We live in a culture where virtually everything is mass-produced in some distant factory by technologically advanced machines that use industrial processes that we cannot even begin to understand. Sadly, this production system disconnects us from the objects we come into contact with everyday. As the objects begin to lose its meaning, it will easily be replaced by something newer and trendier. Luckily, Aurelie Tu’s Portland, Oregon based company, Crafted Systems, rejects the mass-produced and reinvents the meaning of handcraft in their collection of beautifully handmade felt products. Through her travels and exploration of different cultural handcrafts, she was inspired to marry traditional hand techniques with modern aesthetics.
Their collection includes a variety of vessels, rugs, wall decor, table runners and light fixtures. Each product is made from 100% natural wool felt from Germany. There’s just something about wool felt that I really like and I can probably go on with a long list of its advantages. But here’s the catch, all the pieces are hand-interlocked, using no glue and stitching! With lifted surfaces and geometric patterns and structures, these products endure a tactility overload – which is a wonderful thing!
Crafted Systems collaborates with the YWCA women’s shelter in creating the pieces. This creative outlet empowers the women by encouraging skill development and collaborative teamwork. Sustainability is not just merely about what the production process is, what the product is made out of and what wastes it produces. Although the material isn’t always locally sourced, cultural sustainability is achieved by Crafted Systems by engaging the local community. By using local labour, environmental impact and shipping costs are significantly reduced. But most importantly, it empowers local businesses and local women’s communities. The labour process then turns into an educating opportunity on how things are actually made, creating a more meaningful interaction between the product and its makers and owners.
The act of building something yourself is something that is very self-empowering. However it is not just something you create for yourself for self-fulfillment, it is about making a statement. What are your thoughts on being the producer of your own products?
Aurelie Tu also has her own design studio called StudioTu. Go check out her other work!