Longing for craftsmanship by Cashmyra Rozendaal
In this age of digitalisation there is a group of people who started worshipping the ‘’good old times’’. Some people never completely quitted their slightly old fashioned habits and other people started to see the value in craftsmanship, authenticity and epic feelings of nostalgia. Vinyl, vintage goods, handcrafted beer, local food, small retailers, analogue photography and slow coffee are products that are quite popular these days.
A few years ago there was suddenly the introduction of the ‘hipster’. A hipster can be defined as a person who knows what is cool before the rest of the world might discover this (Greif, 2010). They hate mainstream products and it is all about a certain developed taste. There are also jokes about placing a hipstertrap somewhere, a combination between vintage and modern gadgets, combined with check woodcutter shirts, beards, tattoo’s and freshly brewed coffee and/or handcrafted beer. If we take handcrafted beer as an example, it is all about craftsmanship, the actual quality of the product, the rarity of the product and also about authenticity and nostalgia. In the end, everything that is produced on a small scale gets more attention from the makers thus it is better compared to a product that was mass produced in a factory.
This consumer need for craftsmanship and authenticity (Klamer, 2012) can be seen as an countertrend in the time when products should be produced easily, with hardly any human labour and most of all, as cheap as possible. This countertrend, just like the hipster, became an actual trend at some point and it has been going on for a few years now. At this point, it has been going on too long to be defined as a hype. Different products keep appearing on the market and this need for craftsmanship and authenticity is definitely a meso trend. Whether this trend is on its peak is questionable since we seem to be in the middle of the cycle.
There are a lot of brands on a micro level that rebrand into something that is looking craftier. Take a look at some Dutch/Belgian beer brands for example. In quite a short period of time, Brand, Palm, Grolsch and Albert Heijn pilsener changed their appearance into something that is clearly trying to look more authentic.
We entered an area where products from a factory became ‘bad’. We seem to long for a certain amount of authenticity in this world full of products that are all the same. If we run out of second hand guitars from the 70’s, we produce some custom guitars that are brand new but look nicely worn already.
A reason behind this longing for craftsmanship and authenticity could have something to do with the fact that people nowadays have quite abstract jobs and are not really in touch with the actual product they develop. (Newport, 2016) This whole process of having more and more office jobs is also caused by the mega trend digitalisation. If you have an office job somewhere, you might be just a small link in the chain and you might miss an overview. You might feel empty and unsatisfied because your job doesn’t seem to lead anywhere, except for the fact that you make some money. Craftsmanship and handmade products are labour intensive and actual touchable products, so their value is increased (Klamer, 2012).
Do you think that craftsmanship and authenticity will continue to play a big role in the future?
Greif, Mark. ‘’The Hipster in the Mirror,’’ in The New York Times, November 2010, http://pages.vassar.edu/fren380/files/2013/03/The-Sociology-of-the-Hipster-Essay-NYTimes.pdf (visited 07-09-2016)
Klamer, Arjo. ‘’Crafting Culture: The importance of craftsmanship for the world of the arts and the economy at large,’’ on klamer.nl, June 2012, http://www.klamer.nl/docs/crafting.pdf (visited 08-09-2016)
Newport, Cal. ”Deep Work”. January 2016. Little Brown UK.