There's nothing quite like a “Matt” finish!
Wood News|March - April 2021
The Industrial Revolution in 1760 transformed economies, which had been based on agriculture and handicrafts, into economies based on large-scale industry, mechanised manufacturing, and the factory system.
ROY THOMAS

ROY THOMAS

The Industrial Revolution in 1760 transformed economies, which had been based on agriculture and handicrafts, into economies based on large-scale industry, mechanised manufacturing, and the factory system.

New machines, new power sources, and new ways of organising work made existing industries more productive and efficient. The downside, however, was that it spelt the death knell for artisans and craftsmen, threatening their livelihood and very existence.

But it was not as if a tectonic change happened immediately. The two forms of manufacture continued to co-exist uneasily with each other, with artisanal craft retaining a niche for itself in a world that was still ‘genteel’ and placed value on the finer things of life.

Till then, in Europe, learning a trade was a very structured process that revolves around the Guild, an organisation that dates back to the 12th Century. The system was a unique way of conveying knowledge and know-how linked to the trades that worked with stone, wood, metal, leather, textiles and food.

Its originality lay in its synthesis of varied methods and processes of transmitting knowledge and was popularly perceived as the last movement to practice and teach certain ancient craft techniques and to deliver true excellence in craft training.

Magnificent obsession

The world is on the cusp of the fifth industrial revolution, which introduces the use of connected machinery popularly known as the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and could include robotics, machine learning, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and, more importantly, 3D technology.

These take production to new, unimaginable levels of design and sophistication and breathtaking scalability, with very little human interface.

In the face of such a visceral and frontal onslaught, do standalone artisans and craftsmen stand any chance of survival? Is it the beginning of the end for them? Will they be just a faded memory of a time and era gone by?

Fortunately for people who always treasure works of art that embody beauty and soul and the uniqueness it stands for, there will always be craftsmen who will swim against the tide to bring out intricate and outstanding works that can never be replicated by a machine.

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