News, Technology

The Beauty of Tech that Mimics Handmade Craft

Anna Wall

Amie Haven, Editor
@uxconnections

Think your new ceramic was lovingly created by hand? Tech may be behind the beautiful flaws

The slight unevenness, a different hue of colour, or perhaps a quirk in the pattern. These are the signs of handmade craftmanship that make products unique and special. But handmade products are more costly to produce compared to the industrial churning of machines. The industrial process can produce hundreds of identical items in the time it takes a true craftsperson to perfect just one piece. 

But who doesn’t love a product that feels unique? As though it was especially made for you? The industrial process means that businesses can mass produce items cheaply, sell them cheaply, and yet still make a profit. But where does that leave consumers who want affordable products with a human touch?

Studio JOACHIM-MORINEAU have been experimenting with the interplay between tech, craft, and industrial processes since 2018. The Moca collection of unique ceramics is the brainchild of Studio JOACHIM-MORINEAU’s founders, Carla Joachim and Jordan Morineau. By combining computer code and a dripping machine, the designers produce uniquely crafted ceramics at near industrial level.

Studio Joachim-Morineau, Project Moca, Photographer Pierre Castignola

What began as a research project has developed into a business. Studio JOACHIM-MORINEAU use a dripping machine to create clay structures and graphics, producing ceramics that contain design quirks with a handcrafted appeal. Using computer code to control the rotating base, the dripping machine controls the flow of clay into the mould, creating unique graphics or even self-supporting structures.

Studio Joachim-Morineau, Project Moca, Photographer Pierre Castignola

However, the design of such products is connected to more than just consumer preference and design research. Studio JOACHIM-MORINEAU are showcasing their work at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich (Museum of Design, Zurich), where the Design Laboratory: Materials and Technology exhibition runs until October 6, 2020. This exhibition links to wider issues relating to digitisation, sustainability, biotechnology, and materials technology. 

Design is progressing with the times. And whilst consumers might want cheap but unique goods, designers are not ignoring pressing global issues. Within the Innovation & Technology department, the IE University in Spain argues that design and tech are inevitable bedfellows. Sustainability, new materials, built environments, and community living are all areas where tech and design are meeting in an uncertain collaboration. 

Designers like Carla Joachim and Jordan Morineau have developed complementary layers of craft, design, tech, and industrial processes. Yet IE University are asking, “With the rate of technological innovation so far ahead of human behaviour, […] will artificial intelligence be a tool in the hands of designers or will it become an autonomous chief architect […]?”

Our future purchases hold more significance than whether an item is affordable or has the handcrafted quirks we desire. Technology, materials, and design are combining in ways that are exciting for both consumers and designers. But balance is required. No longer do we have to choose between the two: unique craftmanship and industrial methods. As consumers, we can have it all.

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