Handcraft + Mass Production = Design in the 21st century?

I read an article recently about the inaugural event Homo Faber (“Made by Man”) held in Venice this year, and the end of the article sums up nicely what I try to do with The Rain in Spain.

It reads:

“What would be more interesting to see is the possibility of a consensus, a meeting point between handmade quality and affordability, so that these artisans can feel less threatened by the necessary market of mass-produced products. People who want a well-made personal pen or saddle can have, perhaps, a personalized craftsman and modern digital manufacturing tools at their disposal, both complementary instead of in competition, so as to bring the price down to where it can be more affordable, and make it a win for all.”

Montblanc pen being hand assembled
Photo from Homo Faber website

To give some context, the biennale’s objective is to support and celebrate master artisans, and to showcase handcrafted objects of true excellence. At this inaugural event, some of the exhibitors included high-end luxury brands such as Hermes and Mont Blanc, and the article pointed out that while it is inspirational to see beautiful items crafted by hand with such care and attention, the truth is that most of us aren’t able to afford the price tags attached to such objets d’art. So wouldn’t it be nice if we could find some middle ground?

A lot of people ask me whether I make our pots from scratch. Aside from some little pinch pots which I do sculpt out of clay from scratch, the rest are sourced as ready made terracotta pots. I then design, paint and seal them to become the products that you see for sale. This means there’s no easy ‘label’ for the work I do – it’s not 100% handmade, yet there is definitely that handcraft element which gives the product its added value. At the end of the day, the differentiating factor of The Rain in Spain pots isn’t the shape or form of the pots. Rather, it is the painted finish that makes them different and unique which aligns with our philosophy of creating delight every day. An ordinary brown pot probably wouldn’t stir much emotion from you, but would some funny looking flamingos painted on it elicit a smile? I hope so.

Flamingos, Lovebirds, Giraffes Pots

In this day and age, I think mass production fills an essential need in supplying functional goods that we don’t want to fork out an arm and a leg for. At the same time, handcraft plays an important role in self-expression and the preservation of individual identity, which is really what being human is very much about. It’s a great feeling when our thought process can go beyond “I need that thing”, to “I want that thing because it says something about me / my values / my beliefs / my interests” – and I can afford it.

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