THE RISE OF THE NEO MAKER CULTURE
There is no doubt that the artisanal, handmade lifestyle is having a ‘moment’ right now, crossing into the global mainstream as it does. In today’s fast-paced, throwaway society, people are re-evaluating what is most important in their lives and demanding greater authenticity, provenance, responsibility and sustainability
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING NOW?
- A demand for something of real physical substance and value in the face of digital.
- A need to feel reassured that we’re spending our money wisely on things that are well made and will last.
THE DANGER OF ‘FALSE AUTHENTICITY’
- Brands now want to portray themselves as part of a craft movement even when they don’t have the heritage to back it up. (Overuse/dilution of terms like ‘artisan’ ‘authentic’ ‘handmade’.
- Established brands could undercut the genuine craftsmen and makers, introducing cheaper, inferior products.
The challenge is in translating an openness and receptiveness in the consumer into a real commitment: and that means explaining to them the true value to be found in crafted goods.
POSITIVE SIGNS OF CHANGE
- On the plus side: if big brands are seeing a demand to be acted upon, then it bodes well about the audience for well-crafted goods as a whole.
- Basic economic advantage of investing in fewer, better made products.
- People are beginning to take a more holistic view of how they consume products. (eg: provenance in food sector)
THE WAY FORWARD
- A marriage of traditional craft with modern innovation
- Rooted in authenticity, dedication and real substance. At the heart of it, as Sutcliffe explains, is one core principle: “Being a craftsman is essentially about caring.”
It is that deep-rooted care, applied at every level, that makes the real difference; and that is where the value lies. Real craft is created through dedication.
AN EXPORTABLE ASSET
- The Craft Council’s Business Plan 2012-15 notes the “latent export potential given the growing interest in the purchase of high quality craft in emerging markets including China and the UAE”. (http://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/)
- Major brands are “keen to position their products as acceptable luxuries in a climate of austerity”.
- The craft sector produces a combined turnover of £339m per annum and GVA of £170m per annum
- A perfect storm of “economic downturn, digitisation, and increasing responsiveness to concerns about environmental sustainability and social equity” is building momentum.
Coakley: there will always be a demand for well made craft products by designer-makers such as those he sells because, “When it comes down to it, people want to eat at a table or sit down on a chair.”