The Hand and the Glove... ramblings about making.

28.09.07- Craft and the Computer

Last week was a busy one, on Monday I went down to London for the Craft Council’s ‘Craft, Creativity and the Computer Controlled Age’ event.
It was one of the many London Design Festival attractions held between 15 – 25 September. Chaired by Sir Christopher Frayling, it brought together makers involve or interested in the application of digital technology in their practices. The presentations were followed by a debate that ranged from the negative through scepticism to the enthusiastically positive.
This event linked in nicely with ‘Manufacturing Reinvented- additive manufacture and the second industrial revolution’ held at the RCA on the 25th September.
The speakers came from a spectrum of backgrounds- engineering, design, biomimetics, cultural and ‘outside the box’ in the case of Max Comfort.
As the conference chair, designer Geoff Hollington put it when talking about Rapid manufacture- ‘if this is the next industrial revolution then we are at about the year 1800 in its development’.
In many respects the technology is sophisticated, though it is still at an early stage in its evolution and has a long way to go. Technical problems will be ironed out, 3D CAD software will improve and I foresee a place for digital craft where knowledge of materials and processes can be part of the creative digital process.
There are many C21st Luddites out there who fear the death of skill, but they are wrong. CAD/CAM, rapid manufacture and the other new technologies are additions to the creative industry’s toolbox. Letterpress isn’t extinct even though it’s a far more laborious process than typography on the computer. My eldest daughter Rowan, brought letterpress and digital typography together in work for her degree and the results were stunning.
For me, the creative process is about the communication of an idea and I will choose whichever tool in the toolbox is the most appropriate for its realisation.

Last Wednesday evening we drove to London to deliver my youngest daughter Grace to Middlesex University for the start of her first term as a fashion student. Once she was unloaded and settling in I caught the tube from Oakwood to South Kensington to drop some stuff off at College then checked back in with Ray & Jeannette in Chiswick.
On Friday it was off to 100% Design at Earls Court, a busy show, the most interesting parts for me being the Lighting and Futures sections. I came across Earlsmann, producers of Light-Tape electroluminescent film, which I think looks to be the perfect light source for my cone pieces. There was also a sample of film from Elumin8 whom I must also speak to. Earlsmann produce a wide range of colours and the wiring and fitting looks really simple.

I found the most stimulating shows over in East London; Designersblock in the beautifully decrepit Nicholls & Clarke building was a treasure house of boundary-crossing creativity. I took my daughter Grace there and she also loved it Tent was a younger, livelier show than 100% Design, with a good number of last years RCA Ceramics & Glass graduates showing.

Back in College I’ve been sorting out my new space, following up some of the leads I made at the various shows and generally preparing myself for a busy term.