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GloW-DESIGN's 2018 Topic of Exploration

Design is the craft of the 21st century - or is it?

In the past, design and craft were integrally related. Today we are challenged with maintaining the making and skill of craft in its original context as an expression of culture and identity. With the emergence of design as a standalone professional practice, the relationship with craft has been severed, yet designers increasingly seek to design craft, while the traditional craftsperson crafts design.

Technology has led to the abstraction of design, changing the process of making from hand to machine. With this has come an anonymity and multiplication. Therefore, the return to craft, in contrast, is searching for unique expression. Across the world, modern culture seeks to fight this anonymity, presenting the challenge to bring back the sense of rarity and individuality.

Seeking intellectual and creative clarity, our 2018 theme - DESIGN & CRAFT: Rethinking the craft of Design and the design of Craft - explores both the co-dependence of design and craft, as well as the distinct professional practices associated with each. We seek answers to such questions as:


  • How can we define creativity, application and engagement for the 21st century?

  • How does experience relate to making and its relationship to place?

  • Thinking about the making (and not the made), how do we shape theoretical making versus the theory of practice?

  • What is craft of Design in the digital age?

  • What is design of Craft in the digital age?

  • Does reproduction / mass production lead to the loss of value of the original?

  • How can mass produced design (for example, products / clothing/ prefabricated buildings) be imbued with greater individuality and individualized expression?

  • Materiality inherently shapes its craft: have modern materials inspired, improved or reduced the need for craftsmanship?

  • The art of Craft is inherently shaped by its tools and technology: how do modern production technologies (such as 2D / 3D printing, laser cutting, sintering, photo-chemical etching) shape a new craft?

Explored in alignment with Craft, the role and value of Design and the Designer must be identified and reshaped. It is necessary to not only stake a flag in an environment where anything can be called "design" and every person can be labeled a "designer", but to also carve out the critical role of the creative human - who uniquely possesses the innovative capabilities to thoughtfully employ expertise with the inherent human qualities of craft to realize adroit physical manifestations - in an increasingly technological world.

In order to stay relevant, valuable and fully harness the power of Design to shape our best future, it is imperative to challenge the status quo and reimagine the relationship between Design and Craft in an intentional and mutualistic exploration in order to ensure a well-designed and well-crafted future for the next generations.

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