THE CRAFT OF CONSTRUCTION
“There are two men inside the artist, the poet and the craftsman. One is born a poet. One becomes a craftsman.” – Emile Zola
Lately in the office we’ve been discussing the relevance of craftsmanship within the construction industry. I’ve been told by men much older and wiser than I that it used to be common for someone to pour themselves into whatever they made whether it was furniture or food. One’s name was associated with their craft and since they valued their family name, they made sure they never brought disgrace to it. When it comes to architecture and construction, I am often frustrated and disappointed with what is considered ‘acceptable’ craft by many construction workers – and it saddens me to acknowledge that an attitude of ‘minimum effort’ is becoming more and more the benchmark of acceptable quality. I actually overheard a painting contractor once say to his employee something like “this place isn’t the palace, so don’t take too long in doing it!” I don’t care if it’s a doghouse, paint it right!
Maybe that is why we think so many good quality things are expensive. One theory of mine (this will get you going), is that although we are still capable of recognising the value of something that has been expertly constructed, we often favour the cheap and easy option to ensure that it is still ‘relevant’ in a world where a premium is placed on speed, and things are made to be disposable. What happened to the days when someone set out to make something and at the end of the day could stand back with pride to look at the thing they made. It’s something we shouldn’t have to pay more for to get – It should be the standard, don’t you think? When we ask for food in a restaurant, do we have to ask for the food to be fresh or for the paint on our new automobile not be scratched or the tires be fully inflated? I hope we don’t have to pay more for a computer keyboard that isn’t missing some keys!
To those few crafts-people that still exist let us say “thank you”; please come and find us and accept our apologies for making you read this rant. We would love to support you and appreciate your attitude and the time and care you give to your work just to make sure its right!