I have been fascinated with handmade products for a long time. During my full-time employed times, I have been working for an initiative called "Handmade in Germany" and then for one of Germany's oldest and most renowned Porcelain manufacturers, the "Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin". While I was working in an office, my favorite place in KPM Berlin's historical buildings was the actual porcelain production.
When you look at the production process, whether it is the casting, shaping and turning of porcelain or the weaving of yarn on traditional wooden looms, it gives you a good idea of how much manual labor and ultimately dedication goes into each and every piece.
Now, we can talk about whether handmade means better quality, but my fascination goes beyond the mere quality aspect. Since the industrialization our society has been obsessed with machines, with predictability, calculation, science. I am currently reading a book written by Fabian Scheidler („Der Stoff aus dem wir sind“ in German, which roughly translates as „The substance that we are made of“) where the author draws a witty connection between a technocratic worldview and the climate crisis. One paragraph that resonated with me was this one, that I will try to translate from German:
„The ideology of separation, which claims that the world resembles a construction kit, is too fundamental for our economic system to give it up. Our economic system needs this type of world, of freely available and combinable resources, that you can tear out and exploit without any consideration of their ecological context. It also needs atomized people, also freely combinable and deployable, preferably with few social and cultural relationships which could undermine their usability.“
Wow. I had to read it a few times to let it sink in. And I realized that this is exactly what I love about handmade, culturally embedded products, passed on for generations. It is context, purpose and wholeness. It is community and care. What I want to do with Atelier Maqui is to offer products that have been handmade in community and as part of a tradition. Products whose added value is created at their source by artisans that are proud of their craft and make them with the utmost dedication and care.
For me personally, that is what handmade stands for. Do I think handmade means better quality? Sometimes, yes. But do I believe that handmade stands for connection rather than separation? For ecological and social context rather than exploitation and random resource puzzles? Absolutely, yes, without a doubt.