One might have thought this sector would be the furthest thing from their thoughts, but in fact it’s not. Young people are rediscovering a passion for skilled craftsmanship, which perfectly aligns with their quest for meaning and authenticity. With Première Vision Paris presenting some 30 ateliers with rare know-hows at Maison d’Exceptions, novelist and journalist Carmen Bramly interprets for us her generation’s relationship with arts and crafts.
How do you think your generation perceives fine craftwork?
With respect, I’d say. These are professions we’d consider noble, unlike all those bullshit jobs, because they make sense, they require immense know-how, time and passion. In fact, the young generation is actually fascinated by it. During the Think Tanks we organised with Twenty Magazine for luxury brands, the panel was unanimously won over by videos focusing on craftsmanship posted on social networks. They were really hypnotized by all the details involving the detailed stitching and materials…
Do you think it plays a pivotal role in purchasing decisions?
Young people have limited purchasing power, and can’t yet afford this kind of product. However, as soon as they have the means, I think they’ll obviously turn to fine craftsmanship. And when it is accessible, young people do recognize its value. The other day, a friend of mine fell in love with a ring made by hand by an elderly Cuban. The ring sold for 10 euros, but my friend thought the price too low given the work that went into it, and insisted on paying 40. I have to add that this friend comes from more of a lower middle class background, not from an upscale professional background, which proves how strong the feeling is. Artisanship is highly valued by young people because it touches on all the values they care about.
What values does it represent?
For young people, craftsmanship is a new way of life, a more responsible way to live and consume. We surround ourselves with objects that make sense, that have a history. In addition, artisanal trades are increasingly represented in pop culture. In a lot of TV series and movies, there are characters who restore furniture, and make their own clothes or jewellery. Even in New Girl, the main character knits. All this fits into a slightly hipster Youth Culture, as found in Brooklyn or Los Angeles. In the film While We’re Young by Noah Baumbach, young people listen to vinyl, wear exclusively vintage clothing, make everything themselves, a mix of slow tech and high tech.
Your generation buys and resells a lot of fashion items. Given this context, is fine craftsmanship also viewed as an investment?
I think that in Europe we’re too attached to these products to resell them like an ordinary pair of sneakers. We feel responsible for them, as if they’d been entrusted to us by their makers, the craftsmen. There’s a talisman side to them too, as if hand labour had given them a mystical dimension. On the other hand, that kind of monetizing is routine in the U.S. or Asia.
Brands have always built part of their communications around an idea of craftsmanship. How should they evolve this to reach your generation?
By communicating even more on social networks through aspirational videos. What young people value most is the creative process. They want to get to the heart of the workshops, discover portraits of craftsmen. They prefer to see a product being made than a product being worn. You could also create events around high-end artisanship. A feather-working workshop in La Villette, with a DJ set and a bar where you could come with friends, with your little brothers and sisters… Transmission and mentoring are key values for young people. They function experientially, and craftsmanship totally corresponds to this way of thinking, to seeking knowledge through experience.
Maison d’Exceptions at the show :
– The space dedicated to ultra-creativity will bring together exceptional artisans, rare know-hows and spectacular creations. By accreditation only.
– New : The “Villa Kujoyama” exhibition, presenting samples of textile creations developed by the residents of Villa Kujoyama in Japan. In collaboration with the Musée Guimet and the Musée du Quai Branly. Open to all.