In the course of time, traditional craftsmanship has been replaced for the most part by computer-controlled production processes – according to the motto “quantity instead of quality”. However, even in times of mass production and assembly line work, individual craftsmen who create high-quality individual pieces stand the test of time. The joy of craftsmanship can usually be seen in the attention to detail. With individual handwriting, each product becomes unique. Sawing, grinding, filing, cutting, sewing and painting are just a few examples of the many activities of the seven craftsmen that MYVAN has accompanied during their work. The individual characters and working steps could not be more different, but they all have one thing in common: Their passion for traditional craftsmanship.
Traditions handed down from generation to generation are still of great importance for our craftsmen today. For example, the roots of whisky production go back several centuries. The individual production processes of the stimulant vary enormously, whereby long-standing traditions have proven themselves. Even as a child, Jim McEwan dreamed of following in the footsteps of his ancestors and later working in a distillery. Today’s master distiller grew up on the Scottish island of Islay, famous for its legendary whisky. When he found an old and devastated distillery in 2001, he saw great potential. After the reconstruction the production of the “elixir of life” started in Scotland, which is now one of the best whiskies in the world. Jim is a whisky legend and has dedicated more than 50 years to whisky making. He proudly tells: “It’s not just a drink. That’s the blood of Islay, that’s the blood of Scotland! It’s so much more than just a drink!”
Craftsmen and artists are involved in the processing of natural materials with heart and soul. In contrast to industrially manufactured products, they dedicate themselves to loving manual work on the basis of high-quality raw materials. The leather maker Garvan de Bruir is convinced of the versatile properties of this timeless material, which is one of the oldest materials in the world. Tanned animal skin is breathable, durable and due to its natural flexibility, it adapts very well to the movements of the body. The Irishman enthuses: “Leather is natural, sustainable and has all the qualities we need for our products.” Carpenter, designer and architect Ted Jefferis also uses high-quality materials for his award-winning masterpieces. He works exclusively with British hardwood and designs aesthetic, functional and sustainable furniture. “Wood is my favorite material. Everything I do starts with a piece of wood and my hands,” says Ted.
In order to manufacture unique products, creativity and resourcefulness are required. But everyone has a different approach to finding inspiration. The British furniture designer Ted Jefferis likes to draw on nature and is inspired by his familiar surroundings. “I’ve always been surrounded by wood and trees,” says Ted. “I grew up in a wooden house in the middle of the forest. I need that.” His workshop is also in the middle of a forest, where he enjoys the loneliness and silence and uses it for his ideas. Instead of peace and solitude, neon artist Andy Doig lets himself be enchanted and inspired by the blaze of colors of the neon lights. “They transform the dreary darkness into a fun-loving spectacle of lights, lines and colors. It’s like walking directly into a fantasy world,” he enthuses.
Can traditional craftsmanship and art be clearly separated from each other? Or should one rather speak of arts and crafts? The seven specialists make it clear that traditional craftsmanship goes hand in hand with artistic interpretation and execution. The Spaniard Hugo Jose Maria Corral – known under the artist name “Brusco” – describes himself as an artisan. He paints signs, clothing and various objects in his own provocative and humorous style. One of his most famous works is a Mercedes-Benz 406 D converted into a food truck. With an unusual color combination and a special typography, he managed to pick up Indian flair and let the van shine on Barcelona’s streets in a new design. The whisky distiller Jim also stresses that his craft is an art form in its own right that few people can master. The difficulty lies in deciding when a whisky has reached its perfect and unique taste.
Tattooed employees, loud rock ‘n’ roll and 50s style – with his hair salon for men and an offer of only six different haircuts, Dutchman Robert Rietveld makes a statement. Nevertheless, the rather unusual concept paid off – after only two weeks the waiting time for a haircut was already five hours. The barber emphasizes that his shop is not about trends, but about style. With his business idea, Robert found a market niche that quickly attracted many prospective customers. In doing so, he is not so much oriented to customer wishes as to what he and his team think is good. In general, it takes courage and strength to successfully implement new, original concepts and ideas and thus stand out from the crowd. And that pays off – as our seven craftsmen prove.
In order to be able to master a craft completely, it requires practice. A lot of practice. Different techniques and approaches have to be learned and mastered before experimenting and individualizing. The French eyewear maker Jérôme Aupin has acquired an understanding of various materials and their processing over many years of training. Now he designs original and unique spectacle frames made of buffalo horn, acetate, metal or solid gold. In his work he likes to face new challenges and experiment with innovative techniques, materials and designs. His manual work requires a great deal of finesse and concentration. He also has to accept a few mistakes and sometimes start all over again. But that’s what makes the job so interesting and exciting: “It’s a job that I learn more about every day,” says the master craftsman enthusiastically.