WE SHAPE OUR TOOLS AND THEREAFTER OUR TOOLS SHAPE US
Industrie- und Systemdesign
Möbel- und Ausstattungsdesign
“Artisans of the past — the predecessors of our designers’ guild — were rarely satisfied with tools as they found them in the shop. They always had the tendency to personalize their tools, to appropriate them by honing them, converting them or expanding them. The more specialized the work, the greater the demand for customized or individually made instruments. For instance, letter-cutters in the past thought up methods of working faster and more meticulously, and to that end they designed not only new fonts, but also counterpunches and other new tools.”
Jan Middendorp explains in his text ‘tools’ how tools, in the old days, were important for makers, artisans and artists. Apprentices started to learn to make their own tools, before they learned the actual craft from their master. Now, we don’t know much anymore from the making of tools. We even hardly use them anymore. They became highly technical and they evolved away from the hand to the machine.
Also Juhani Pallasmaa, in his book ‘The Thinking Hand’, puts a lot of emphasis on working with the hand, on making things. He had, as an architect, great interest in the ratio and new technologies, but the last years he started to give more attention and importance to working by hand, thinking by doing. He sees a tool as an evolution over years to perfect a certain operation that can not be done only by hand. The tool, he explains, is a lengthening-piece of the body and the mind. Once you know the tool very well, you don’t notice its presence anymore. It becomes a part of the body of the operator.
How do we use tools these days? What kind of tools do we use? It seems like the computer became our ‘all-in- one’ toolbox for doing many things, from designing to communicating to photographing to planning and organization. The computer is the tool of this century. But what is the role of the hand in this tool? And do we lose our ability to use other tools, such as pens and camera’s? Digital manufacturing methods allow the digital to manipulate the physical again and therefore to effortlessly jump back and forth between both worlds.
In seven two-day sessions, we tried to explore several design and making tools, from traditional hand tools to digital production tools and hybrids, and we tried to compare them, use them together and even blend them into one. We faced stereotypes such as ‘only things made by hand have a soul’ and ‘the hand-made object is imperfect’ to see what making nowadays still means.