miltontan

Designed by Hand

In Design, Process on 2010/05/13 at 12:48 pm

“Hand-made” used to be an indication of quality workmanship.  A hand-made object was expected to be well-crafted and skillfully executed.  Except for mostly collectibles and bespoke works, it no longer is.  This is because our increasing detachment from do-it-yourself hunting and farming — first accelerated by the agricultural revolution, and then by industrialization and more recently by the information web — has been made possible by tools and processes which are superior replacements for our hands.  Nowadays who expects to buy a hand-made computer, or tennis racket?

However, despite increasing scarcity the hand-made thing will always command our attention and respect — one-off pottery, bespoke furniture, the tailored dress, a sculpture, native basket, vernacular architecture, custom jewelry, the Ikat, hand-made teddy bears, etc.  We treasure these perhaps because we are naturally nostalgic of our human capabilities; and acutely conscious of our human limitations.  More importantly, we sense that these are shaped not only by the hands, but also by the human minds that we imagine could well have been ours.  There is satisfaction in being able to dwell among ideas designed by hand.

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