With each passing year we become more obviously confronted by the returned sense of importance that artisanship plays in contemporary design. While traditional techniques and natural materials continue to reign supreme, it is novel approaches which often elevate craft into works of art. And while technological applications are growing equally popular, there is something about creating with one’s hands that is deeply intrinsic to the creative process, something that many designers today value as inherent to their work.
In our annual Craftsmanship Issue, you will discover a wide range of makers from across the globe – some may be new to you, while others will have produced works you may have admired through the years; some are situated as close as the emirate of Sharjah, others as far as the island of Martinique. Yet what these individuals and studios have in common is their commitment to preserving and continuing the legacy of traditional knowledge, now rendered in a whole new contemporary language: one that is fresh and intriguing, yet comfortably nostalgic.
In Lebanon, for example, preserving traditional crafts and supporting local artisans has become a national effort for its creative industry, as the country continues to suffer financial and political crises. And while an increasing number of Lebanon’s creative community have emigrated abroad, support for craftspeople in the country endures, solidifying the vital place these makers hold in the regional design eco-system. An in-depth feature on this topic can be found in the following pages of this issue.
Contrastingly, in Egypt, designers are at the early stages of rediscovering and re-appreciating the value of local craftsmanship, which, for a number of reasons, had not – until recently – evolved into the contemporary sphere. We learn more about the North African country’s creative renaissance by speaking to artist Omar Chakil, whose alabaster furniture and objects seek to raise the profile of traditional materials found in Egypt.
We are also excited to see the long-awaited, Anarchitect-designed Harding Boutique Hotel in Sri Lanka finally open to the public. The property takes inspiration from tropical modernism, which was spearheaded in the country by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. In an exclusive interview, we discuss with Anarchitect’s founder Jonathan Ashmore the challenges of the project, not least due to the Covid-19 restrictions, which led to all construction and craftsmanship being produced locally – with artisans creating joinery and furniture on-site and in close collaboration with the studio.
This made reflect on the fact that while the relationship between artist and artisan dates back centuries, it is quite remarkable to see that, many years later, these bonds remain resilient while also leaving room for evolution.
Read the full issue on ISSUU here.