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Council, Folly Cove Designers, and other American crafts-focused
collectives began forming all across the U.S.
It was a fruitful period of recalibration with the analog, the natural
world, and art in a new day and age in which those worlds seemed (and
maybe were) under threat.
And so the cycle continues. Now is a new day and age, and it’s no
secret or understatement that the Digital Revolution is in full, powerful
swing. In all of its ability to diversify and connect disparate communities and
ideas, there’s a technological sleight of hand clandestinely curating our lives.
Hopes for net neutrality are now wistful, naïve remnants of the internet’s
halcyon days. It is an era of ever-increasing homogeneity.
True to the cyclical ways of industry, people are feistily kicking
back against this digitalization. We’re seeing a restored appreciation
for the handmade and for the tactile experience of creating.
This is the ethos of the maker movement.
The maker movement is a wide-sweeping cultural shift in the ways
we produce and it’s ultimately counterintuitive to digitization. It’s a
revitalization of the notion of micro-manufacturing or highly skilled
manufacturing with smaller production ecosystems. To be clear,
the maker movement is not a technologically averse phenomenon.
Rather, it values the handcrafted over the purely digital and intuits
the ways tech can be used to the advantage of the maker (think: 3D
printing and laser cutting).
Institutions are now offering spaces specifically for this sort of production, such as Brooklyn’s Industry City, which skews space toward
creator tenants versus larger corporations, or BMW-backed design hub
A/D/O, which offers shared studio space for small-scale designers.
Bigger brands are defiantly taking note. As Ad Week reported a couple
years back, brands like Levi’s and Home Depot are “courting” micro-manufacturers to bring fresh credence to their macro-corporate brands.
We’re also witnessing this affinity for the privately owned/artisanal in the
formation of retail partnerships between old-school manufacturers like
Minnesota’s Faribault Woolen Mill Co. and big-box brands like West Elm
and Restoration Hardware.
The maker movement is all around us. It is a part of the shift toward
re-humanization (versus automation), authenticity (versus the ethos of
“mass market”), and the value of individuality (versus homogeneity). And
we’re privileged to be a part of it.
Michele Varian is a textile, wallpaper, lighting, and furniture designer
and micro-manufacturer. In addition to running her New York City shop,
she is also founder of Detroit Built Co. and co-founder and Chief Retail
Strategist of retail matchmaking platform Guesst.co. This essay originated from her weekly editorial series “Design Talk by MV” and has been
revised and re-published exclusively for interiors + sources.
LEFT A view of Brooklyn’s
Industry City, which skews space
toward creator tenants versus
BELOW Early use of machinery
used for manufacturing during
the industrial revolution.
To be clear, the maker movement is not a
technologically averse phenomenon. Rather, it
values the handcrafted over the purely digital...