Moving from fast, quantity production to slow, quality production
Industrial production in the beginning meant that goods were cheaper and more available to everyone. This was great to begin with but the ripple of higher productivity became a tidal wave. More and more goods were produced for ever-lower prices but the quality of both the production and the consumption became inhuman. What I mean is that workers became alienated from their productions whilst consumers became alienated from their producers.
Very well crafted and handmade objects have much more meaning and character than a mass produced whatever from a largely automated factory in somewhere like China. Slow quality production will not be low-tech but it will be slow-tech, meaning small-scale, simple, smart and solar. This type of technology is called ‘Appropriate Technology’.
Appropriate technology is defined as any tool, process, idea, or practice that enhances human well-being through the satisfaction of real human needs. A technology is deemed to be appropriate when it is compatible with local, cultural, and economic conditions and uses locally available resources, with tools and processes maintained and operated by local people. Appropriate technology should be self-sustaining, cause little cultural disruption, and should be relevant to the well-being of the local population.
Appropriate technology has been promoted in undeveloped countries as a way for them to ‘industrialise’ without high capital investment. However, it is also a way for communities in developed countries to move to a sustainable, localised, low-energy economy. Read more about Lean Technology »
The rise of craft production
The rising interest in craft goods comes as consumers increasingly seek out artisanal products. Consumers now desire products with authenticity and provenance, wanting to engage with who, how and where something has been made.
The benefits of craft production
The systemic change away from industrial-scale production will provide the following benefits of craft production:
- There will be more jobs overall, and jobs on average will be more meaningful. There is more meaning because jobs will be more ‘hand-ons’ and less abstract. Jobs will have more value and less bullshit as well as more personal connection and less alienation.
- They tend to be made locally for local consumption. This is good for the local economy and it reduces freight and fuel consumption.
- They are made to be savoured. Preferring quality rather than quantity will tend to reduce overall consumption and therefore production. There will be less junk.
- They are more environmentally friendly. By-and-large, small-scale production is less wasteful and is, therefore, less energy and resource intensive.
- There is more variety. This is real variety, not just essentially the same product with a different label.
- Craft goods have more of a human ‘soul’. Real craftspeople make them with passion and care, not the faceless precision of an automated factory.