what i learned from the arts & crafts movement

241598686_dd3ae61ab8_o.jpgphoto by 3blindmice

from my post from last week, and some really inspiring conversations since, these are some of my thoughts and a bit of rationale of the connections that’ve been flitting thru my head over the past few months…

  • people are happier when they have control over the nature and outcome of what their goals, as well as the process in which they can work. the desire to make is innate – we desire to be heard and to leave a trace of our voice, in materials, events, systems, etc, and i think we strive for integrity in our tone of voice.
  • objects/services that represent the values and integrity (or the brand, if you will) of the maker have a stronger attraction and potential for engagement.
  • objects that retain traces of those who made them speak not only of the context in which the thing was made, but also create a sort of relational continuity with the maker*. our perception of objects and their social systems is intersubjective, and the flavour added here becomes personal and human, providing space for social practice, creating narrative and future legacies.


  • embodied interaction is a different (better/more rewarding/healthier) approach to making/participating with media – using and creating with and for all of our senses rather than one or two (primarily the ‘high’ senses of sight and sound). the physical experience of doing embeds procedural knowledge in specific areas of the brain (ie – the cerebellum), creating an interconnected context of how-to and what-does-it-mean in memory. essentially it helps to anchor our memories and knowledge, and as its repeated, practice makes perfect and our capability to retain and apply knowledge increases. look to sports, music, dance, art, food, etc.
  • every great invention might transform the culture from which it emerges, with an impact both deep and broad (esp if the invention can be distributed and reproduced). but this is not necessarily a new phenomenon, at least in the way that we respond. our behaviours can be traced back, they have archetypes and predecessors that influence the nature of our experience and practice, now and in the future.
  • we are also experiencing a democratization of cultural production, so to speak, in that the power of creation and distribution is to a certain degree being taken back by mass culture. while the discussion falls within historical parameters, and new class systems are emerging with meritocracy and increasing adoption/access, i’m hopeful that those parameters will shift and change.
  • objects and materiality aren’t going anywhere. they are physical cues and codes to social memory and social practice. however they will continue to change, and the choices we make about the types of objects we make, our ethics and practices in making, our materials and their lifecycle, and our intentions in what we’re trying to communicate or achieve – we have agency over the contingencies of our practices.
  • when resistances form opposing or dialectic positions against a mainstream or predominant ideological status quo, the conversation and energies of both are sustained as greater means are used to be heard. some camps don’t seek a total rejection of common practice (ie: the use of new media/mechanized looms for commercial gain), but rather seek to appropriate/transform common practice or as a means to validate the differences in their own contextual practice.
  • given the chance, we will use whatever means necessary to ensure our survival and the survival of our ideas, competing and collaborating with varying degrees of consideration towards the impact of our actions, however moral or amoral they may be.

*this is somewhat apparent with machine made objects, but i feel like the level of abstraction and relationship to designer as systems controller in mass-production diminishes uniqueness of the conversation (insert points about economics of scarcity and value here…).

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