“Earth as a building material began to be considered as inferior, and the product of poverty. It fell out of fashion due to social reorganization – not because it was less durable than the new modern materials.”
― Adam Weismann, Building with Cob: A Step-by-step Guide
In the 1800s, Charles Darwin proposed the importance of evolution, that how either we evolve or perish. Though that’s incontestably true but the question remains is evolution and replacement the same? When we take a look back at old traditions and local culture we find many lifestyle practices that are very close and considerate to the earth. Slowly but continually we are walking away from them. With the advent of industrialization, rising consumerism, and a capitalist economy the focus has shifted to being fast-paced than being earth-friendly. The old practices and traditions are dying. Some of these traditions, handed down from generation to generation, are gone forever. And this tragic loss cannot be just blamed on unconscious consumerism, but on the lack of thoughtful production, lack of research, and our collaborative inconsideration towards the planet.
“A unifying characteristic of these pre-industrial societies is their sense of holism and their understanding that everything is linked, that all actions have an impact on all parts of the system, and the whole is more important of the sum of its parts.
To these traditional societies, progress is not seen, as it is in our societies, as a linear concept, moving along a straight line from the past into the present and into the future. In industrial societies, at each stage newer and more sophisticated things are invented, so that we feel that we are better off today than we were yesterday. in traditional societies, time is seen as a circle, ever linked to the eternal spin of the earth around the sun, and the cycle of life and death.”
― Adam Weismann, Building with Cob: A Step-by-Step Guide
The artisans, who have spent their lives learning and practicing the heritage craft of their ancestors, and used to get desired prices for their craft are finding it hard to make a living thanks to the knock-off plastic items. Many of them are leaving their passion, their art to make a living.
Mianzi has generated employment for more than three hundred artisans in the different states of India in the last two years. We believe that we don’t need to keep these traditions alive but if we could learn from them and let them evolve with new technology, we can redevelop the complete craft industry in a manner that is beneficial to the artisans, to the planet, and to the consumers.
There is a fine line we need to understand. We have to understand and preserve the parts of traditions that are fruitful for the development and evolve the parts which are making it to die down slowly. The end products are art, full of history and culture, worthy of preservation and yet technologically advances, more suitable to current lifestyle and essentially modern. These products fit the modern lifestyle, thus providing artisans with desired wages while keeping their traditions, their passion alive. If they don’t evolve, they will become obsolete.
While conceptualizing any product, our designers sit with artisans to understand the why, how, what of the design. Once they have fully understood the traditional and the concurrent design, they develop something that has the best of both and come up with something completely revolutionary, to redevelop the product in a never thought before way. One such example is our Butterfly Chair. The butterfly chair while using bamboo as a base material, redefines craft by eliminating weaving and using bamboo in a way it never has been with our specially developed technique. On the other hand, it eliminates the joints we see in the chairs as the joints are the weakest part of a piece of furniture and introduce triangular geometry. With this fresh approach, we completely change the look and feel of what a chair is supposed to be.
It is rightly said - evolve or perish. We need to remember the stress is on evolve not on replace. So rather than replacing the traditions, we need to sit down, look back and find what we have missed. Probably our history, our heritage have the answer we are looking for, the way to make this planet beautiful once again.