Cathy Stack & Assa Ashuach
Studio 6: Self-Production/Co-Design
Image Credit: Mona Tripp, Assa Ashuach
Craft practice forms the largest section of the creative arts industry and has a range of factors in its favour. It uses modern thinking and technology to build on skills, knowledge and experience tested over time, and, it speaks to deep-seated human instincts: the value of distinctiveness, a pride in quality and the worth of craft and making.
Furthermore the domestic market for low and middle-end creative products and furniture has been saturated by imports of cheap goods of reasonable quality. This would suggest that the future market for UK craft will become increasingly concentrated at the higher end, where originality and aesthetic value count for more than cost, and where skills and knowledge will triumph.
Understanding and knowledge, of materials and making techniques has always been a fundamental element of the design and making process, so too, the steady advance of digital technologies transforming the creative industries must be acknowledged. Ability in both areas is essential to today’s craft practitioners to ensure that whatever changes are coming they will be able to find ways to, re-think and re-invent their practice adapting to a changing world allowing their craft to flourish. .
This philosophy is supported by the latest research in the Creative Arts Industry which tells us that 88% of craft practitioners are sole-traders with 68% of their time spent in designing and making, and, 18% spent in marketing and selling. The individuality of the craftwork itself, from the original design and the individual making of each piece, to the typically low production numbers of individual pieces, determines the structural characteristics of the industry. This research also reveals that over half (57%) of makers use digital technology in their practice or production, and around 30% of makers sell directly to the public through their own website. These compelling statistics emphasise the significance that accomplishment in the means of production and ability with the tools of design and presentation have to today’s successful design-makers.
In this studio, you will undertake industry visits such as to the Parker Knoll factory and Consolidated Timber Holdings, and later, we plan to visit the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, to take examples of this year’s work. You will be actively encouraged to work with a variety of real-life clients such as Parker Knoll and Made.com and use the potential of 'the best 3D facilities in the UK' to begin to develop their hands on approach, learning through doing and developing an entrepreneurial strategy.
You will be supported to exhibit work within professional contexts and to work on pieces by commission showing work in relevant exhibitions and trade fairs, funded by student-led entrepreneurial activity: such as Clerkenwell Design Week, New Designers and London Design Week, where you will present yourself directly to the international design industry.
This studio will focus on developing the craft of making using traditional and modern tools of production and design. It aims to equip its graduates to succeed and flourish in this age of change.
Following the studio philosophy, we will kick-off with an intense and focused examination of the research and concept generation stages of the design process, working on a series of short design briefs. Means of articulating design ideas will be demonstrated and evaluated. At the same time, methods of advanced material and product production will be demonstrated and tried to extend abilities in realisation.
The studio will engage wholeheartedly in consideration of, and negotiation with, a user, partner or client, wherever possible using industry partners or commissions to set the boundaries of project briefs.
Students will learn how to use industry standard software to produce 2D and 3D images as well as using digital technology as a tool for modelling, making or supporting and facilitating craft based making process. We will engage with the opportunities offered in the 'In the Valley' school-wide project and find ways to collaborate with individuals, communities and businesses locally to imagine, design and produce pieces for an intended place, person or environment.
We will graduate to using and combining the skills learned in a Major Project forming the centre of a portfolio to launch a career as a designer-maker.