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Touch of Genius: Traditional craft, its relationship to place, culture and nature, and design praxis

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paperpeer-review

Publication date3/11/2018
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventCumulus Wuxi 2018: Diffused Transitions, Design Opportunities - School of Design, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China
Duration: 31/10/20184/11/2018


ConferenceCumulus Wuxi 2018
Internet address


This paper addresses contemporary shifts in material production and material appreciation within a late-modern, increasingly digital, cultural milieu and demonstrates the values and growing recognition of heritage practices and products in the UK.
Our research for the Living Design Project, in Cumbria, UK, demonstrates a growing interest and international recognition of the importance of place-based traditions and the handmade, in a globalized, digital world. This paper explores the complex contrasts, contradictions and interrelationships among, on the one hand, tradition, place, culture and meaning and, on the other, economic growth and technology.
Through interviews carried out with small and micro-enterprises we demonstrate that these ways of working are illustrative of values-based creative praxis rather than conventional design practice. These enterprises are manifestations of ways of working that recognise connections between theory and practice, and between the wise determination of ends and the means of attaining those ends (Heidegger, 1962, 409-10). Drawing on Gadamer’s (1989) interpretive methods, Godzeiba describes praxis as “action based on reflection that changes the situation for the better” (Godzeiba, 2014). This work explores the role of the creative activities in fostering principles that are environmental, ethical, social, economic and political (Honderlich, 1995, 1804).
Research findings suggest the praxes of makers interviewed embody values that promote positive personal, social and environmental modes of living through engaging with traditional making methods and use of materials, which are deeply embedded within place. Our research explores ways in which such praxes and values can be recognised, valued and sustained, and as such can be developed into a model for ethically responsible contemporary design.