The latest issue of Make Magazine has a great Welcome page (p.11) from editor Shawn Connally. Yeah, I know – you’re thinking, of all the great projects and articles that pack that magazine, you’re excited about the Welcome Page??
Well, it’s just that he says something very thoughtful that many of us probably don’t think about too much. It’s the idea that it’s OK to be “ordinary, alright folk”. Connally points out that our “mainstream culture tends not only to highlight our shortcomings, but also to celebrate only celebrities – the biggest, brightest, richest, wildest, prettiest, most handsome.” It’s so true. We get caught up with images of perfect extreme makeover houses, fast cars and the slickest gadgets. This sort of view emphasizes perfection and ridicules faults and imperfections. But what makes us all different individuals are OUR imperfections. This can extend to our personal items and objects. No doubt the popularity of the DIY and MIY movement is due to people backlashing against mass prefabricated products, sterile and devoid of character or history. Things that are crafted by our hands, or by someone we know or admire, show the imperfections and imprints of human error. Most handcrafted or DIY-made things also have a story behind it of how it came to be, often with problems or hitches that happen along the way, changing or altering the object in some slight way.
I would even go so far to say that the feeling and history behind handmade objects extends to personally designed objects. While these things may not be literally handmade, they are still unique with “imperfections” and imprints of the designer, along with the story of how the design came to be.
While “mass customization” is trying to incorporate that individualism factor, it still doesn’t get close to the sense of fulfillment and achievement in making or designing something from scratch. Designing, crafting and making things really does celebrate “ordinary, alright folk.”