Studio 14: A Perspective on Craft

Studio brief

Historically, craft has been associated with the head, heart and hand, and since the late nineteenth century this definition has been a source of constant thought, dispute and discussion as the putting out system and the emergence of the factory age became full blown industrialisation. The debate on the Nature of Craft and Craftsmanship have both been the titles of books on this subject and have helped to redefine our modern concern with this term and subject. So this dissertation studio uses these texts as the bases of our understanding of craft today and how we can either reflect and reconsider the past or examine contemporary work and how we choose to look and interpret design today.

Such authors and works may also give us an insight into perhaps what we have lost or losing. Can the process of using the past, parts of the past, a narrative from the past help to create the future. If so can that be regarded as ‘Craftsmanship’ or does that help create a new re-definition of this term yet again?

Summer preparation:

How does John Ruskin define 'Craftsmanship' in his ‘The Stones of Venice’. Try to interpret his language to see if it is still relevant today. All the authors in the bibliography try to define or re-define ‘craft’ and how mechanisation and technology change this words meaning. Do you think Craftsmanship is about technique, technology or mechanisation … or is it personal.

Outline the first seven weeks of study

  • Week 1: Introduction
  • Week 2: Ruskin and Viollet Le Duc
    Group Seminar on readings.
  • Week 3: Visit
  • Week 4: David Pye, The Nature of Craft in the 70s
    Group Seminar on readings.
  • Week 5: Visit
  • Week 6: Craftsmanship Today
    Group Seminar on readings.
  • Week 7: Group Tutorial on Dissertation topic and title

Reading list

  1. Pye, David, The Nature and Art of Workmanship, 1968, Cambridge
  2. Sennett, Richard, Craftsmanship, 2009, Penquin
  3. Ruskin, John, The Stones of Venice, Chapter The Nature of Gothic, Vol II 1851
  4. Adamson, G., Thinking through Craft, 2007, Bloomsbury Academic
  5. Ed. Adamson, G.,The Craft Reader, 2010, Berg
An eighteenth century Windsor bench from the 1770s, on a piazza in Jamaica.


Tutor John Cross

Tutor Biography


Cass Studios archive by year