The Artisans of the Automation Age
As technology spreads, opportunities for craftsmanship are growing in some unlikely places. Welcome to our series on “Craftsmanship and the Future of Work.” In this debut issue, we look into the forces behind today’s “wage-less recovery”; whether high technology and craftsmanship can co-exist; a new Renaissance man; a 600-year old tradition of night watchmen; and the world’s last, true master goldbeater.
In early 2018, after the release of a positive national jobs reports, some experts said the glowing numbers couldn’t be trusted, and actually indicated a “wage-less recovery.” No wonder. For the last few decades, both the private and public sectors have gradually weakened the support structures that have nurtured the American workforce for generations. Two experts connect the dots on this new dilemma, and look for solutions.
By KRISTIN SHARP and MOLLY KINDER
Almost hidden on a funky old pier along San Francisco’s waterfront, Autodesk, a world leader in digital tools for makers, is running a prototype shop that seems more like a high-tech playground for grown-ups. In between contracts to make, say, a steel ship propeller with a massive 3-D printer, the company takes in sculptors, engineers, and architects who are pushing the boundaries of their own work. The effect of all this energy is a level of innovation that is expanding—and perhaps redefining—the meaning of craftsmanship.
By TODD OPPENHEIMER
Since 2010, Kelly Carlisle has been breaking new ground—literally— for youngsters in East Oakland and beyond, using an urban farm to inspire them to engage with the world as curious citizens. “Part of my work,” she says, “is to make sure we expand their worldview.”
By WILL CALLAN
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Marino Menegazzo spends his days hammering gold leaf into sheets so fine that your slightest touch will make them dissolve. His workshop—a simple brick building hidden on one of Venice’s myriad piazzas—was once the home and studio of Titian, Italy’s immortal Renaissance painter. Come visit with the world’s last true master of handmade gold leaf—an ancient craft where the hand can still beat the machine, every time.
By ERLA ZWINGLE
Craftsman Jack Mauch, still in his 30s, is already creating breathtaking examples of craftsmanship in everything from furniture-making to ceramics and metalwork. If this kind of range is what it takes to become a master artisan in today’s world, God help the rest of us mere mortals.
Written by NATALIE JONES
Every night for the last 612 years, a man has been climbing 153 stone steps of Lausanne’s cathedral to call out the hour, telling the city that all is well. For the last 28 years, this ritual has fallen to Renato Häusler. “Here it is good values,” he says. “Wood, stone, history – nothing complicated.”
By MICHAEL CERVIN
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Written by Natalie Jones Narrated by Natalie Jones