In a world of mass production, the value of objects has drastically declined. The Uk was once a nation that boiled chicken bones to make stock for soup, and darned socks at least twice before there was any thought of throwing them away, but has now become a nation that wastes 7 million tonnes of food a year, and throws out clothing as if they were Kleenex. During the first and second World Wars, families had to ration their food and they would value their possessions. Hand-me-downs would be gratefully accepted and cherished instead of dismissed for something new and exciting. This disposable mindset has taken over throughout the past few decades, but the question is, is mass production to blame?
The word ‘craft’ barely exists anymore, at least not in its original form. In past years, great care would have been taken to ensure that every object was made to a high standard and made to last. Before machinery was capable of cutting precise lines and clean edges, a great pride would have been taken to manually produce objects and household items which meant that every object was unique and individual. Although mass production has allowed for more objects to be made faster, it has taken away their worth as objects in themselves. The value of something automatically decreases when more than one is made available. So when hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of that object is made, then the value drops significantly, not only in price, but in Peoples mentality. For example, if a friend is wearing a coat that you really like, you may ask them where they bought it from, but when they tell you that it was their grandmothers from the 1920’s, the value of it for you, even subconsciously will increase significantly. Humans, from a very early age have an instinctual mindset to challenge themselves to get what they want but can’t have. So when something is made easily available to someone and is very cheap to buy, the lack of challenge when acquiring that object therefore leads to lack of value for it.
Objects that are produced in bulk tend to lack in quality. In the beginning they tended to serve only as a function but over years have there has been a push to design for function as well as aesthetics. In 1919, German architect Walter Gropius founded a school called the Bauhaus for the work of both visual artists and designers to combine. His main aim was to inject the beauty of the arts into the function of design. Throughout this process many practices were combined and discoveries made, a lot of which are still in use today. The fundamental practices of many art schools even now are based on those of the Bauhaus school. This shows the importance of creating designs that combine these aspects, and hopefully in doing so will encourage more and more people to take pride in their possessions.
Lectures by Chris Byrne