"Both the difficulties and the possibilities of making things well apply to making human relationships. Material challenges like working with resistance or managing ambiguity are instructive in understanding the resistances people harbour to one another or the uncertain boundaries between people. I’ve stressed the positive open role routine and practicing play in the work of crafting physical things; so too do people need to practice their relations with one another, learn the skills of anticipation and revision in order to improve these relations..."
— Richard Sennett
This studio will consider the value of making – in itself, independent of the product or outcome, exploring the idea of craft as meaningful work. Art and craft will be considered not as categories of commodity or luxury objects, as a discrete set of practices or as expressive objects, but as a particular approach to making things and a kind of humanizing creative experience. Craft-making will be examined as a form of meaning-making in which meaning is understood as contingent, embodied and evolving.
Meaningful invites you think about creative work as a uniquely satisfying way of being in the world; about how our individual practices can develop and promote socially responsible maker practices? How can these singular enterprises cluster into ‘place-based’ creative maker-ecologies capable of producing value through the enhancement of community life in ways that encourage progressive circuits of engagement, production and consumption?
The studio will introduce contemporary writers who examine the nature of craft knowledge and whose ideas support an understanding of making as a human activity that is both intrinsically rewarding to the maker and outwardly directed or socially engaged, simultaneously promoting more subtle understandings of relational interdependence, empathy, equanimity, humility, and a certain generosity of spirit.
These ideas will be given a historical context in the theoretical and ideological writings of William Morris who celebrated art and craft as socially useful and individually fulfilling creative work, a politicized form of work which was proposed as part of an alternative to industrial capitalism.
Rather than seeing craft as antithetical to contemporary society, part of an escapist refusal of modern life, we will discuss ways in which maker cultures might help us to re-imagine a sustainable late Modernity.
- Adamson, Glenn (ed.), The Craft Reader (Oxford: Berg, 2010)
- Crawford, Matthew, The Case For Working With Your Hands (London: Penguin Group, 2009)
- Gauntlett, David, Making is Connecting (London: Polity Press, 2011)
- Harper, Paul, Doing and talking: the value of video interviewing for researching and theorizing craft PhD thesis (London Metropolitan University, 2013)
- Howes, Philip and Laughlin, Zoe, Material Matters: New Materials in Design (London: Black Dog, 2012)
- Johnston, Lucy, Digital Handmade: Craftsmanship and the New Industrial Revolution (London: Thames & Hudson, 2015)
- Knott, Stephen, Amateur Craft: History and Theory (London: Bloomsbury, 2015)
- Morris, William, Useful Work versus Useless Toil (London: Penguin, 2008)
- Sennett, Richard, The Craftsman (London: Allan Lane, 2008)
- Sennett, Richard, Together: the rituals, pleasures and politics of co-operation (London: Penguin, 2012)
Videos to watch
- Richard Sennett on Art and Craft (YouTube)
- Craft Work and Skill (Mp3)
- Making Futures: People, Place, Meaning – Crafting Worlds and Social Making
See also link to Making Futures 2019 journals
- Matthew Crawford (YouTube)
- Paul Harper (Vimeo)
Studio Image by Paul Harper. Banner image: Hans Op de Beeck, Staging Silence (3), video still (detail), 2019
Studio 01: Another Place
Out of a direct treatment of place, whether subjective or objective, emerges another place. It is neither new, nor fixed in time, but it has remained unexplored, scarcely documented – piles of lime and useless cicadas.
Studio 02: Feminist Approaches
The Dissertation Studio 02 seminar series will address feminist practices within architecture, history and activism.
Studio 03: Narrative and Storytelling
This studio focuses on modes of storytelling and narrative conventions. We will particularly consider how narrative intersects with, and informs, identity.
Studio 04: The Conquest of Joy
This studio encourages dialogues around the cultural production at a time when narratives founded on certainty have ceased to make sense.
Studio 05: This is my truth; show me yours: Post-truth, propaganda and bulls**t
This studio will look at the emergence of the notion of "post truth" and explore links between other ideas around propaganda and Harry Frankfurt’s argument about "bulls**t". We will consider the usefulness of these ideas, and how they can be explored in creative practice.
Studio 06: The Practice of Space – Writing Atmospheres in Art and Architecture
Nico de Oliveira
Dissertation Studio 06 looks at space as practice, since each location is a mutable entity framed as a moment in time, populated by individuals and shaped by their actions as artists, musicians, curators, designers, architects, writers and spectators.
Studio 07: Meaningful Work
This studio will consider the value of making in itself, independent of the product or outcome, exploring the idea of craft as meaningful work.
Studio 08: Speak, Form.
Dissertation Studio 8 asks: How is it that form might speak? This studio looks at the power of rhetoric, of the medium as message, of the figure as discourse.
Studio 09: Thinking with Ruins
This studio pays heed to these cultural forms and persuasions but asks, how might we productively think with ruins in the present?
Studio 10: Sport and Aesthetics
Dissertation Studio 10 will examine the concept of aesthetics as applied within that most everyday activity: sport.
Studio 11: Le Marteau Sans Maître (The Hammer without a Master)
In a networked world where knowledge and information seems to be accessible everywhere and in any form; and where people in distant places appear to speak to us in real time from our computer screens, Studio 11 tries to imagine an ‘immediate’ and performative experience of the world – outside language and not shaped by our intellect and will.
Studio 12: Material Culture and Transcultural Exchanges
Dissertation Studio 12 is concerned with the increasing complexity of the material and symbolic flows of fashion, textile, artefact and commodity.
Studio 13: B(read)
Focussing on two of life’s key ingredients, reading and bread, this Dissertation Studio offers sessions that will encourage you to experience and experiment with both.
Studio 14: Rewilding
In this Dissertation Studio, we will examine some of the many ways in which art, architecture, and design connect to the discourse on rewilding.
Studio 15: “If I stay silent nothing will change”: Identity, Politics, Social Change and Creative Culture(s)
This cross-disciplinary studio considers how power, culture, politics, identity, representation, activism, social media, and mass culture theory intersect with a range of arts practices, including photography, architecture, design and fine art, film studies, fashion and music, sound, pop art, and theatre.
Studio 16: A Material World
This Dissertation Studio will be based on the processes that are intrinsic to the design and making of textiles, however it will also be looking at the materiality of these textiles as objects.
Studio 17: Souvenir
This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past. It considers the role of memory and how it is embodied in cultural artefacts.
Studio 18: Modes of Human Exchange (Being-with and without)
This studio considers the current (exceptional) conditions of human exchange in a broader historical/social context, highlighting how facial/bodily gestures and the decorum of their physical/ambient surroundings have provided essential clues to the way we respond to, and interact with, the ‘other’.