Design Anthology - Asia Pacific Edition
Return of the Artisan: How America Went from Industrial to Handmade
The recent renaissance of maker culture points to a previous absence, which lasted perhaps two generations; pre-war generations certainly embodied a DIY ethos, but it may have been lost in the culture of convenience created in the post-war boom.
Cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken also situates the apotheosis of industrial culture in the post-war US of the 1950s. Return of the Artisan traces the development of the country’s artisanal scene from the hippie counterculture of the 1960s to the boost it has received in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which precipitated a return to making bread and tending kitchen gardens, among other pursuits. Indeed, food is a thread throughout, its own history symbolising the post-war ethos of ‘buy it pre-made’. The breezy work also discusses the pioneers of the artisanal movement in the US, as well as outlining major waves and their impacts on a few towns, before giving a ‘howto’ for budding artisans and some thoughts on the impact of the pandemic on the future. While often romantic, sometimes to the point of utopian, it’s a worthwhile read for anyone interested in further exploring maker culture.