Natalie Chanin, owner and designer of Alabama Chanin
Contemporary dialogues regarding sustainability often focus on chemicals, materials, improved design, and manufacturing processes—and how these impact the environment. Without question, these are significant concerns. Looking closer into the depths and complexities of these materials, however, leads us to realize that sustainability also relies on the human skills necessary to manipulate materials into usable objects.
MADE BY HAND
In striving to build truly sustainable communities, we must learn to respect and honor the relationships between materials, products, and individuals—skilled workers and artisans, who keep our traditions, manufacturing processes, and “Living Arts” alive.
The Living Arts consist of crafts and traditions that have been maintained and developed since the beginning of time. Couture garments have always been made by hand. In our more developed countries of the world today, the mechanization of growing, building, and making has markedly pushed the need and demand for handmade to the side-lines.
In the search for cost-efficiency, modern society has forgotten basic skills.
Modern society has, in many cultures, forgotten and neglected the underlying importance of these basic skills in the search for cost-efficiency. Growing our own food, making a dress or table, or fashioning a tool for ourselves and our communities is commonly a mystery.