Handmade: a trend from the heart
Claire Parker, Creative Director at our office in Amsterdam, was asked by Dutch magazine Fonk to give her view on trends in design. Here’s the full piece – written by Claire, about paint, sew, glitter and much more!
As a kid, I used to make everything. Paint, sew, glitter and glue, paper maché, if it was in a book and involved a bit of mess and being creative, I’d have a go. Not all were successes mind, often due to the fact that I can be impatient and waiting for things to dry was never a strong point of mine. But, craft I did, although I never really thought about it in that way, I wholeheartedly believe it most definitely set me off in the direction of my career in design. All through college we cut and stuck meticulously crafted mock ups of books and packs, creating with our hands the visions and designs in our heads, we created objects from scratch.
As I’ve got older, and my career has progressed and modern life gets in the way, a phenomenon I’m not alone in experiencing, making stuff still feels great. The pride of seeing your creation come forth… or the dry bemusement as it all crumbles and falls, connects me to something more, something older.
A return to older values – or just the desire to connect ourselves to something real, tangible – not technology – is something that is creeping back into the general conscious. Handmade, is the new trend that I’m most excited about, and one that I hope is here to stay. In its rawest form, it reminds us that we are all inherently makers, we all have hands which can craft wonderful things.
Handmade clothes have always been a desired premium, but coming through is a democratised notion of handmade, small labels. Businesses are valued in whole new ways for their limited batches, smaller ranges, one-offs and the personal touch. But it’s not just clothes, it’s in the resurgence of limited-run underground publications or ‘zines’, artisan bakeries and a new found enthusiasm for home-cooking and baking as an almost art form. Even supermarket ready meals are developing to encompass a handcrafted element, as pre-prepared meals come in handily labeled step by step components, enabling us to reconnect with our food and feel like we are cooking – crafting.
The culture of commercialism, where everything has to be new, the latest – the same culture that caused the financial crisis – has perhaps given way to a world where people are tired of living in identikit prefab homes. In this world, the old bedside table that wobbles and has a dent in, has a new cache, hand crafted it was cared about, it has a story, it’s part of you and you part of its story.
Stories, and this human connection, are things both increasingly lacking from modern life, where technology slowly erodes at human interaction but also enabled through the advent of social media. The internet, has connected a whole range of have-a-go-at-home crafting heroes, who’ve founded ties internationally with like-minded people to form online tribes and communities based around this common love. It’s people acting on this part nostalgia influenced feeling that is helping handmade become a fast growing trend.
The banding together of fellow crafters is seeing handmade come into a renaissance, brought about by the people, for the people. Etsy.com, a popular and groundbreaking website brings people together and offers them a platform to not only display their crafting abilities, but sell them and turn them into a profitable hobby. While not everyone may focus on crafting as a profitable sideline, people are brought together in many different ways, from the countless craft, baking and do-it-yourself blogs and websites popping up all over the internet, real life groups are forming too. The irreverently named Stitch & Bitch group in London, started as an online forum for young urbanites who were interested in taking up knitting, previously the lone hobby of retired grandmothers, and grew into a raucous get together that’s spawned other groups, where people not only share their skills and knowledge but use it as a common ground to forge new relationships.
These new relationships and incarnations of old hobbies are part of a growing trend for tangible experiences that people crave for. In an overly homogenised world, something that’s fleeting, transient has new depth, adding to the enjoyment of it for that moment. It’s in this vein that pop-up shops have reached a zenith, celebrating the limited, small nature, the specialness of that moment. Large brands too have been able to embrace this aspect of the handmade trend, with pop-up shops being perfect to showcase their limited edition ranges or to provide a tangible experience that benefits the consumers hands on experience and relationship with the brand. Hands on experiences are ever important for brands, first and foremost the packaging as the embodiment of your brand that is invited into your consumers home; design can help you fit in there and keep your space.
Just like the aforementioned wobbly bedside table being valued for its imperfections, handmade celebrates the imperfect for its realness, it was created with love and thought by people, not machines. But machinery’s involvement isn’t an immediate disqualification for this trend, a computer is operated by a person, one of the new-breed of independent ebook authors self-publishing online, or in my job, the talented creatives harnessing technology to brand hand-made design to packaging design, with just as much love and care. After all, machinery gave the cupcake craze, a lovechild of the handmade revolution, it’s newest innovation. Cult L.A bakery, Sprinkles, has developed the world’s first vending machines that 24 hours a day, serves cupcakes from its ‘cakehole’s in the wall’ in London and Beverly Hills. While this may sound the very opposite of the handmade trend, the cupcakes themselves are made fresh every few hours by people, each one is even iced by hand. Just as computers have enabled advances in design technology, now it brings a new, hands on experience, mixing nostalgia for childhood baked goods with modern technology.
This handmade approach to design, must be crafted honestly, true to the brand and its consumers, poorly executed designs would lack the emotional depth that makes this hand-made trend so great for businesses and brands. It provides a golden opportunity to develop genuine affection and brand loyalty by involving your consumer in the story of your brand, fulfilling them emotionally as they see themselves reflected in the ideologies, personality and design of your brand. At the pinnacle of packaging design and brand strategy, they can work together to emotionally intertwine brands and their consumers to near inseparable points, Brits and their Twinings Tea, Dutch and Venz hagelslag or Calvé Pindakaas. Hand-crafted is a trend that I really hope is here to stay, it gives so much opportunity, not just for beautiful design, but an opportunity to really mean something to consumers and be part of something that I, personally, think is timeless.
In: Art, News, Viewpoints · Tags: Craft, Hand made, Nostalgia, Trends