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The objects we choose to surround ourselves with have more functions than just emphasiing the status of their user. They allow us to express ourselves or make foreign places seem more familiar. Also the quite primal satisfaction of owning what one's consider "pretty" cannot be ignored (and I know how inconvenient that word for designers is).

 

HEART REASONING

Emotions come into play when we have this - sometimes exclusive - opportunity to surround ourselves with carefully selected items. Let's face it, we buy with emotions, and the budget is an uncomfortable restriction - bland and mundane, but with an impact so significant that it can shape the market reality. Those feelings for the inanimate can be categorised in many ways, but for today I propose an axis extending between familiarity and the foreign.

For example, there are antiques and novelties, old craftsmanship recognised at first glance, and modern technologies. However, the largest groups are those related to individual life experiences - there are objects familiar to us and ones that have the opportunity to do so. But how do we recognise "our" items among hundreds of similar ones? Such a distinction becomes a challenging task when we are bounded by the effects of mass production, where repeatability and excellence in manufacturing are the basic requirements.

 

FAMILIAR IMPERFECTION

In such a situation, imperfections come to the rescue when identical and flawless objects surround us. Quoting this article, they can be divided into the following groups: defects can result from the characteristics of the material, they can be related to the workmanship (be a side effect of production or a craftsman's decision) or result from the life cycle of the item.

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Among the niche of small brands, there are many references to traditional production methods and pursuits to emphasize the importance of imperfections or randomness. Imperfection is often the signature/characteristics left by the maker and material on the created object. Whether it's furniture or ceramics, items that come from workshops/manufacturers often have a unique value to their owners simply because they are unrepeatable in some small way.

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We're already used to some scars on the items we use - most of us may not be able to recognise the parting lines or injection points, but we've been looking at them for years, thanks to objects made of plastic. However, these marks of mass production left on a single piece are rarely acceptable because they are a flaw in what's supposed to be perfect due to the limitation of the human factor in the production process. Different rules apply when dealing with natural materials and more traditional crafts. We admire the fingerprints and tool's markings on handcrafted ceramics, accept the craftsman's decisions to leave wood knots in the table, and do not undermine the choice of porous, patchy materials. Such a taste for imperfect makes us open to unique objects that become familiar much faster.

 

BETWEEN CRAFTSMANSHIP AND MODERN TECHNOLOGY

It's hard for me to hide - the romantic visions of shady carpentry workshops, where matter is shaped only with a chisel and a Japanese saw - do appeal to me. Nevertheless, contemporary craftsmanship is a much more diverse field, drawing equally from tradition and modern technologies.
We could, of course, join the humanistic polemic around the question of whether a unique piece of furniture made with a CNC machine is a work of craftsmanship, but let me quote a definition that, in my opinion, very accurately describes the idea behind this phenomenon - "craftsmanship is how much attention, and intention, and love you can put into an object." The rest are just the tools of the creators.

For many recipients, the transition between handcraft and so-called high-tech seems to be reducible to zeros and ones - we have either kitchen utensils made of wood in a traditional countryside workshop or smartphones. It's a way of looking at the world, but you will get rid of all the beautiful grayscales if you follow such a narrative.

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We can begin the review of this spectrum from the craft understood in a "classical" way. Let's take pottery as an example - usually, the quality results from traditional material and skillful work of a craftsman or a craftswoman. Despite thousands of years of tradition and a whole universe of techniques from various regions of the world, human creativity contributed something new to this field in the last few decades.

By using 3D printing techniques, makers such as UAU and Olivier Van Herpt create new, previously unknown structures. But thanks to the usage of natural materials they look pretty familiar at the same time. We can see the individual layers that form the vessel and as a result we can trace the movement of the machine that a human intended.

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Slowly, machine traces cease to be a side effect of the pursuit of perfection and become another language used by designers to emphasise the origin of the designed object. The brand called BRAGI_EYEWEAR has been manufacturing frames for glasses in SLA technology for several years now. The thin layers visible on their surface are decorations, not a defect. Studio Yonoh uses a similar scenario - home items of their making have a pleasantly rough surface thanks to the SLS printing technique. It is a designed feature, not a compromise. By analysing trends, we can expect the emergence of new production strategies such as mass customisation. Its natural consequence will be a more significant presence of 3D printing as a tool in creating commercially viable products.

Many designers have enjoyed working with 3D printing over the years. From my perspective, I would like to add that looking at the layering of printing can be simply rewarding. It represents the journey from nothingness into something, evoking new emotions through technological advancements and progress as a civilisation in an unforced way.

 

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Anita Rogoża
Designer and Constructor

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