Teresa G. Georgallis. Digitally Handmade: Mapping out a maker’s approach to emerging technologies

The craft sector is undergoing a transformation as a driver for sustainable development. Referring to craft, may lead to notions of cultural value, heritage, material awareness and intergenerational exchange. The current craft revival is a predicted movement, directed towards alternative and sustainable progress. Handmade processes, traditional techniques and ancestral practices encourage a thoughtful interaction with our environment and ourselves. How do we approach digital technology to serve the craft sector in a meaningful manner? Can we ensure the future of heritage crafts with the aid of digital technologies?

Craft practitioners, artisans and traditional makers are, in this case, non-machines. The Foldable Loom (FL) project suggests a symbiotic relationship between makers and emerging technologies. It is a product developed by textile professionals in digital fabrication labs, re-creating a loom that is portable, accessible and complex enough to serve the textile industry. The project objective is to introduce an educational design-make tool that promotes and preserves cultural heritage whilst exhibiting a successful example of innovation and tradition deriving from interdisciplinary exchange.

Merging digital technologies and craft skills allows makers to explore a transition phase between the two settings. In this instance, the design process is led by traditional practices and assisted by technological developments. The FL project presents a design journey informed by a highly-specialized craft, resulting in a product designed and produced by fabrication machines. Understanding craft as a master skill and recognising technology as a useful tool, presents possibilities that propel craftspeople, designers and makers into new territories.

Designing, prototyping and producing through craft-based methodology – not only for physical objects but also for ideas and concepts – reassess design choices and ideas, with a fluid intersection that is constantly shifting as we move, change and exist.

Teresa Georgallis graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2011, specializing in textile design. Her professional portfolio of work consists of textile-focused fashion projects, multidisciplinary artistic collaborations, leading and managing a design studio, running a textile and fashion accessories label and acting as a Senior Lecturer / Pathway Leader in textiles. As a textile designer, she has worked in numerous roles within the industry with a core expertise in textile design-making, product developing & sampling, event managing, workshop organizing and teaching at various levels.