Frisian press published about Craft Your Future: ‘Craft back in prestige in times of sustainability’

Conscious customer and craft company must find each other

Leeuwarder Courant, PIER ABE SANTEMA

LEEUWARDEN We have to deal again with things like pake (grandfather) and beppe (grandmother) used to do: buy craft products and use them as long as possible.

Endless buying, throwing away and buying new again is outdated. As a result, the world becomes dotted with waste which is a waste of precious resources. That message was easy to pick up yesterday morning during the mini congress Craft Your Future, which was held as part of the Frisian Day of Sustainability.

During the congress the role that crafts can play in making society more sustainable was zoomed in on. In the past decades of mass production and just as mass consumption, traditional craftsmanship has been put aside as old-fashioned, but now that sentiment is changing, new respect is being created for the sustainable use of materials that characterises many crafts.

As so often, it has to come from both sides. It is not only the customer who has to find the craftsman again, the craft business also has to innovate to respond to the wishes and tastes of today’s consumers.

Speaker Thomas Eyck told how years ago he was asked by Royal Tichelaar in Makkum to link new designers to the ceramics company in order to increase the falling sales. People were no longer interested in the old designs, so new ones were needed.

Eyck showed his international audience, who sat on second-hand chairs in the recycling shop of the Recycle Boulevard in Leeuwarden, among other things a photo of Makkumer blue pottery with butterflies on it. There was a market for that. But not in the Netherlands, by the way. Here they said: ‘what is beautiful, how much does it cost? And then they were gone.”’ Eyck didn’t mince his words:  You need sales to keep the business going. But craft products have a price tag. An object has to cost what it costs”.

Not only craftsmanship can contribute to a more sustainable economy, but also the use of natural and local raw materials does. The Portuguese Ana Mestre told how she had given the cork industry in her country a boost by developing new applications and products for it.

Portugal has one of the largest forests in the world with trees whose bark produces cork. After peeling, the bark grows back and after nine years, cork can be used again. The tree remains intact. The material is traditionally used a lot for corks on wine bottles, but in the production 50 percent becomes waste.

Mestre thought this was a sin and wondered whether she could create anything valuable with the unused cork grains by means of design. After much experimentation – and many failures, Mestre says – new ways of making cork products emerged. It led to the creation of her company Corque, which mainly makes furniture. There were plenty of buyers, so the cork industry was enthusiastic.

Prior to the mini congress, a Trojan horse made of waste wood and plastic litter on a pontoon on the Harlingervaart began a trip through the Leeuwarder canals. Students from Friese Poort, Friesland College and NHL Stenden Hogeschool wanted to make the public aware of the growing mountain of plastic waste. Passers-by could exchange their PET bottle with them for a reusable drinking bottle.