Craft FORWARD Symposium 2011 - Mass Craft, Theaster Gates Constructs Context with Added Value
Craft Forward Symposium 2011 - Material Craft with Chris Taylor Blowing Glass (Floating in a Boat, Upside Down or Inside Out)

Craft FORWARD Symposium 2011 - Material Craft with Chris Lefteri Materials Expert

Material Craft -- Session 6 included presentations by Chris Lefteri and Chris Taylor

Craft Forward symbolic Game Board 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.

Glass 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, Materialsincluding the highly acclaimed “Materials for Inspirational Design” series (RotoVision, 2001–7), andMETALS METALS, and Making It: Manufacturing Techniques for Product Design (Laurence King, 2007).

Making It

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. 


CLefteri5 CLefteri2
Image of food and BMW showroom were taken by emiko oye during the Chris Lefteri lecture as examples of craft.

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. 

Sandwichstructures and materials 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.

Sandwichofmaterials 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?

Bare 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 Nonconductive ink proportions.



Background about the Chris Lefteri:


Chris Lefteri is the editor of Ingredients Magazine an online magazine with 5,000 subscribers bridging the gap between designers and material manufacturers. He has written the following books:

MaterialsMaterials for Inspirational Design” series (RotoVision, 2001–7), METALS METALS,

Making It: Manufacturing Techniques for Product Design (Laurence King, 2007)

This post was updated on February 2, 2022, to provide current links.

Making It