Craft debate: Justin McGuirk

Editor of Icon, a Design Indaba media partner, Justin McGuirk weighs in on Design Indaba's craft debate.

From the Series

“Craft is what design was before it became ‘design’; before the word was co-opted by designers in the 20th century to mean preparing an object for the process of mass production. These days, however, industrial manufacturing is just one means of production, and certainly not the most highly valued. The emphasis is shifting towards the unique and the customised. The revolution of the 21st century will be bespoke manufacturing – or a digital, mechanised form of craft. Design for galleries, currently fetching huge sums, is a return to craft – let’s call it ‘high craft’. There’s no difference between these chandeliers and pieces of furniture, and the ones that craftsmen used to produce for the aristocracy – no difference except the client. We’re returning to an age of patronage that has always existed and has always been served by artists and craftsmen. The 20th century will go down in history as the blip in that continuum.”

McGuirk said that Gaetano Pesce’s chandelier for Swarovski particularly came to mind in this regard.