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Why craft matters

Posted by Bath Bespoke on 27 April 2019

Traditional craftsmanship is at the heart of our business but does craft still have a role to play in our contemporary sense of identity, culture and society?

The phrases ‘craft’ and ‘craftsmanship’ are thrown about with abandon in today’s increasingly digital age, often as part of the antidote to the smooth, impersonal interactions with screens we encounter on an hourly basis. They evoke ideas of reassuring familiarity, a warmth found in natural materials worked by hand, carefully considered design and good old-fashioned hard graft.

Bath Bespoke workshop | making a wooden sash window

We are surrounded by the idea of craft on a multitude of levels from decorative arts and hobbies at home, to luxury brands, fashion and food (craft beer anyone?) which positions it as a notion in demand.

So, craft can make its presence felt in a diverse set of ways but why does it matter? What does it mean to us today?

It resonates as something of meaning; an ideal that could provide the basis for a more sustainable and happier way of life. This is because there is a commonality at its heart – the approach as opposed to the outcome. An understanding of the nuances of a material and how to get the best from it. An investment of time and development of knowledge and experience is imbued within the concept of craft. And it’s that elusive element we connect with and appreciate – the care, time and skill endowed in the end result.

Craft can teach us, and future generations, important lessons for life – resourcefulness, respect, pride and resilience.

The pioneers of the 19th century Arts and Crafts movement believed so. They took a stand against the dehumanisation of workers and believed that working collectively, taking pride in the handmade and a return to nature would enhance the lives of many. And perhaps we’re still listening. It’s an approach that is gaining momentum in the twenty-first century – Harewood House in Yorkshire hosts Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters curated by Design Critic and Writer, Hugo Macdonald until September 2019, Hauser & Wirth in Somerset introduced Make “a destination for contemporary making and the crafted object” in September 2018 and London Craft Week in May “a magical combination of imagination, individuality, passion and skill found in the best-made of things” gathers pace year on year.

Traditional carpentry and craftsmanship has certainly been at the heart of our business since we set out a decade ago and we take great pride in each and every element of our field of craft; we have long championed the importance of a sustainable approach to business and for us, craft will always matter. It defines a collaborative way of working and contributing positively to our immediate community and as such, society at large. As our apprentices rise through the ranks to develop skills and experience that will last a lifetime by garnering knowledge from our experienced team of craftsmen, we can attest firsthand to the significance of craft.

While we witness the digital age gathering pace and look artificial intelligence straight in the eye, the resurgence of craft becomes a reassuring blast from the past as well as a potentially powerful human approach with the ability to help mould (some might even say rescue) our increasingly uncertain future.