The first in a series of occasional articles in which we celebrate the power of the maker and the craftsman.
A core platform – practically, symbolically and mythologically – of many luxury brands, the act of creating something permanent in an all-too-often oblivious, ephemeral, digital environment is beautiful and important.
In ancient Greek, the word poet means “maker”
Today’s ‘material’ poets—parfumiers, woodworkers, jewellers, wine makers, fabric designers, printers, potters, blacksmiths - transforming the material of this earth - the lump of clay, the grain of wood, the coloured stone, the grape, the vine, the fragrant essence, the wool – into something unique and very human.
For example The Bladesmith. Yes, very niche.
But remember a key theme to a good luxury story is the long hours spent making an object but also the process itself. Making a remarkable - if sometimes eccentric - investment in time and tradecraft. Luxury craftspeople are inspired by intense curiosity for the intricate nature of their product speciality, the potential of new different materials, and techniques.
Characteristically this motivation often goes well beyond market demands and sometimes is seen as ‘extreme’ or an ‘unbalanced’ desire for total perfection – but useful in a business sense. We go to the ends of the earth for you. Literally.
Zen and the art of luxury
In an age where people have a miniscule concentration span there is something wonderful and Zen-like on this intense focus on one small speciality. In this spirit, some luxury is not especially concerned with practicality but with the unusual, the non-essential and the exclusive mastery of a craft and brilliant expertise is showed by outstanding precision, attention to detail and stunning finishes.
Knife work if you can get it
Bob Kramer is one of the most revered bladesmiths in the world—playing David to the Goliath cutlery manufacturers of Germany and Japan.
A Master Bladesmith, he underwent five years of practice and study. His life is focussed on steel recipes, forging together different metal blocks and powders to ennoble iron with just the right blend of nickel, vanadium, or some other selection of chemistry’s basic elements.
He is continually engaged in a restless, almost insatiable search for essences; for the soul of craftsmanship; for perfection in a household tool.
How sharp is sharp?
Western knives tend to be the softest. A sharpening steel doesn’t actually sharpen; it just realigns, or “hones” the edge.
Traditional Japanese knives, by contrast are sharpest: the blade’s profile tends to be thinner, because Japanese cuisine revolves around comparatively soft foods (primarily fish and vegetables). If Japanese knives are restricted to such forgiving foods, and used carefully, they will remain sharp far longer than Western knives do.
This partly explains why Japanese knives have been slow to catch on in Western kitchens. Americans simply eat more roughly than the Japanese do. We carve steaks. Divide chickens. Make sandwiches and generally treat a cutting board like a chopping block.
A small example of the passion luxury craftspeople feel about their speciality.
It’s something we understand too:
Anew - a sharp luxury branding agency
From music, media, wine and climate-tech to food, fin-tech, fabrics, famous brands and start-ups, and many more in between, Anew are a London-based luxury branding agency which can deliver what makes luxury brands more valued.
Whether it’s insight from market research, strategic luxury brand thinking, a new brand name and logo design, messaging, online and offline content or luxury website development, we can help.
You can read more about us here
And if you’d like to discuss a potential brand strategy project, do get in touch
With thanks and respect to The Craftsmanship Initiative