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Fall 2023

The Art of Repair

In a culture addicted to novelty and fast profits, the humble art of repair has declined almost to the point of extinction. But it’s not too late: In this issue, we delve into the history of planned obsolescence, and the reemerging ethos of restoration. From the patient hands of watchmakers, piano restoration experts, and veteran appliance repairmen to the story of a young French woman who got her country to ban planned obsolescence, we’ll explore what it really means to create, maintain—and truly value—a world built to last.

Throwaway Nation

The practice of deliberately making goods not meant to last, or be repaired—a concept called “planned obsolescence”—was invented in America, perfected in America, and can now claim victory in leaving the U.S. with the world’s largest waste stream. Why are we so addicted to buying stuff that will soon be worthless? And what can we do to get off this destructive treadmill?

Written by JULIA SCHEERES

The Case for a Maintenance Mindset

A conversation with Stewart Brand, one of the most influential thinkers and pioneers of our time, still known for his 1968 creation, the Whole Earth Catalog. We talk to him about his latest project: a book, being publicly drafted online, entitled “Maintenance: Of Everything”

Written by TODD OPPENHEIMER

Is France Making Planned Obsolescence Obsolete?

In 2015, France became the first country in the world to pass a law aimed at banning planned obsolescence. In the years since, to give the law some teeth, France has continually added additional rules and penalties. All of this stemmed from the outsized smarts and persistence of a young activist named Laetitia Vasseur.

Written by YANN PERREAU

The Great Washing Machine Scam

As consumer technology improves, household mainstays like the basic washing machine keep sprouting new, unnecessary functions. Many of those functions are difficult if not impossible to repair, which makes the life expectancy of our household appliances plummet. What’s going on here? Our journalistic gumshoe hits the streets to figure out who’s pulling the strings in the appliance world.

Written by AARON BRITT

Try This at Home: A Q&A with Kyle Wiens, Right-to-Repair Crusader

Craftsmanship’s Contributing Editor Jeff Greenwald caught up with Kyle Wiens, co-founder and CEO of iFixit, the world’s largest repair community, to talk about what makes repair a craft—and where the right-to-repair movement is headed next.

Written by JEFF GREENWALD

“Miracle in a Box” — the Quintessence of Repair

In many of our favorite gathering places—schools, churches, concert halls, jazz clubs—pianos still take center stage. Some of these instruments are still going strong more than a century after their birth. Come enjoy a remarkable documentary that follows one shop of technicians that keeps these beloved, complicated beasts alive. The best of these shops can also improve a piano, even when it’s well into its elderly years.

Introduction by TODD OPPENHEIMER
Film by JOHN KORTY
Narrated by JOHN LITHGOW

Cuba’s Madres (y Padres) of Invention

Since the communist revolution of 1959, Cuba has been on an economic rollercoaster. The country has lurched from dependency to self-sufficiency, in a bubble of isolation where technological time stopped. Our correspondent, who in 2016 visited the artists and self-taught engineers who have kept Cuba running throughout its bizarre ride, updates us on Cuba’s declining fortunes in the years since.

Written and photographed by ROB WATERS

The VW Doctor Is In

In a corrugated tin shed that somehow survived California’s massive fires in Sonoma Valley, Gary Freeman labors to keep old VW Beetles and vans—the cars that defined the counterculture of the 1960s—chugging along. Some become great “daily drivers” for as little as $15,000; some get auctioned for more than $200,000. It’s all part of one man’s quest for automotive immortality.

Written by OWEN EDWARDS
Photography by ANDREW SULLIVAN

Occupy Your Bathroom

Every few years, some new razor system hits the market pledging to save your face and your pocketbook. Virtually all of them miss the boat, because the golden age of shaving occurred 50 years ago. The good news is that all that vintage gear is still available, and a few entrepreneurs are now making beautiful, modern versions that are built to last.

Written and photographed by TODD OPPENHEIMER

Other Topics In This Issue

Real Shaving: a Gift Guide for 2023

For anyone who shaves–men, women, or any gender in between–today’s disposable razors, disposable cans of cheap foam, and other throwaway items cost too much, and create too much trash. To help us counteract this trend, and return shaving into a pleasure, we offer you a treat: our 2023 guide to traditional shaving gear, with tips on fine shaving techniques.

Written & photographed by MICHAEL HAM

More from this Issue

Podcast

Listen to “The Cowboy Folklorist”

Written by MEREDITH LAWRENCE Narrated by GÖRAN NORQUIST

Gallery

View “The Master Watchmaker”

Photography by PETER BELANGER Written by TODD OPPENHEIMER

Podcast

Listen to “Chemicals in our Clothes: A Conversation with Sustainable Fashion Expert Alden Wicker”

Written by CRAFTSMANSHIP EDITORS Narrated by PAULINE BARTOLONE & ALDEN WICKER

Video

Watch “Miracle in a Box”

By JOHN KORTY / BRIDGE PIN PRODUCTIONS

Field Notes

Mending: An Ancient Craft for Modern Times

Written by RUTH TERRY

Podcast

Listen to “The VW Doctor Is In”

Written by OWEN EDWARDS Narrated by GORAN NORQUIST

Podcast

Listen to “Occupy Your Bathroom”

Written by TODD OPPENHEIMER Narrated by TODD OPPENHEIMER

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