Handful of Salt Online Mag LaunchesAuthor:Mary Jo Bowling
This week the blog Handful of Salt morphed into an online magazine. The SF-based venture will still cover the intersection of contemporary craft, design and art (editor Regina Connell calls it DesignCraft), but there are some big (and slick) changes in store. Here at CH+D, we value craftsmanship and design, so we asked Connell a few questions about the new look and feel of the popular brand.
Now that Handful of Salt is relaunching as an online magazine, how will it be different?
It will be different in three ways:
1. It will cover global DesignCraft, instead of just the U.S. (but the emphasis will remain on the U.S.).
2. We’ll have more features about what’s going on in the world of DesignCraft, and what we call the “eco-system”: institutions of all sizes that support craft in general and DesignCraft in particular. We’ll also have features that focus on the intersection between design and technology, and things like book reviews.
3. Turning Handful of Salt from a linear blog into an online magazine makes it easier for the site to be used as a real resource for DesignCraft, which the movement needs. People will be better able to navigate and browse by media, subject, or even designer/maker.
What is DesignCraft?
It’s work that falls at the intersection of design, contemporary craft, and art. We cover design-driven, craft-based work that’s both functional and decorative.
(Ceramic works by Sara Paloma, courtesy of Handful of Salt)
Why does the movement merit its own magazine?
Great question. And it’s something you might not need to ask in Europe where contemporary craft, for the most part, tends to be more design-driven than it is in the U.S. The craft institutions, publications and enthusiast sites in the U.S. tend to be more traditionally focused, with a lot of that focus on what I call “craft for craft’s sake.” Yes, they cover younger, more cutting edge and design-oriented makers, but it feels limited. It’s time for there to be a real focus on the intersection of design and craft.
And speaking of intersections, when I interview people who do DesignCraft, they have a very clear sense that they fit in a distinct, hybrid category: not just a crafts person, not just a designer, not just an artist, but all three. They’re frustrated when they’re pigeonholed. We start talking about tearing down those boundaries (and who came up with them anyway), and their eyes light up.
What is the place of DesignCraft in the modern home?
It can be anything from decorative to functional, from the vase on the table to the table itself (and even the floor the table sits on). And it fits in all kinds of homes, by the way. I believe that because the hand is at the heart of the work, the sense of humanness and connectedness with materiality that’s inherent in the work can unify disparate styles. Every house, of whatever era, needs warmth and soul and beauty–and DesignCraft has all three in spades.
(Glass artist Joe Cariati in his studio, courtesy of Handful of Salt)
Why do you focus so much on the process of creating the works?
Because we want consumers and fans to connect the story of the maker (and their inspirations) and not just the product or the outcome. The work of the hand and the inspiration of the maker are actually intrinsic parts of the value of the product. Plus, don’t we all love it when we can tell a story about the person who made the railing, the vase, the table, the chair? It brings a deeper meaning to the things we surround ourselves with, and in this throwaway culture, we think that’s a good thing.
The other thing is that craft is in large part about process, and developing deep expertise in your chosen metier. We celebrate both the experts and talented newcomers…and the thing that unites them is a deep desire to be really, really good at what they’re doing.
And finally, anyone who’s made anything (or has fantasized about it) loves going behind the scenes into someone else’s studio and workroom. We’re all voyeurs.
Tell us about a new DesignCraft artist we haven’t hear of, but that we will want to collect?
Oh this is hard. Matthias Pliessnig (wood) blows my mind, as does San Francisco’s Nik Weinstein (glass). Peggy Loudon, who is a ceramicist up in Arcata, makes the most beautiful vessels, both classic and incredibly modern (and completely unique). I’m also a big fan of work by ReCheng Tsang who works at the intersection of ceramic and installation art. But I could go on and on….
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