REINVENTING MODERNITY THROUGH TRADITION: PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT IN TRADITIONAL CRAFTSMANSHIP

Albio Nascimento

Abstract


In modern times, where life is permanently accelerating, people loose natural sense for matter as well as their inherent awareness of the environment. Looking back in the history of products, we now acknowledge that the designed did not replace the crafted in all its sensitive and semiotic dimensions. Craft stands for authenticity, skill and tradition – things we naturally rely on – at the same time it's built on human- to-human relations. On the contrary, the industrial lacks the social engagement, the cultural recognition and the “human touch”.

There is a growing need to connect with the material world, in a more truthful and honest way - people are longing for more sensitive and down-to-earth experiences. It seems that the more virtual life gets, the more tactile we wish it to become. It is urgent to find ways to bring soul into the designed – to breathe new life into everyday things.

We should now focus on what has always been central to human development in a sustainable way, things such as folk culture, craftsmanship and rural knowledge. These comprehend methods and processes of fabrication and socializing that are embedded by a consequent acquaintance of nature which, if considered as guideline for making new things, can bring soulful value into our material world. Design takes here the roll of catalyst and innovation driver, creating new contexts and defining new development strategies.

This article reports on the design experiments going on in the Algarve (Portugal) and Catalonia (Spain) with traditional craftsmen. Workshops that team up traditional craftsmen with designers to develop new products, as well as strategies for local empowerment and social sustainability. The final goals are: the materialization of folk knowledge into new products and grassroots viability for the craftsmen activity.


Keywords


Participatory design, Craftsmanship

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