My High School art teacher Mrs Crick – Bless her name! – gave me a project that literally changed my life. I remember the excitement as pages of research revealed to me the mind and heart of the amazing Mr. William Morris, a leading founder of The Arts & Crafts Movement at the height of The Industrial Revolution in mid 19th century Britain
His poetry was strong, his design aesthetic impeccable, his mastery of craft skills unparalleled and his passion for social reform simply compelling. I was hooked and found a pulse for sustainable design practice that still fuels me today.
As our planet takes an incredulous deep breath in the midst of our human tragedy I can’t help but think Mr. Morris would watch with interest. As the Industrial Revolution inexorably rolled across Europe and North America his clarion call to consider ‘good’ product design always included concern for the makers and their environment. The abuse of factory workers in that era is well documented, as are the statistics for air and water pollution. Historians discuss the pros and cons of the Industrial Revolution yet, according to our encyclopaedia – yes we still use them 😉 – “… most agree it was a great turning point in the history of mankind.”*
Fair trade, handmade production methods have been my realm for over 30 years. Without exception all those I know in this field are excited at how dramatically over this last decade awareness of sustainability issues has increased. Many of us see the time is right to counter many detrimental effects of The Industrial Revolution with The Manual Revolution.
In my last blog I mentioned how we’re at a point to meet this increasing customer awareness and demand,
I believe fair trade, hand made production of all we use and wear has the potential to … creat(e) socioeconomic and environmental impact on an unprecedented scale. It’s not just buying something handmade because it’s beautiful, or fair trade because it helps, it’s scaling things up so we can purchase sustainable everyday goods at realistic prices.
And honestly I believe it’s possible for example, to tool up Bangladesh with the requisite skills and logistics to be a catalyst for The Manual Revolution. The Two-Thirds-World could in no time supply the 1/3 and themselves, with many of the consumables we need … and may even still want, but they’d be sustainable, handmade, fair trade goods with the highest socioeconomic impact and lowest environmental footprint.
This Manual Revolution is already well underway and is primed to equip us and our planet with a balance and rhythm of production much more suited to the needs of a post-covid19 society. Those engaged with Fair Trade have thankfully been on this track for 50+ years, following in the footsteps of our Arts & Crafts Movement heroes.
In upcoming posts I’ll introduce the eco-friendly companies we at Motif partner with and the well designed, sustainable goods we produce for them. Goods I trust my muse William Morris would applaud as meeting his criteria of ‘good’ design.
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* The World Book Encyclopedia volume 10 p.186, Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, 1975