Process and the Designed Object

I’ve bee reading Risatti’s “A Theory of Craft”

Rasatti seems to have many prejudices against machine production that make me surprised that the book was published so recently (2007), just as technology is beginning to change quite drastically in favour of small production and individual foucused methods of production, and he seems to have a perspective on design that is largely influenced by a certain discomfort with the modernist mid-last-century design aesthetics (lack of focus on materiality, a fascination with industrial efficiency, etc.) This year, only five after the book was published, even Ikea, the standard on shipping and manufacturing efficiency and flat-packing, able to design and market objects that are efficient to produce and ship, but are not a cubic teapot, his equation of design to efficient shipping methods seems out of context to me.
I am in love with his statement that: “both craft and machine made objects have a social life, a social existence, if you will, in the sense that they help shape how we see and understand the world, the things in it, and out relationship to these things.” (Kindle edition, location 2029) I think that this is very true, and that the processes my which we manufacture objects are informed by and inform our ethical and social though processes in undeniable ways.
Risatti says that crafted (as opposed to designed and mechanically produced) objects encourage “us to pay careful attention to how something is made so that we come to regard what something is by how it came to be; the process becomes an essential part of the object’s identity.”(Kindle edition, location  2064.) When I interact with an object, I am generally fascinated by the processes by which it was produced, and the conditions under which they were produced. I agree with him that objects can help us to understand the process by which our society functions and they have an important social life, but I disagree that hand crafted objects have an exclusive ability to help us understand process and that manufactured objects do not have this ability.
I don’t understand how objects manufactured through methods other than directly by hand (maybe this is because I work in glass, so often cannot directly touch my medium while working with it?) somehow would be unable to communicate their provenance and processes, but that objects made by hand somehow by definition communicate the processes by which they came into being. I think that every object speaks to and communicates the process by which is was made, if you know how to look at it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *