Has what’s old become new again?

27th March 2019

Has what’s old become new again?

Humans in every part of the world have a rich history of craftsmanship. Carpentry, dressmaking, pottery, cheesemaking, winemaking, clockmaking, glass blowing, weaving and the list could go on – we’ve done it all. But unfortunately, post Industrial Revolution this all changed. The shift to powered, special-purpose machinery and factories meant that products could be mass produced, it was faster and cheaper and meant that making things moved outside of the home. Sure, the economy got a massive boost and technology was allowed to flourish, but in a lot of ways people lost touch with craft.

However, things seem to be changing again. Craft is back on the rise. Before technology we relied on creative solutions to solve problems or advance our societies and the urge to create is in all of us, not just the ‘hipsters’ taking photos on a Leica M7 film camera. Think about hobbies, a lot of the time when we do something for ourselves it’s something creative – so why not do it for a job? And there has been a huge movement towards the artisanal with hobbyists, classes and small businesses becoming more and more prevalent in everything from pottery to carpentry. The perfect example of this is coffee culture, with great specialty coffee almost being the minimum standard to running a successful café. And why are things changing? Why does everyone seem to be a coffee connoisseur?

First of all, doing craft lowers anxiety and depression levels, relieves stress and heightens levels of fulfilment – so there’s a big drawcard there. But there has to be something more than that to create such a shift from hobby to career. For us at Nick Did This, we think it might be a reaction to the industrial and technological age. Technology is no longer exciting, or not in the way it once was. In fact, looking at the rising backlash against Facebook and fears around privacy, technology can actually seem pretty terrifying. Not to mention the fact that over-reliance on technology can lead us to missing real, tangible connections.

It’s a phenomenon that has even had academic books written about it. In sociologist Richard Ocejo’s ‘Masters of Craft’ he puts the rise of ‘old’ jobs becoming cool down to authenticity. It’s a response to the obscure nature of a lot of white-collar work – artisan jobs just seem a lot more solid and ‘real’. They feel like they matter. Craft-based jobs use both the body and the mind, they let you gain a specialised knowledge in something, but they also give you a tangible end product. These kinds of jobs also involve sharing knowledge and a sense of being a cultural gatekeeper for society. Craft is a passion for knowledge for its own sake, and it’s catching on because people want what’s cool, so if the cultural gatekeepers are doing it, mainstream society is sure to follow.

So, perhaps it’s a little bit of both – that society is bored/scared of technology and that people are bored of white-collar work. As people who’ve always valued craft, we’re just happy that it is on the rise again. Because we not only value craft as a hobby, but also as an integral part of how we work. From doing the simplest mock-up to creating a bespoke wedding invitation – we’re all about the craft. It’s what makes everything we do unique, and to be honest we love it. We love art and design, so much so that if it wasn’t our job we’d probably be doing it anyway. Craft shows skill, passion and care for what you’re doing, and that’s what we’re all about.