The Importance of Craftsmanship

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  • May 5, 2020

One thing the current crisis is teaching us at Pigmentti is the value of a slower, more thoughtful way of living. As decorative artists, we’ve always been advocates of craftsmanship and keeping centuries-old techniques alive. Right now, it seems like more and more people are recognising the importance of this, too.


Relief sculpture using Scagliola, by Pigmentti

Decorative arts and craftsmanship are by their very nature slow and steady. They use techniques that take years to learn and develop, which means the process of creation can never be rushed. Artisans and craftspeople are also incredibly respectful of the materials and tools they use because they appreciate their central role in connecting past and present.


Relief sculpture using Marmorino, by Pigmentti

Last month we talked about how the Plague gave rise to the Renaissance, a period in art history that we draw inspiration from. We expressed our opinions on how the collective uncertainty we’re experiencing right now might help to reshape how we interact with the world around us. Part of that, we think, could involve people turning to the independent, artisanal, and traditional. With that in mind, this month we’re taking a look at why craftsmanship and the decorative arts could now be more valuable than ever, and how designers can best embrace them.


Noel & Paolo sketching at the workshop

Craftsmanship is uniqueness

Interior designers often tell us they work with artisans and craftspeople because the result is always unique. In fact, their brand and business have come to rely on them. So what is it about working with an artisan that enables designers to achieve this level of originality? At Pigmentti we think it’s about experimentation and rule-breaking, particularly an artisans’ ability to open designers’ eyes to new aesthetics and techniques.


The Panel Collection by Pigmentti

It’s worth noting that you generally have to know the rules well to break them. We mentioned before that artisans and craftspeople spend years fine-tuning their technique, which means they know when to push the boundaries and when to keep things traditional. This gives designers the chance to experiment with styles they might not have previously been aware of, or felt comfortable with. But they’re doing so while safe in the knowledge that the artisan knows the limits of their technique.


Work by Walter Cipriani & Kerstin Brätsch, exhibited at MoMA

Craftsmanship is a desire for beauty

Humans have evolved to find pleasure in beauty, and craftspeople distil the beauty of the world around them into something physical. In doing so, they develop a unique relationship with their materials.


Work by Joseph Walsh

When you add age-old techniques into the mix, the results are timeless. These creations blend past and present to tell the story of a moment in history. They appeal to our universal appreciation of all things beautiful and help us to see the world through someone else’s eyes. There’s a specific kind of beauty in the slowness of artisanal creation, and in the ability of the arts to soothe of high-speed society. Right now that’s perhaps more apparent than ever.


Botanical relief sculpture by Pigmentti

Craftsmanship is bespoke

We mentioned before that craftsmanship results in uniqueness because each creation is created by hand, using mostly natural materials. More than that, though, craftsmanship adds an entirely new dimension to the idea of ‘bespoke’.


Work by Caleb Woodard Furniture

Artisans spend years honing their craft, so they’re experts in paying attention to detail. This allows them to tailor their creations to the specific needs of the client. If you follow our work at Pigmentti, you’ll know that Scagliola is one of our most-used materials for bas-relief sculpture projects. It has been used for centuries because of its malleability, and its properties allow us to work it into extraordinary levels of detail. Working with an artisan or decorative artist allows designers to commission pieces that are bespoke down to the microscopic details.


Relief sculpture by Pigmentti

Craftsmanship is heritage

As you know, preserving traditional techniques is at the heart of our work at Pigmentti. We draw inspiration from Renaissance maestros and the techniques they used. That’s because, for us, craftsmanship is a way of connecting the heritage of the past with our experience of the present.


Trompe L’oeil by Pigmentti

People can understand themselves and their place in the contemporary world better if they understand what came before. And without knowledge and techniques passed from generation to generation, we wouldn’t be able to do that. Choosing the artisanal and the hand-crafted not only helps to keep traditions alive for future generations, but it also gives designers’ clients an artistic legacy of their own.


Work by Miriam Ellner

Craftsmanship is humanity

Earlier in this post, we mentioned that craftspeople work in dialogue with their materials and the world around them. The end result – no matter the material a craftsperson uses – is the expression of that person in that specific moment.


In our high-speed world of consumption and automation, craftsmanship is comforting in its humanity. It’s personal, and it’s representative of us as individuals and a collective. In uncertain times like these, it’s also a way of sharing our stories and musing on the future. What could be more essential – and more human – than that?


Work by Simone Bodmer-Turner


Among other things, we’re hoping that from this collective uncertainty comes a renewed sense of understanding and appreciation for decorative arts and craftsmanship. Human connection and expression are central to our survival. Preserving the techniques of the past and using them to tell stories of the present helps us to make sense of the world. Never has that been quite so important.

For more information on how we can work together, please contact us here.

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