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Reconsidering Pye’s theory of making through digital craft practice: A theoretical framework towards continuous designing

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The term ‘Digital Craft’ is commonly applied in the context of craft as exercised with the aid of digital technology. If the application of digital tools and techniques merits the term digital craft, then where does the craft lie in Computer Numeric Control (CNC) making? This article takes the position that craft practice is rooted in the relationship between materials, tools and techniques as an intricate workflow. We suggest that the workflow can be considered as autopoietic in nature, in that it is both self-referential and self-making, at the same time as continuously designing. Through this, digital fabrication can be seen as a practice that co-evolves technology and material systems. The first author took a step back and reconsidered David Pye’s theory of making in relationship to digital craft practice. This is later cross-examined with a series of semi-structured interviews with contemporary craft practitioners, to devise a systematic approach to the analysis of craft practices. This research stems from the first author’s background in architecture, whose design practice is craft based using digital fabrication technology. Through this research, we examined making as a means of generating design knowledge in the process. The article suggests that the authenticity of craft lies within the deeper structure of the practice: the formation of repertoire where its social and cultural meaning is derived through coupling the practice with other systems.
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Keywords: architecture; craft practice; design; digital fabrication; systems theory; technology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The University of Melbourne, Australia 2: RMIT University, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2016

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  • The aim of Craft Research is to advocate and promote current and emerging craft research, including research into materials, processes, methods, concepts, aesthetic and style. This may be in any discipline area of the applied arts and crafts, including craft education.

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