Our Future is in the Making


November 16 2014

Earlier this year I learned that Bucks New University was closing its’ furniture degree programme. Then I discovered that the furniture course at Leeds College was closing and I now I hear that Falmouth University have announced the closure of its’ Contemporary Crafts Degree. So what is the future, one wonders, for craft education? This week, in the UK, the Crafts Council launched ‘Our Future is in the Making: An Education Manifesto for Craft and Making’ while Apple’s head designer, Jonathan Ive, criticized design schools for failing to teach students how to make objects, relying heavily on computers. It appears that you can now spend four years studying the design of three dimensional objects without actually making one!

In 2011, the V&A and the UK Crafts Council celebrated the role of making in The Power of Making. In this exhibition, guest curator Daniel Charny explored both traditional forms of making and those that are innovative, concluding that ‘both are crucially important…but they serve different purposes’. Craft skills, that intrinsic ability to make, are the basis of so many manufacturing techniques and there are many instances where craft continues to successfully collaborate, not only with technology and industry, but also with art and design.

We only have to look at internationally successful designers like Joseph Walsh, who continues to use a craft vocabulary but clearly speaks many languages, to see what the power of making can achieve. One hopes that educators will also begin to see this.


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Frances McDonald