thanks to the intertubes

Melissa talks design, and what is handmade? Well, she doesn’t talk, so much as quote others, to be honest…

…I’m kept informed on how ‘the design process before computers’ went about. Turns out this vid is also demonstrating the laborious hand crafting process that existed for prototyping objects before computers. The designers got to do the easy bit! (I feel for you designers too, don’t worry; hand drawing involved french curves back then, and they are definitely no fun.)

Design story: The Decanter from Landor Associates on Vimeo.

It’s hardly ancient history though; I have seen many of these processes in action by current makers. Between the ‘hero designer’ coming up with the ideas and the consumer-tested, final-approved product, the middle part of the process still comes down to some nerds in dust coats in a shed, making objects with stuff.

And a related discussion – what actually constitutes hand-made – has been kicked off in the Etsy forums apparently (I read about it via the Ponoko blog wrapup.) It’s an interesting question, and pertinent to my work. I use laser fabrication some of the time, and even when I’m not using it, my works are still misrepresented as being laser-cut. That makes me think that people don’t really know the capability of the human hand, nor the full capabilities of computer driven manufacture.

Being accused of laser cutting, by even fellow professionals, has happened in such a manner as to make me think that laser cutting a Bad Thing. Is it? I have never really thought so. And given I piece together all the laser-cut bits by hand, can I still call the result hand-made?

I take the position that my responsibility is to my ideas, and not to a particular manufacturing process. So is it not in my interest to get as many of them out there as I would like to, in whatever way I choose? Do I then have to throw away the hand-made tag? Do I educate people on what is and is not hand-cut? Does that make me look like a fence-sitter, someone who just can’t decide if she’s a purist or a futurist?

Hmm, as usual, more discussion required.

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