Made by Hand

9 March 2018

March is national craft month so we have been inspired to think a bit more deeply about our love of craft and things where you can feel that they are made by hand.
There are two scales of craft in our work: big, the physical things we make as final outputs for projects and small, the work we use along the way to engage people in conversations. We are as interested in the way spaces are used once a project is finished as we are in the physical design of the spaces we help design and there is something incredibly powerful about using craft and making as a mechanism to bring people together to talk and socialise in a space.

Big Scale Crafting
We work with lots of individual fabricators and we enjoy the impact of adding something special and bespoke to something that might normally be very ordinary and goes unnoticed. It brings joy, and blimey don’t we all need a sprinkle of joy in our built environment every now and then.
We are not wedded to a particular style or material palette so we get to meet new niche makers and fabricators as we explore projects together. Over the past year we have worked with metal cutters, shop fitters, sign writers, wood turners to create work with real craft-personship.
Personally, I think a lot about barn raising, the collective action of a community to achieve something tangible is a wonderfully romantic notion. Now our projects don’t involve barns (not that we wouldn’t leap at the chance) but we do take the spirit of this idea and think about things that can be collectively made, animated, influenced and assembled in all of our projects so that craft is something that is a thread throughout.
Some of the best moments at work are when we get to stand back at the end, with the people who helped us make the artwork, co-designed the project, or participated regularly in shaping and influencing the work and say ‘hurrah, look what we made’ It feels great, and that is what we mean by made by hand; projects where you can see the human touch.

Small Scale Craft
We love a stealthy craft activity; the type of thing that gives people permission to be in a space, to talk to us, talk to their neighbours and builds relationships. Often it engages people who would not normally participate, who are uncomftable in a meeting an exhibition or the standard fodder of community engagement but will come to something which feels more more immediately enjoyable.
This can mean taking a craft approach to explaining concepts and design ideas; bringing people together to talk about how community spaces can be used; customising meanwhile spaces collaboratively; allowing a community to share skills be leading and running craft sessions for each other and much more.
Craft allows us to talk about our own individual experience but also to create a representation of our collective experience which can then be transformed into something at a bigger scale that permanently engrains that sense of ‘we made this’ which I love so much and so in fact these two scales can be perfectly linked.

A world of crafters
Scratch the surface and almost everybody has a craft that enthuses them, because really there is craft in everything where people pour their passion and love in. It could be bread making, gardening, textiles, metalwork, print making and the list is endless but we find that when we explore people’s craft interest, that’s when we really start to understand how we can develop a project that resonates with people.