The leftovers of luxury are in the limelight this week at Craft Punk, a collaboration between Fendi and Design Miami. In what might be called living design, the three-day event kicked off Tuesday at the Spazio Fendi showroom in Milan as part of the Salone del Mobile.
The Italian handbag manufacturer has invited 13 industrial designers from around the world to take part in an onsite creative performance where they can use discarded materials from Fendi’s production process, such as leather, branded fabrics, plastic decorative elements and metal hardware, to make just about anything they want. The idea is to readapt typical processes and materials to traditional and handmade craft methods. The designers will also have decades of know-how on tap thanks to the presence of Fendi artisans, many of whom have more than 40 years of experience working with leather and other signature Fendi materials.
British designer Simon Hasan, for instance, will boil leather, completely transforming its texture and aesthetic properties, while Danish textile designer Sarah Becker will rework Fendi accessories using embroidery and collage techniques. Other examples include the creation of a large-scale animatronic machine by Yuri Suzuki & Household as well as Kwangho Lee;s jungle-like installation of elaborately woven together common objects such as electrical cords and garden hoses. The finished objets d’arts will go on tour in the US and Japan next year. One of the stated goals of Craft Punk is to demonstrate the importance of creativity and innovation in times of scarcity as well as abundance.
Craft Punk is just one example of a larger trend in which objects and materials first brought into the world via mass production are appropriated for something entirely different. As we wrote about in a recent piece on creative convergence, creative culture has become a mashup of art, craft, fashion and design as the boundaries between different disciplines become increasingly blurry.
Authors Steven Skov Holt and Mara Holt Skov explore this phenomenon, which they call “manufracturing,” in their recent book Manufractured: The Conspicuous Transformation of Everyday Objects, published by Chronicle. “Taking something apart and putting it back together in a way never previously seen is a strong endorsement for the merits of creative process—and a testament to the optimistic, can-do and even whimsical spirit that is simultaneously threaded and embedded throughout many of these pieces,” they explain.
They go on to describe how nearly every creative field has been quick “to claim or reclaim ‘craft’ as part of their professional heritage” and how luxury brands have “focused marketing…on their products’ artisanal tradition.” The result, Holt and Skov write, “is a new fusion of sensibilities whereby the creators of objects look outside their profession-bound sources for fresh insights. The search for potential materials has taken them to unconventional places—to grocery and hardware stores, to recycling and scrap piles, to cosmetics counters, even directly to manufacturers.”
In the case of Fendi, it is the manufacturer who has gone directly to the designers—a welcome, refreshing move during a time when we couldn’t be more aware of the importance of being crafty.
For more information, seewww.designmiami.com/craftpunk.
Design Miami and Fendi present Craft Punk at Spazio FENDI, April 22-24, from 4-8pm.