The word I have been reading over and over again in design and furniture catalogs and magazines is hand.
The finish is hand rubbed, the basket is hand woven and the edging on the sheet, hand crocheted. While this vibrant trend may seem to apply only to those who want the comfort and authenticity of the past, it is very much present in products that appeal to the most avant-garde. Crafting in metal, stone, glass, and clay is being sought after for contemporary interiors. Wood has always been the number one material we rely on and covet and it is more prevalent than ever.
While we revere the progress that has been made in the production of goods and services, we are beginning to put an ever-higher premium on the craftsmanship of the past–and those who are determined to preserve it.
The operative trend is a search for authenticity and purity in our daily living. And we are also becoming aware that unless we support such endeavors, those who practice them will disappear from the scene. A visit to a craft fair is an eye-opening experience. It is not the craft that we saw in the 1970’s, the last time when we realized the true importance of the handmade. It is, of course, interpreted for our times and far more sophisticated.
For some time we have looked to foreign countries to satisfy our desire for the beautiful basket, the thrown pot, the handmade quilt. That is not likely to change. But we are becoming more reliant on the closer-to-home craftsmen and artisans. Perhaps the manufacture of many items is now done off shore—but the design and the inspiration for the American market is more home grown. Our craftsmen, from Paul Revere on, have been innovators and dedicated to a purely American point of view.
This does not mean that we are not still enamored of or need the mass produced. That will never change. But within the goods and services we need, there is a definite trend toward the hand done and the creativity that designs the things we touch. This creativity invests those things with art as well as utility.
Natural materials have more of an appeal than they have had for years. At a recent wool fair in the Northeast, one could hardly find foot space! This is one reason for the soaring popularity of linen fabrics, a natural and tactile cover elegant in its simplicity. One example from Hooker Furniture is the Fifi vanity chair. We also seem to want to know where the materials have been harvested from; the story of the material is part of the appeal of those things we are choosing to live with. This current thirst for craft is definitely a trend to watch and hopefully to encourage. When you touch the drawer pull on the chest where your linens are stored, think about the design and the designer and the craftsman who made it happen. When you dust a table with a finish that delights the eye and is easy to care for, thank the craft and innovation that has brought it to you. And hopefully, more craftsmanship will be appearing in our lives as the marketplace supports the unique work of men and women who see the possibilities in materials and who dedicate themselves to creating by hand.