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The Value Of Craftsmanship

Craftsmanship: “The quality of design and work shown in something made by hand; artistry.”

Craftsmanship has been experiencing a resurgence. While the practice has always been a marker of outstanding quality, its significance in modern society has become increasingly widespread. Perhaps once associated with only high-priced, luxury products, craftsmanship is now more accessible. It’s also preferred, particularly as more people become conscious of authenticity and social responsibility. Living is about connecting with people, places, and things, and consumers are turning to emotive reasons for spending money on a product.

An appreciation for craftsmanship goes so far as using straight-edge razors over disposable, buying rustic bread from a local bakery rather than packaged from a big-box grocery store, or decorating with furniture made by a designer working out of his/her garage instead of IKEA.

Craftsmanship is so popular, Anthony Bourdain (in partnership with The Balvenie scotch brand) has a new web series, Raw Craft, in which he visits the workshops and studios of talented makers in the United States. In his words, “Craftsmanship is about doing things the old-school way, the slow way, the long way, the stupid way–the way that may not be the most profitable, commercial, or efficient.”

We broke down some of the elements of craftsmanship – each good singularly, yet great when combined.

EXPERIENCE

In most, if not all, cases, an artisan has honed their craft for years, continually improving and learning. They may have apprenticed with an expert prior to creating on their own. Or perhaps worked in a self-taught environment for a long time, failing again and again before perfection was achieved. A great amount of passion and dedication must exist. Noticing a downturn in younger artisans, British design house Mulberry launched an apprenticeship program in 2006 to preserve the future of craftsmanship.

Master to apprentice, generation after generation, every Steinway is built with experience decades in the making — by artisans who take pride and time to humanize a piano still made by hand, who strive for and achieve continuous innovation and improvement.

QUALITY

Pride and passion drive quality, not allowing for mediocrity. Every single inch of a handcrafted item is scrutinized by its maker. Every piece is intentional, there for function or style. Materials are thoughtfully selected for both durability and look. Attention to detail – be it thread colour, engravings on buttons, or type of stitch in a leather seat – will always be of utmost importance. Patience is a requisite to pursue the excellence achieved with craftsmanship. “Nothing can ever be absolutely perfect, but I would rather leave something unfinished than complete it far less than perfect,” says Danish bike builder Rasmus Gjesing.

STORY

Craftsmen and -women are natural storytellers. In creating an object with their hands, they also weave their history into it. Visit any artisan and they’ll tell you the story entwined with their product – the “why” to their passion and purpose, the reason for doing what they do, and what their product embodies. We can surround ourselves with stories every day. For example, Steinway & Sons are retelling their centuries-old story with video and visuals to appeal to more modern audiences.

As humans, we strive to attach a meaning and fulfillment to life, from travel to work to relationships. It’s only natural that we gravitate towards products that also mean something – to the person who made it and to its end user. Craftsmanship gives significance to possession.

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