In 2005, when an explosion of elite technological tools became available to hobbyists, the tech and DIY communities converged in the Bay Area to become the Maker Movement. The Maker Faire grew out of this evolution to showcase makers’ work and share knowledge at flagship events in San Francisco, New York and Chicago, and has grown to 150+ fairs globally.
At these fairs, you’ll find everything from a 30-foot fire-breathing robot made of airplane parts to drone obstacle course races to tech infused textiles. According to the Maker Faire Program Director, Sabrina Merlo, “the fair in essence has resurrected what we call ‘the maker experience’, after a long spell of mass consumption; we have rediscovered the euphoria and value of actually making things again.”
There has been a cultural shift away from mass production and consumption, as seen in the rise of farmers markets, for one example. People are looking for the human hand in what we consume, whether we make it ourselves or see the craft in something we buy. So, it is no coincidence that maker culture has entered our design consciousness and vernacular. This tendency shows up in interior design, as designers are working with skilled artisans, embracing the meaning they bring to a space both visually and energetically.
Interior designer, Brad Ford not only partners with craftspeople in his projects, he also promotes artisanal work at his showroom FAIR at the New York Design Center and at Field + Supply, an annual modern maker fair in the Hudson Valley.
“Unlike mass-produced goods, artisanal pieces express the vulnerability and humanity of the craftsperson – an imperfect beauty that’s indelibly noted in the art of interior design,” Ford said. “A layer of soul and simple luxury comes with things that are lovingly crafted by hand – a legacy that continues as the piece ages, develops a history of its own, and moves forward through the generations.”
Artists are devoting their lives and making businesses out of their passion, connecting with designers and buyers at shows and at showrooms like Harbinger LA, Modern Living Supplies, NY Now, and High Point Market.
Kate Casey of Peg Woodworking is a trained sculptor working in Brooklyn. She studied both Peruvian and American Indian weaving techniques, and these skills come together throughout her collection. Casey has built relationships, and repeated commissions, with interior designers who understand the lead times and pricing that comes with custom work.
Craft Associates, displaying in Interhall at High Point Market, specializes in Mid-Century- inspired design, hand crafted in the United States with sustainable materials. Each piece possesses a beauty, uniqueness, a character of vintage combined with the freshness of modernity.
Interior designer Beth van Dorp Collier envisioned designs in her client projects that she could not source in the marketplace. Now catering to the design trade, most of the vanCollier line is customizable.
“Accustomed to sketching and discussing ideas at the end of the day over a glass of wine with my husband Chris, we started making furniture in 1995 not realizing we were creating a line,” van Dorp Collier said. “It’s a challenge to meet client specifications while keeping the scale and proportion to our original vision, but seeing our drawings come to life, working with local artisans is very fulfilling”.
The Maker Movement has emerged in response to fast food, fast fashion and disposable décor burnout, reframing how we want to consume, even in design. Spanning millennials to baby boomers, consumers have a new appreciation for things crafted — from food to furniture, understanding that things hand-made can bring soul to their homes.