April 03, 2012

Thoughts on Craft and Manufacturing

This video is a nice bit of manufacturing pr0n, which shows mostly how some cufflinks are made in a pretty industrial manner with a nice automated CNC machine. However, it also shows that there's a human scale attention to detail with the quality checking of the finished items.

AliceMadeThis: Promotional Film from Brickwall Films on Vimeo.

If you head over to the website for the company that's responsible for them, you get a more craft-based feel from the copy:

"Alice Made This makes cufflinks just for you. Each collection of cufflinks is true to their production process in its form and material. Simple, honest and elegant, your cufflinks have an edition number from 1 to 1000."

So, they're using the latest (well, actually that CNC machine doesn't look all that new...) industrial processes but using them to make something where the scarcity and quality provide the value.

A thousand of something on a global, or even just a Western economies, scale still means you're unlikely to encounter someone else with the same item; yet it's more than an individual artist or craftsperson would want to make by hand.

This is the first example I've seen of this sort of hybrid approach, but maybe that's just because it's not very visible. If I'd only seen the website I'd have assumed that the manufacturing process was much more traditional and hands-on - my initial reaction to the text was that it was almost disingenuous... hiding the industrial process so as not to alienate the customer.

That might just be me, but if it is true, then surely there's scope for opening things up and showing how there's a continuum of processes from handmade, local craft all the way through to the mass-produced in sweatshops in China. Maybe then we'll see more people moving into the middle ground, like Alice Made This have, providing both increased prosperity for craftspeople and more employment in local manufacturing?


Posted by Adrian at 11:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack