There was a time when a show like Collect might not have merited much space in Design Week (see News Analysis, page 9). Our focus is on commercial design and Collect is unashamedly about craft – something its shift from the Victoria & Albert Museum to the Saatchi Gallery is likely to reinforce.
But the edges have blurred between craft and design to an extent that the two are often barely distinguishable. Designer-makers like Gareth Neal cross the boundary on the furniture front, as do many Design Nation members and participants in One Year On at July’s New Designers in London.
This is great news as the technological breakthroughs made by craftsmen in terms of materials and processes can inform the industrial processes used by designers. There is considerable evidence too of collaboration between the two camps – calligraphy in graphics, say, or drawing or ceramics in interiors – to add an extra dimension to a design project.
The idea that craft is just about the one-off and design about mass-production has long been exploded. Craftsfolk often produce batches of their work – and many aspire to mass-production for their creations – while design projects such as Glyndebourne’s new restaurant by Nigel Coates and Miller Bourne are surely one-offs (www.designweek.co.uk, 5 May).
Then there is the whole issue of design art. Glass artist Danny Lane showed a stunning array of coloured glass tables and other artefacts, courtesy of Italian company Dilmos, at the Milan furniture fair last month, and who is to say whether limited-edition pieces by the likes of architects Zaha Hadid and Amanda Levete for UK company Established & Sons are art or design? You can make a strong case either way.
‘Convergence’ is a word bandied about in advertising and digital design circles, but it is equally valid across the piece of design. So much is to be learned from cross-fertilisation and a focus on craft skills invariably makes for better design – and that can only be good.