle paper labels.
Tomas Kral: Frosted
. J. & L. Lobmeyr is a glassware company from Vienna, Austria. . Founded in 1823 and is still family owned. . Through their tradition of Renewal Lobmeyr continually focuses on the contemporary interpretation of glass, they have never stopped cultivating their heritage. . The old inspires the new, traditional know-how facilitates innovation. . In 1883 Lobmeyr delivered the first electric chandelier (a worldwide sensation) to Vienna’s Imperial Palace.
. Grip, Marco Dessi for Lobmeyr. . The collection features a ring of incisions where the base and walls of each piece meet. . A special lamella cut has been developed, which should suggest a technical aesthetic and functionality. Similar to the series Adolf Loos designed for Lobmeyr, visible scratches on the glass bottom are prevented by this ornament. One of Dessi’s ideas was to show how a rather technical looking design comes to life, if it is produced by skilled craftsmen. After an apprenticeship in the technical field, Marco Dessí(born 1976 in Merano, Italy) studied industrial design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, where some of his student projects already drew international attention.
. Drinking set no.281 – “Grip” . Marco Dessi for Lobmeyr. A special lamella cut has been developed, which should suggest a technical aesthetic and functionality. . Similar to the series Adolf Loos designed for Lobmeyr, visible scratches on the glass bottom are prevented by this ornament. . 2010 the series has been expanded to 8 items. One of Dessi’s ideas was to show how a rather technical looking design comes to life, if it is produced by skilled craftsmen.
. Drinking Set no.248, Adolf Loos . Vienna-based glass and chandelier producer J. & L. lobmeyr celebrates the 80th anniversary of Austrian designer Adolf Loos's legendary no. 248 bar set. . The cylindrical glass tumbler, considered to be provocatively simple at its conception has been produced by Lobmeyr ever since. . The architect Adolf Loos was ahead of his time with this clear, uncompromising concept of form. This tumbler service is made with a so called brilliant pattern on the base. Each line is still cut by hand and carefully matt-polished. This series paved the way for modern glass design and is another Lobmeyr classic since 1931. . In May 1931, in a letter to Lobmeyr, Adolf Loos suggested to eventually replace his original geometric patterns with motifs on the base, such as 'butterflies, small animals, and the nude human form' - an unusual proposal to be made by a purist. today, 80 years later, austrian born, new york-based graphic designer stefan sagmeister has expanded this idea and included illustrations of the seven deadly sins (black) and the seven heavenly virtues (clear) on the bottom of each glass. . The images will emerge as a little surprise as you empty the glass.
. Seven Deadly Sins - Seven Heavenly Virtues' drinking glasses by Stefan Sagmeister (view from the top) . The glass shape with the heavy bottom lent itself wonderfully to display graphic icons... when you drink red wine, the images will emerge as a little surprise as you empty the glass. it is nice to be surprised by a pair of beautiful breasts.
. Fortune Water Caraffe, Mark Braun, Vienna Design Week 2010 . Berlin-based designer Mark Braun has created ‘Fortune’ which celebrates the value of the simple and the natural, like water or crafted things. . 21 pieces of a specially designed glass carafe have been engraved with the image of a specific body of water. . The carafes are to be enjoyed and employed day-to-day as an essential object, just as the water that they are designed to contain is an essential resource for daily life. . Starting from the Lobmeyr tradition of personalising glass objects with engraving or decorating them with eloquent patterns or ‘paintings’, Mark Braun has realised this series with the emphasis on water on the one hand, and glass on the other. . Using 3 different processes of engraving, archetypical water carafes especially designed for this project have been decorated with the outlines of lakes, rivers, and glaciers of this world. For Mark Braun the sum total of these makes up the symbol of the essential ‘fortune’ of everyday life. The “poetry of materials and technol- ogy-experiments” is the engine behind the continous design evolution and as a result drives design history which would be blank and just a formal discipline without the quantum leaps in materials and technologies.
