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Battling Megacorps

Gerard McGuickin
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Whether it’s a yearning for quality, the acknowledgement that less is better or a desire to conserve scarce resources, craft methods are increasingly regarded as innovative in the context of 21st century globalization and mass consumerism.

How the Craftsman Turns a Profit

In taking a stand against reprobate behaviors such as overconsumption, waste and the exploitation of labor, many people are turning their attention towards avant-garde start-ups and small enterprises, enticed by their affability, authenticity and individuality. Of course valuing craftsmanship for these positive virtues is all well and good, but still manufacturers and makers must ultimately turn a profit in order to survive.

In one example, Swedish venture Iris Hantverk works with visually impaired craftspeople to make brushes by hand, in the same manner since the late 19th century. At its core, Iris Hantverk focuses on brush binding, manufacturing its brushes in Enskede, Stockholm. The historic Swedish enterprise is capitalizing on the expanding universal appeal of products built to last. Sara Edhäll, a co-owner of Iris Hantverk, observes, “We remain a relatively small company. It wasn’t our intention to expand globally, but with the growing worldwide interest in sustainable consumption and production, the interest in our products has also grown. We have customers in countries across the world, including Japan, the USA, Europe and Australia.”

With scale, Jan Kath can ensure livelihoods are preserved.

At Jan Kath, a much sought-after contemporary carpet designer, sumptuous rugs are hand woven in Kathmandu, Nepal and Azilal by more than 2,500 skilled carpet weavers. Designs are drawn up on a computer, but it is the creative skill of each craftsman that breathes life into every carpet. With scale, Jan Kath can ensure that fair wages are paid and livelihoods are preserved.

The Industrialization of Craft through Technology

More and more, mass industrialization and the standardization of processes act to encourage a lot of smaller enterprises to think about how their unique handmade products can still reach a global audience. New technologies, including LEDs, 3-D printing and CAD, together with an understanding of the capacity of good craftsmanship, ensure companies remain authentic and true to their craft while simultaneously producing on a larger scale.

From its factory HQ in Valencia, Spain, LZF Lamps crafts a prepossessing collection of wood veneer lights by hand. Established in 1994 by Mariví Calvo and Sandro Tothill, LZF has built a reputation for excellence. Working with wood from the beginning, LZF developed Timberlite, an in-house patent that transformed the way in which the company uses veneer. “One of the interesting facts about production at LZF is that it revolves around the same methods we used when I was involved in production,” says co-founder Sandro Tothill. He adds: “Over time, we’ve employed more people who work on individual elements. Our Timberlite wooden veneers are punched, riveted, spliced, cut into strips and cut on a digital plotter, all by hand. Similarly, the shades are constructed by hand.” LZF is a small company that remains true to its artisanal roots, while also reaching a global audience.

Courtesy of Connect
Courtesy of Connect

Jan Kath’s showroom in Cologne. Courtesy of the designer.

Kerman sofa, Iza carpet and Backenzahn stool by e15. Courtesy of the brand.

Courtesy of Architectmade

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