Design USA: Contemporary Innovation


Craft—the practice of making things—has enjoyed a resurgence in design since the late 1990s. This stems from our desire for unique works, nostalgia for objects that reflect the natural world, and appreciation of the sense of the hand, in contrast to the pervasive precision of mass-produced goods. But it is also largely due to changing cultural perspectives. Recent advances in technology have allowed designers to experiment using new, exciting materials. Not long ago, the making of craft conformed to well-established traditions, and was considered distinct from the creation of design. Today, the difference is not as simple. Techniques and methods usually associated with craft are being used by designers to expand the boundaries of design. Similarly, many contemporary fabrication and distribution practices in design have been adopted in the domain of craft.

The works selected for this section illustrate what craft represents—the attention to detail, the exquisite construction, the unique perspective of the maker. Ralph Rucci’s garments require up to six months of painstaking labor; Nike’s Zoom Victory Spike looks like a piece of infra-structure while evoking the humble embroidery machine that sews it together; autobiography has played an intimate role in the graphic work of Stefan Sagmeister.