Craft debate: Satyendra Pakhalé

Industrial designer, DI2006 speaker and Design Indaba 10x10 Industrial project participant, Satyendra Pakhalé weighs in on the craft debate.

From the Series

“Craft is a human condition. On one hand it has been seen in a demeaning way until now. On the other hand, recently, there is a tendency to glorify craft in a nostalgic and romantic way. Neither is a healthy stance on craft. I believe craft is a profound human condition. Without craft, it is very hard to imagine innovation in any field of work, let alone design. Not to forget that craft also has a cultural dimension to it – a true integration of craft is essential in any society in order to innovate.

“Having a glance at history, one realises that the gap between industrialisation and manual work has never been as radical as that described by historians, who refer to the ideological conception of modernity as the enemy of crafts. To my mind, this is absurd. By reviewing the values of craftsmanship in the contemporary global economy, the manual work done in India and China today is not just ‘artisan’. It is somewhat near to industrial work; almost like industrial production done entirely with hands. That means even handmade can be produced on a relatively large scale. It is essential that we start thinking and talking about craftsmen and craftsmanship in a much broader and unlimited way. Working on precise three-dimensional mathematical models or on state-of-the-art software also requires craftsmanship. Using reverse engineering in a seamless manner in combination with the handwork is also craftwork.

“In that broad sense of understanding, it is indeed very much part of my work as a designer, working in a broad range of typologies from objects to transportation and architecture. What I am interested in is New Craftsmanship, which allies modernity with tradition, and daily folklore with advanced technology through eclectic methods, establishing itself as the catalyser of human communication. In my way of working, there is no categorical difference in hi-tech or low-tech, new or old but only possibilities of using and combining various tools and technologies on offer. Without forgetting the well-known quote from Aristotle: ‘Hands are the tool of tools’.”

Pakhalé’s Bell-metal Horse Chaise Longue, was first shown at the Designer’s Gallery/Gabrielle Ammann, Germany in 2008.