Artistic craft (kunsthåndværk) are something that stands in a display case that you’re not supposed to put greasy fingers on. That’s the verdict from a student at the Design School Kolding. Throughout the winter, Formkraft has brought thought-provoking and sometimes depressing reports about the education at the new design universities, which the schools are well on their way to developing. Unfortunately, artistic craft seems to be losing ground.
That the students see themselves more as practitioners of craft rather than craft artist (kunsthåndværkere) is perfectly fine. We must – and this also applies to us at DKoD (Danish Crafts & Design Association)- clear up the concepts and remember that ‘craft’ gives associations to handwork, whereas ‘kunsthåndværk’ signals that there is also a certain aesthetic ambition involved. This is not to say that artistic craft is doomed to collect dust as an art object in a museum display case for the rest of its life. On the contrary.
Artistic craft shape the future. It’s our hallmark. Craft artists contain the good blend of craftsmanship and art, where we combine form and function, yes, we beautify everyday life to use a more old-fashioned term. Where did the term “applied art” go?
Admitted: We established craft artists must take responsibility ourselves. We lack defining what artistic craft (kunsthåndværk) is and can be today. Not least, we lack making the world and apparently also the Danish design schools aware of all our advantages.
Here I agree with furniture maker Johannes Foersom, who calls for practical research at design schools. Foersom hits the nail on the head. Shouldn’t research at design schools be based on practical studies? Have we killed off the specialists in favor of the generalists? It’s like trying to write a symphony without being able to play an instrument. Where do you learn the craft? On YouTube?
If anyone contributes to giving new sustainable materials the aesthetic angle that is also necessary, it is the craft artist. We are experts in material-based research. If a student becomes self-driving in terms of techniques and materials, they learn early on to make products usable. So, the result is not primarily based on play and chance. Training must go from hand to hand, and greasy fingers are more than welcome.
Danish Crafts & Design Association have a valuable bank of specialists, which the schools must hurry to learn from before it’s too late. Artistic craft is something essential and valuable that we must pass on to the next generation. Otherwise, the basic know-how and foundation for Danish design will lose its shape. That’s why my great wish is that we on several levels mix the old guard with the new wild. Something really fruitful could come out of it. The baton is now passed on..