Craftsmanship is making a comeback in the design world, as many young designers find different ways to refer to a traditional craft. The Danish-Swedish design studio All The Way To Paris is proof of this.
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Last year, the design exhibition “The Future Is Handmade” was shown in several locations in Sweden. The acclaimed exhibition depicted how crafts in various forms affect fashion, graphic design and product design. Among the participants was All The Way To Paris (atwtp), a graphic design group based in Copenhagen. The group exhibited collages made with the cut-and-glue method and also designed the catalogue for the exhibition. The catalogue had rectangular embossing on the front page, to which silver foil was attached by hand to all 600 copies. Petra Olsson Gendt, co-founder of the studio, describes why the manual tradition of the craft still matters.
“Since we have a background in book design, a genuine, centuries-old craft, tradition and history still matter a great deal to us. Even though today’s graphic designers use different tools, you need at least some sort of idea about the craft that lies behind the physical book in order to be a skilled designer.”
Do printed physical objects still have a role to play in the era of e-books and iPads?
“I think there will always be printed material. If there was no demand for printed information and entertainment it would be gone by now. The tactile dimension is important to us humans, and our desire for tactile experiences cannot be satisfied simply by looking at a screen. Packaging and other three-dimensional applications will obviously always be physical objects.”
Children’s toys in beech wood, developed for Danish furniture maker Hay. The name comes from the shape and was inspired by the designers' own twins.
Why do you think craft and handmade design represent such strong trends today?
“Experiencing genuine craft and handmade design represents a form of meeting. Handmade objects carry an element of the human behind them, which may be lost in a digital experience. “This need will never go away, and these days, when so much around us is digital and electronic, the need for the authentic and handmade is stronger than ever before. “To many people, myself included, handmade is synonymous with quality, exclusivity and something that is well made. It signals attention and care and the notion that someone has cared about creating something.”
3D collage for a CD project with children’s fairy tales. The collages were photographed and used as illustrations.
Do you draw inspiration from other crafts besides graphic design?
“Yes, the textile craft is one example. We recently designed a collection of carpets, where we approached the textile tradition by applying our expertise in graphic design to physical objects. “The carpets are woven in India, where they use a different technology, and we learned a lot from this tradition. The collaboration resulted in a collection for the Danish furniture maker & tradition. “That’s a creative development path that we at atwtp would like to pursue further. Based in our roots in book design we transform our design into other areas, where clients seek our help, but the clients’ needs always remain our point of origin.”
TEXT: JONAS REHNBERG