Putting Craft at the Heart of Design

The definition of craft has changed substantially over the last 15 years.

Leigh Chandler directs the creative output for design and illustration studio Vault49 in New York. In 2015 she will be Foreman of the D&AD Awards Crafts for Design Jury. Below she advocates an approach to craft which goes beyond just the execution, to the heart of the idea itself.

Design can be more meaningful, and can create stronger emotional connections with people when craft is a fundamental part of the process.

The definition of craft has changed substantially over the last 15 years. Now the range of executional possibilities is incredibly exciting and varied; from traditional craft processes such as printmaking through to modern-day marvels like CGI.

Yet craft in relation to design should exist beyond trend and execution.

When integrated throughout the creative process, a craft-based approach can be the common factor that allows a brand or piece of communication to tell a richer and deeper story, and connect to people with added integrity.

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Craft doesn’t have to mean disappearing into a workshop, but it should involve passion, innovation, and a human connection. We see craft in design executions, but it also deserves a place in strategic planning and concept development too. And this should be a constant collaboration and not a step-by-step process.

This is such fertile ground to produce innovative new work; in 2015 I’m expecting to see a wealth of new designers and creative teams distinguishing themselves with a more integrated focus on craft.

Conversely, I expect to see less focus on execution for the sake of execution. Likewise campaigns that follow certain trends yet aren’t necessarily relevant to the client or to the brief. The novelty value of seeing a return to crafted executions has gone, but what remains is the ability to use craft to innovate within design and to connect with people. But we will be treated to a host of designs that marry the simplicity and intelligence of a great idea, executed in a beautifully crafted and appropriate way.

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