‘Next Stages in Automated Craft: The Integration of Rapid Manufacturing Technologies into Craft and DIY Applications’ is the title of a paper I co-wrote with Ben Hughes following his invitation to me to teach on a module of the MA Industrial Design course at Central St Martins. It was presented at the IDSA’s 2010 conference titled DIY Design: Threat or Opportunity. You can download the full paper by following the link on the right to my Papers and Presentations. This post draws quite a lot from that paper, and follows on from my previous post looking at digital craftsmanship.
Defining ‘Craft’ is no easy task, a fact demonstrated by the Crafts Council’s [pdf] listing of not one but six different interpretations. In The Persistence of Craft Paul Greenhalgh warns that “craft has changed its meaning fundamentally at least three times in the last two centuries, and it means fundamentally different things from nation to nation even in the Western world.” Given the difficulty of arriving at an agreed upon definition, it is perhaps more fruitful to examine some of the underlying characteristics of ‘Craft’. In order to understand these characteristics, and to determine whether their differences to those of ‘Design’ remain relevant to today’s practitioners, it’s necessary to look at the historical basis of the divide between the two disciplines.