I recently attended a talk on Dutch Basketry hosted by the Craft Council of the Netherlands. I wanted to start delving into an indigenous Dutch technique that I can link to my own practice and context of weaving.
Throughout the talk I was introduced to three artists who work with the idea of basket making and how they have appropriated their craft to more modern ventures. José Schilder, Lex Roeleveld and Chris Kabel.
One of designer that I really resonated with was Kabel. In this blog post I will be pointing out some of the key points that he made and how I think this is relevant to my design research and practice.
Kabel is a Rotterdam based product designer who explores new ways of making. There were many points throughout his presentation where I was completely enthralled by his way of thinking about the heritage of making and protecting certain aspects of it. This is a question I often ask myself; which aspects are worth exploring and which will yield no progressive results. Kabel reframes so many aspects of his work when researching, not only taking the human perspective into account, but he looks at the materials used to the process involved with a considered and critical eye. I find this way of looking at a project very appealing and would love to connect with him and learn about his process from ideation to point-of-sale.
Skills become geneticChris Kabel
On the one had he mentioned how human the act of weaving is and how it becomes, in a way genetically coded and passed down through generations. As humans we braid our hair or twist and weave blades of grass without a second thought and most of us just know how to do it. I find this statement very engaging, as a big part of my introspective research thus far has been about dissecting my heritage and noticing the genetic predisposition I have towards ways of making.
On the other hand he mentions his interest and need as a product designer in mass production; how hand processes can be automised. This is an idea that I struggle to contextualise myself; as a designer who straddles the world of authentic hand made products and the stories that they hold, but who also understands the need to grow and evolve into a more global market place.
We see indigenous technologies everywhere in the world around us, the processes have been industrialised and modernised therefore we do not associate the modern applications with the historical significance. To my mind only removes the artisan from the process and the product and is not culturally or socially sustainable in terms of local production in more underdeveloped countries.
Why can we not flip this historical notion on its head? This train of thought pushed me towards looking at the idea of adapting modern methods into a more rural setting and how that would look. My aim is not to remove the artisan completely as would be dictated by automated mass production, but instead it is to find ways in which we can amplify their work and co-create better tools and methodologies for them to become self-sustainable.
He asked a valid question of where have the more traditional methods been replaced and why? The answer leads to consumerism.
I do not condemn any progress that has been made in the production of textiles, I do however think that we are now in a time where we need to yet again evolve and I think that looking back to the past is the best way to create for a sustainable future.
Here are some examples of his explorative work, if you want to find out more about him click here.