The Artisan Renaissance: Reconnecting with our Possessions

In the age of technology, mass-production and instant gratification, we have witnessed resistance with the unmistakable revitalisation of the artisan. ‘Bespoke’, ‘local’ and ‘artisan’ products are on the rise with consumer surveys in the UK suggesting that interest in hand-crafted goods has more than doubled since 2004. As production trends consistently illustrate efforts to manufacture cheaper, increase margins, and outsource production- the artisan renaissance is fighting back.
The Re-Emergence of the Artisan
The explosive success of Etsy.com, is evidence that there is significant consumer demand for handcrafted and personalised products. The peer-to-peer marketplace founded in 2005 now has over 1.7 million vendors selling unique artisan goods worldwide. The artisan movement has also benefited from significant support in the crowd funding industry. Artisanal categories account for over 20% of all Kickstarter campaigns and have received over $100 million in user donations.
Rosy Greenlees, executive director of the Crafts Council, explains the growing interest in artisan goods as a ‘re-engagement with processes and a desire to reconnect with our physical surroundings…an awakening interest in provenance and authenticity”. Indeed, Ms. Greenlees’ insight rings true.
Reconnecting with our Possessions
Technology has advanced our society to the point where we are voluntarily slowing down. Mass production and outsourcing has created a disconnect between the consumer and the product, and we are yearning to re-create meaning in our possessions. The desire to understand the story and life of our belongings can help explain why people are increasingly motivated to buy hand-made goods despite cheaper alternatives.
The success of this artisan renaissance helps to shed light on a growing segment of consumers who desire more from their purchases than just its primary function. It is indicative of a transition away from disposable, meaningless items, towards a more conscious and engaged consumer. A consumer who is curios about where their new purchase came from, who made it, and how it found its way into their hands. These are the questions we should all be asking, and they are a lot easier to answer when buy from the makers themselves.