“It’s really the best form of self-expression one can have. You’re making something that’s all you. DIY has influenced people to look at the artistic expression of fashion, rather than the monetary value of it.” Kirsten Nunez founder of DIY blog Studs and Pearls (Cnn.com, April 6, 2011)


Description

The great revival of interest in the handmade, the raw and the unique reflect an assumed desire for aesthetic and expertise in the midst of an industrialised mass-market era where all objects look alike. Consumers are in demand for traditional methods because they think they are synonymous with authenticity and reliability, guarantors of better quality. In terms of packaging design, the “hand-made” formula partly expresses itself through raw materials such as paper, cardboard, metal, wood or straw, reminiscent of artisanal fabrics or processes. Companies with products ranging from floral bouquets to mass-market whiskey are working the artisanal angle with their packaging, tempting North American and European aesthetes with graphics and structures that appear to be — or actually are — made by hand. Consumers who value craftsmanship in its myriad forms are drawn to packaging with skillful handwork and designer touches, especially graphics and structural styling that make the offering one of a kind. The product itself may or may not be artisanal, but the right packaging can give it that halo — and appeal to the craft-loving demographic.

In 2012, 13 million barrels of craft beer were produced, up more than 71% from 2006. In dollar terms, craft beer now represents 10.2% of the U.S. beer market, and a report from IBIS World predicts spending on craft brews will grow to $3.9 billion this year.

The child-like hand-written style also brings an additional touch of sincerity and innocence and displays a non-modified reality. Also, consumers are showing a growing interest for craft production. This trend is particularly visible through the explosion of the craft-beer category, which has led to a veritable tsunami of small-batch beers. In 2012, 13 million barrels of craft beer were produced, up more than 71% from 2006. In dollar terms, craft beer now represents 10.2% of the U.S. beer market, and a report from IBIS World predicts spending on craft brews will grow to $3.9 billion this year.

Expertise & excellence

In the luxury goods sector in particular but also for niche artisan brands, product craftsmanship delivers a genuine savoir-faire and strong expertise, which resonates with values of quality and excellence. Handmade work requires great control of one’s gestures and the level of quality results from craftsmen’s deep experience. Both passion and intensity are in very much present in the process in order to obtain the highest quality and create unparalleled aesthetics. For high-end brands, exceptional talent and quality of materials are either inherent or outwardly recognized.

In the luxury goods sector in particular but also for niche artisan brands, product craftsmanship delivers a genuine savoir-faire and strong expertise, which resonate with values of quality and excellence.

Exceptional ability is the prime concern. The trend is also about connoisseurship in an area of aesthetic interest. Consumers seek out these experts to immerse themselves in an education about wine, antiques, vintage posters, mid-century furnishings, ethnic cooking and more. Most luxury brands have recently opened the doors of their workshops in order to give more value to their artisans’ know-how, promoting it as a genuine and precious resource.

Personal style

The return to handcrafted objects, services and activities matches a consumers’ need to display a personal and unique style, partly as a natural backlash to a mass-marketed consumer society. Many feel bound by cold technology and the relentless pace of life; they welcome the chance to indulge their aesthetic and manual senses. Consumers have a passion and quest for the real, searching for unique artisans, authentic experiences and genuine possessions. Instead of overspending money in global mainstream stores that sell industrially produced items, consumers increasingly go for things and activities that are both more inspirational and that fit better their personal style as if they were tailor-made.

The return to handcrafted objects, services and activities matches a consumers’ need to display a personal and unique style, partly as a natural backlash to a mass-marketed consumer society.

DIY activities, including fashion, beauty or crafts projects, allow people to express their creativity and manual skills through the production of one-of-a-kind objects, furniture or even clothes that are unique and represent their individual personalities.

Featured examples

Etsy x Dossier

Credit: Dossierjournal.com

Credit: Dossierjournal.com

In 2013, Etsy tested a wholesale program at Nordstrom and West Elm. By featuring select Etsy sellers in its At Home department, Nordstrom provided customers with the opportunity to buy artisan products. West Elm first shared the marketplace’s handmade items in its catalogs and online, but has since expanded the effort in-store with “Etsy for West Elm” displays of items from local Etsy craftspeople. And in August 2014, the handmade-goods site officially launched the initiative, marking a shift from functioning as an online-only platform for small sellers to a service that helps artisans grow their businesses and offline shoppers discover well-made brands. Etsy also helps promote the craftspeople that are featured in their Dossier journal, in order to favor meet-and-greets between artisans and shoppers in the shop.
France United States, August 2014

