Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Return of Arts & Crafts

Image from the latest issue of American Craft Magazine

The revival of craft in America, both as a hobby and a profession, is undeniable. Now the classic magazine representing the genre has a new look. The 65 year-old American Craft magazine was revamped by former-Dwell editor Andrew Wagner and graphic designer Jeanette Abbink. The design is distinctive from other crafter pubs, like ReadyMade and Make. First off, there's the font: Fleischmann, an 18th-century Baroque style of type with looping serifs. It's a break from the more lean, clean, modern look of its competition. They also brought back a logo from the 1970's (with some minor adjustments).

The content is a nice mix of profiles on established professionals, trend pieces, and notes about up-and-comers. The latest issue includes an article called the Hand Meets the High Tech about an upcoming exhibition “Evolution/Revolution: The Arts and Crafts in Contemporary Fashion and Textiles” at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art. It ponders whether there is a new arts and crafts movement in America.

For more on the redesign itself, see the April issue of Print magazine.

Richard Sennett, urban sociologist and professor at the London School of Economics, believes that it is time to recognize and respect this renewed interest in craft. His forthcoming book The Craftsman argues that this desire to make something physical propels us to question assumptions and to develop new ways of creation. He also believes the sentiments behind "craft" extend well beyond the traditional assumptions of the word. From the publisher's website:

Defining craftsmanship far more broadly than “skilled manual labor,” Richard Sennett maintains that the computer programmer, the doctor, the artist, and even the parent and citizen engage in a craftsman’s work. Craftsmanship names the basic human impulse to do a job well for its own sake, says the author, and good craftsmanship involves developing skills and focusing on the work rather than ourselves.