Material Craft -- Session 6 included presentations by Chris Lefteri and Chris Taylor
This was one session that combined two speakers perfectly under one heading. Material Craft defined their identity and unique skills within their expertise in materials. Their lectures were articulate, confident, and straightforward. They both had the same first name...I didn't make a mistake.
It was rather refreshing in retrospect that they didn't have any social agenda, amateur knitting, or stuffed animals. They considered themselves EXPERTS with complete professionalism.
The difference between these two speakers is that Chris Lefteri seemed to relish his investigation into a variety of materials (hence his books, left and below), while Chris Taylor was a technical expert in working with one material, glass.
In this post, I will cover Chris Lefteri. The next post will be about Chris Taylor.
What did I learn?
Chris Lefteri is a leading authority on materials and their application in design. Lefteri has published eight books on design and material innovations, including the highly acclaimed “Materials for Inspirational Design” series (RotoVision, 2001–7), and METALS, and Making It: Manufacturing Techniques for Product Design (Laurence King, 2007).
These books look really interesting, but I can't find them in my local library. (I really wish that the Craft Forward Symposium had a table with the books by all the speakers. Before I buy a book, I want to know that it will continue to serve as a reference.)
Chris Lefteri's lecture had a structure with a number of key points. Unfortunately, he showed far too many "key" points to keep track of. Instead, I have found example images that relate to the lecture content.
Lefteri explained a multi-dimensional approach to materials. He said that "industrial designers have lost the skill of making," lacking love and understanding of the materials. His books and blog look like they are designed to be resources for the industrial and manufacturing professions.
Lefteri was also very interested in the way materials and the process of "craft" were explained and cited a range of sources from cookbooks and MAKE Magazine to the BMW car showroom.
What were the thought-provoking issues raised?
I would agree with Chris Lefteri's assessment that since designing has become all CAD (Computer-Aided Design), the "hands-on" component of fabrication and first-hand knowledge of materials is lost for industry. Academic programs in Engineering, Industrial Design, and Architecture are struggling with just this issue.
This is a really ironic point that may have been lost in front of an audience of makers devoted to their natural instinct with materials rather than technical understanding or working with CAD/CAM manufacturing.
My opinion is that it is rather unfortunate that so little cross-fertilization occurs between makers and industry. Makers rarely get to experiment and apply their instincts with materials to new industrial processes which are so far from our studios. I assume that this was Chris Lefteri's objective as he showed us multiple experiments with materials.
Material "sandwich" image (left) taken by emiko oye during Chris Lefteri's lecture. While this concept of a material sandwich was a new term to me, it seems that this is a common practice in Industry to incorporate multiple material properties. Think skis, snowboards, and building materials as a few familiar examples.
I wonder...Is this Craft Forward?
In retrospect, I would consider his lecture one of the few that exemplified the fundamental concept of Craft Forward in the whole conference! If only Industry could invite artists to play with the materials, processes, and technologies available in manufacturing. This would advance Craft Forward to fabulous proportions.
Background about the Chris Lefteri:
Making It: Manufacturing Techniques for Product Design (Laurence King, 2007)
This post was updated on February 2, 2022, to provide current links.