. The work of Mika Aoki is breathtakingly beautiful. . She believes that: In some cases, we cannot see if window glass is there or not. Unless light shines on it, we can’t confirm the existence of it because it is transparent. But once the light shines on it, glass truly emanates a special presence. Although it is solid and hard, it is quite easy to be broken. It connotes conflicting qualities: solidity and fragility. . The interaction of light with this material reveals certain aspects of substance. We humans, with our limited imaginations and powers of recognition, call these aspects “ form” and ”color.” . For the journey I'm taking, searching for “terms” which express life itself, the interaction between life and the world around it, the network of life, and “the forms that take the shape of those terms,” I needed material of a transparent nature and at the same time, completely meaningless. I perfectly control the changing of the transparent material from solid into liquid, and again into solid, and at the same time, being controlled by this phenomenon, I converse and convey ‘time.’ Thus I encountered one material which can exist as the ‘membrane of something invisible.’
Mika Aoki “Fluctuation of Life” exhibition 2010. . Japanese artist Mika Aoki creates exquisite glass sculptures inspired by her fascination with the visible and invisible qualities of the medium. . What at first appears to be high-speed macro photographs of water droplets, turn out to be physical stationary sculptures carefully crafted from glass (and occasionally plastic). . Aoki often derives her inspiration from the forms found in microscopic life such as spores, fungi, viruses or even sperm. With a masterful command of light and glass, Aoki depicts these propagating life forms in a haunting yet beautiful fashion, which she calls “singing glass.”
Mika Aoki “Fluctuation of Life” exhibition 2010. . Microscopic life forms such as viruses, cells, sperm and spores are the main sources of inspiration for the extraordinary sculptures. . Mika's microcosmos is made of glass, spotlighting on every single detail of human composition, balancing between reality and dream, through an eternal scientific journey. . Her fragile masterpieces have been exhibited and multi-awarded around the world and we think that they may give some answers about the origins of human life, at least in our imagination.
. Kacper Hamilton is a designer specialising in creating products + experiences for high profile brands. Hamilton creates work which is experimental inviting us into a new world inspired by stories, history and rituals. . Hamilton has worked for and collaborated with brands such as Louis Vuitton, Pernod Ricard, Ballantine’s Whisky, zai & Baccarat Crystal.
Exquis, Kacper Hamilton, 2012 . A collection of crystal vases inspired by the rich history of Baccarat. . Each vase is made using unique various crystal cuts and decorative styles from centuries apart; creating highly contrasting and bold pieces. . An iPad application was first developed to create a digital Cadavre Exquis. This was used as an experimental tool to combine pieces from Baccarat’s archive.
. An iPad application was first developed to create a digital Cadavre Exquis. . This was used as an experimental tool to combine pieces from Baccarat’s archive. . Exquisite corpse, also known as exquisite cadaver or rotating corpse, is a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. . Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule or by being allowed to see the end of what the previous person contributed.
. Exquis pays homage to the great and varied history of the different decorative styles used by Baccarat crystal since their foundation in 1764. . Kacper Hamilton (British Designer) and Michal Florence Schorro (Swiss Photographer) have collaborated to create this collection of three unique vases. . Each vase is a ‘totem’, an emblem in celebration and respect to Baccarat’s ancestry. . They unite 3 very different decorative or cutting techniques for each vase, mixing 18th with early 19th and 20th centuries. "We don't often see designs that were made 100 years ago unless you visit the museum," says Hamilton. "Let's bring them back. Each vase has feet, a body and a head taken from earlier vases. They become little animals in themselves."
. Kaii Tu is a designer working across disciplines and industries, from furniture to interactive experiences, to household products you can find on supermarket shelves today. . What unites his diverse designs is a blending of analytical thinking and craft, supported by an investigation into the histories and contextual narratives behind objects and actions alike. My work investigates everyday rituals: our interaction with people and objects, the contexts behind rituals. This is my entry point for cultivating personal attachment to lasting, crafted objects in our otherwise disposable culture. I am passionate about furthering craft practice by blending it with advanced design technologies: a symbiotically potent way to create meaning in contemporary life.
