Handcraft, companies and education. Reflecting on this partnership in the Portuguese context

Claudia Albino, Rui Roda


Design schools are herein presented as privileged local vertices, parts of a global brain, that is, as centers that accommodate research which is articulated with local culture, tangible with the observation of craftsmanship in dialogue with design’s performance. Bearing this in mind, we present some research and teaching experiences in Portugal, through emblematic micro experiences articulated with the practice and knowledge that find their value in craftsmanship – Old Knowledge. New Tendencies; Lightness, Reanimating the Filigree; 2nd Skin Cork Jewellery; Meanings of Matter in Design, Alentejo – which have allowed the translation of the traditional knowledge of certain places and its conversion into reality. Liliana Guerreiro and Corque Design are successful companies that combine the work of a designer with craftsmen, taking advantage of the idiosyncrasies of a local dialogue which is extendable to a global world. In this study, the articulation of craftsmanship with the teaching of Design is regarded as a place for positive experiences, in the sense that this articulation produces a vector directed to the amplification of cultural values, to the underlying Genius Loci in places. The study of these experiences has confirmed the existence of an excellent opportunity built on the fact that craftsmanship in Portugal is a positive practice, implicitly and historically associated to the nature and construction of its places. This is a reality that can be observed and perceived by a signifi cant portion of Portuguese production, also materialized in the industrial manufacturing clusters. This production, despite being considered frail in its organizational and economic structure, consists of small workshops, sometimes informal ones, of low technology but high quality in its manual work, where knowledge is conveyed through generations. In this context, the aforementioned experiences are evidence of a strong dialogue between designer and tradition; a dialoguing experience with local manufacture is expressed through innovative products. Whilst presenting these experiences we shall conduct a critical consideration, trying to understand the difficult dialogue between design, craftsmanship and the valorization of the territory.

Key words: meta-design, craftsmanship, cultural diversity, experience, company.

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