Masqué Collection

Credit: Masque.com.br

Credit: Masque.com.br

Style-minded affluent Brazilian women who enjoy flaunting one-of-a-kind exclusive footwear now have several options from newer designers specializing in handmade shoes. In São Paulo, at least five designers make customized handmade shoes using unique materials, from snake leather to emeralds and sapphires. What’s more, some designers also associate with Brazilian haute couture brands. Adriana Pedroso, who designs the Masqué Collection, creates footwear using jewelry pieces and glass beads. The Tatiana Loureiro brand, which specializes in “bailarinas” (ballet slippers), sells about 1,000 pairs a month. The most expensive models, decorated with precious stones, cost about R$1,000 (US$420).
Brazil Brazil, March 2014

J&B Limited Tattoo Edition

Credit: jbwhisky.fr

Credit: jbwhisky.fr

The J&B Limited Tattoo Edition taps into Millennial and Gen X ink culture with hand-drawn tattoo art on bottles of J&B Scotch. Created in a run of only 25 bottles, the packaging features full-body labels made from skin-tone latex and painstakingly decorated by Parisian tattoo artist Sébastien Mathieu. Each label took about 20 hours to create. Secondary packaging continues the theme, with each bottle packaged in a wooden box sporting tattoo art.
United States of America United States, February 2014

Handmade wooden DVD box

Credit: Thedieline.com

Credit: Thedieline.com

Elsewhere in Europe, one-of-a-kind handmade wooden DVD boxes for the short art video “Paths of Light” blur the line between art and packaging, adding decorative styling to disc storage. Nelson Fernandes, a.k.a. Zina Caramelo, a Portuguese multimedia artist, directed the “Paths of Light” video. For each box in the limited edition of 100 DVDs, artisans cut and laser-printed the wood and then manually collaged and sanded it
Portugal Portugal, April 2014

Surf Grooming Kit

Credit: Themake.co

Credit: Themake.co

The limited edition Surf Grooming Kit designed by Studio Point and Montreal-based TheMake Co. uses raw wood as a packaging material. The kit holds various items for surfboard maintenance, including board wax, wax-residue remover, a wax comb/scraper and a cotton cloth. The package is designed as an open-sided box consisting of two sheets of wood. Die cuts in the wood hold the kit’s products in place, and oversize screws in the four corners secure the package. Silk-screened graphics and a hand-numbered label on each kit complete the crafty design. The 25 kits in the limited edition sold out quickly, but Make Co. is planning another production run.
United States of America United States & Canada, March 2014

Made by Guru

Credit: Made by Guru’s Facebook page

Credit: Made by Guru’s Facebook page

Dutch startup Made by Guru is a handmade to order platform that lets online users place orders directly with skilled craftspeople. The website addresses people who love handmade product and craft art but don’t have the time or skills to bring an idea to life. With Made by Guru, they can make a specific request to professional “gurus”. To do so, they need to upload info and images to give a better idea of what they want. “Gurus” respond, pitching for the job by indicating their skill level, showing examples of previous projects and stating their availability. Consumers then select their preferred crafter and later receive the product – from knitters to 3D printers- at home upon payment.
Netherlands Netherlands, September 2014

Business & Marketing guidelines

1

Engage your consumers with the manufacturing process leading to the final product. Take advantage of the fact that the culture surrounding artisanal food and drink often goes beyond the love for the product.

2

Bring as much information as possible about the heritage of your brand and the know-how of the artisans/manufacturers.

3

Associate artisanal making with quality of your products – even if consumers usually make the association themselves.

4

Focus on personal creativity in order to add extra value to the product.

5

Venture into handmade packaging only for limited editions. Handcrafted methods are not practical for regular production runs of mass-market products.

6

Crafty packaging live on, after the product is gone, providing both aesthetic pleasure and a gentle reminder of the brand.

Summary

  • The great revival of interest in the handmade, the raw and the unique reflects an assumed desire for aesthetic and expertise in the midst of an industrialised mass-market era where all objects look alike.
  • In the luxury goods sector in particular but also for niche artisan brands, traditional craftsmanship delivers a genuine savoir-faire and strong expertise, which resonates with values of quality and excellence.
  • The return to handcrafted objects, services and activities matches consumers’ need of display a personal and unique style, partly as a natural backlash to a mass-marketed consumer society.
  • In 2012, 13 million barrels of craft beer were produced, up more than 71% from 2006. In dollar terms, craft beer now represents 10.2% of the American beer market, and a report from IBIS World predicts spending on craft brews will grow to $3.9 billion this year.

Experts that we recommend

pascale-mussard Pascale Mussard
Creative director of l’atelier petit h by Hermès, recycling unused or sold materials
philippe-schiesser Philippe Schiesser
Eco-conception consultant & founder of Écodesign Fab Lab
elizabeth-blair Elizabeth Blair
Senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News & author of
“Etsy Crafts A Strategy For Staying Handmade And Profitable” (NPR, 2012)
rob-kalin Rob Kalin
Co-founder and ex-CEO of online marketplace Etsy, focused on handmade or vintage items