Valence system . We inherit precious plates, bowls and glasses as heirlooms, and pass them on to future generations. . But what happens in today’s world where new cultures and foods renders yesterday’s servingware obsolete? . Where is the soy sauce pourer in grandmother’s china set? Valence creates a new ritual in heirlooms. . It’s a system where new typologies of objects can be created using an alphabet of simple forms – from a single mold.
. A meeting of old and new: the glass-blowing mold is crafted in cherry wood, the traditional material for glass making, and shaped with advanced computer aided design and manufacturing methods. . The mold is what you pass on. . The method of creation gets its turn in the spotlight. . You reconfigure the mold to make the object you want.
. Andromeda is one of the world’s leading brands in luxury custom, hand-made glass lighting design. . Set up in Murano in 1972, Andromeda brings a sense of modernity through its original interpretation of aesthetic concepts. . Since the 90’s, President Gianluca Vecchi starts a series of collaborations involving custom projects with some of the most influential and recognizable names in architecture design. . In 2005, Vecchi offers Andromeda’s creative direction to Artist Michela Vianello. On October 2nd of 2008. . David Chipperfield, Pierre Yves Rochon, Imaad Rahmouni, Tobia Scarpa, Norman Foster and the artist Julian Schnabel are just a few of the names Andromeda worked with over the years.
. Fluxus- an undulating canopy made of woven glass canopy is composed of over 80,000 pieces of glass which are laced onto laser-cut, metal backing. . Sponsored by Andromeda, a company that specializes in applying old-school Murano glass-blowing techniques to high-tech lighting. . A wavering, suspended Murano glass sculpture. . Vianello developed the overall shape and concept of the piece, Rashid designed the individual glass elements and the knit, in which the sculpture is constructed.
. Detail of construction and how the individual knit components are attached.
. Lifestyle store The White Gallery, Rome. . Fluxus is a fabric made from 80 000 hand-made knit glass elements which cover recurring overtones of white to black passing through three nuances of grey to transmit constant visual vibrations. . The colour moves continuously within its optical space between the sculpture and the observer . captures an ever-changing 3D effect. . It is constructed from mirrored laser cut metal tracks in which the knit elements are anchored, attached individually by means of a technical device created for Andromeda. . The overall installation covers a surface area of 60 square meters - about 6000 kg of glass steel and technology and it is lit by 5000 halogen lamps distributed across the internal surface of the wave.
A 'hands-on' human touch is the hallmark of attention-to-detail and true quality craftsmanship. Realistically, the boom in 'handmade' craft can tell us that maybe we are not all simply lazy slaves to the convenience of technology and machines. There is a middle ground between technology and traditional craft, that can produce exciting and original product possibilities. In a new era of The Digital Artisan, the digital world (technology) and traditional craft can co-exist; in fact, there is no reason why artisans (and designers) cannot embrace the latest technological advancements, to create beautifully designed artefacts facilitated by a modern process— leading to more original, (more sustainable), and more bespoke design collections. (Hand)Made By Machine: Celebrating The Digital Artisan is a philosophy and conversation, pioneered by Eleanor-Jayne Browne, to encourage a ‘handcraft-technology’ dialogue where contemporary artisans, from all disciplines, co-exist alongside the latest technological advancements, or more importantly, work collaboratively with technology to create more original, more bespoke design collections where technology interventions are natural extensions of handcraft practices. Like many designers of his generation, Fastrez is rejecting the one-size-fits-all outcome of traditional manufacturing. In his case, he is appealing to a growing taste for customisation – one that new production technologies are making ever more realisticThere's no real question of returning to a craft-based economy (or only in the darkest fantasies of a global economic meltdown). What we have here is a post-industrial nostalgia for the pre-industrial. In a culture with a surfeit of branding and cheap mass-produced goods, we romanticise the handmade because we yearn for quality, not quantity. The irony is that while western consumers aspire to craftsmanship, the majority of the world's population lives in countries that have local craftsmen but aspire to industrialised products. Mass manufacturing will be essential to lifting a billion people out of poverty, and providing basic goods that we took for granted long ago. Meanwhile, we'll be seeing more crafted industrial objects coming our way, as we lust after craftsmanship we can't afford and disdain the industrial products we can.