Three months ago
As we march towards the future and our daily lives become increasingly digitised, we still look back to the past for inspiration. A counter-point to living large online, we also seek meaningful human experiences that remind us of simpler times.
As a civilisation, we have successfully converted most mechanical processes into a digital form. While we develop artificial intelligence which is likely to influence many of our day to day encounters, we are simultaneously reinstating many traditional practises and pastimes that were all but lost.
In the last few years, we have seen a resurgence of DIY crafts, bespoke hand-made goods and locally sourced artisan ingredients. We visit organic growers’ markets and sip on cold-brewed coffee. We keep chickens, bees and compost bins. Major Australian breweries are now hopping mad due to the increased popularity of craft beer, a market which is expected to grow by 5% per year over the next five years compared with anticipated growth of only 1.7% for traditional beer*.
Ten years ago, we spent all our time contacting friends on Facebook, making playlists on our iPod Touch and snapping away on our digital cameras. While we still spend a large amount of our time online, now we send handwritten notes on personalised letterpress stationery, listen to vinyl records and process our own film.
As well as an Apple Store, many shopping centres also now feature at least one traditional barber offering a cut-throat shave, beard oil and moustache wax. Yes.
This nostalgic trend is also evident in the world of design with the growing obsession with hand lettering, hand painting and hand finishing which are in complete contrast to the minimalist, monochromatic design styles popular in the 2000’s. This reaction in itself echoes the past, when the ornamental excesses of Victorian times arose as a direct response to the austerity of the Industrial Revolution, influencing fashion, furnishing and fonts for many years to come.
For us, hand lettering and our other hands-on skills are not a trend – as well as our design and digital services, they have always been a part of our in-house service offering. They are also often considered as part of an original creative strategy, rather than being commissioned externally as simply an execution at a later date.
We also understand the value of the emotional and tactile response they can evoke in our increasingly digital world, and besides – we love getting our hands dirty!
Over the years, our handiwork has included hand-writing 250 calligraphy place cards overnight for a FIFA World Cup dinner, hand-crafting a 3D mobile from a zoological text book, hand-casting human hands in Plaster of Paris for a historic installation, hand-painting hundreds of farm animals on terracotta pots, hand-making a large pavlova for a photo shoot (then hand-eating it), hand-printing letterpress characters for limited edition prints, hand-rolling a Thai-style alphabet and hand-cutting tiny pieces of coloured paper for stop-motion animation.
The process for each of these projects was different and the outcomes were entirely unique – the beauty and authenticity of something hand-made and one-of-a-kind has an added dimension that cannot be generated with digital technology.
We are hands-on at heart.