16 May 2010


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di Vinci

Craft exists in spite of the forces surrounding and influencing it. It derives from the love of a human being for the materials, the process, and the realization of making something exceptional. It exists, often not by choice, but by a great inner desire of the craftsperson. Because craft is the act of making something useful, thought through, and with an artist’s sensibilities, it can be the most compelling of endeavors. It is deeply satisfying to its creator, and to the people who use the craft and develop an abiding love of the thought that went into the craft. Because they are loved by their users, crafted things are not temporary, destined to be thrown out before their time. Rather they are used until they are worn out, and often rehabilitated (with craft) and used again. The cycle is repeated. Of course craft is a spiritual act; the infusion of love into the endeavor, the giving over from the craftsperson to those who will use it, the quality of ‘life’ emanating from the object itself all make it so.

Craft most assuredly exists in the making of great cities. It exists in the hearts of the many people who are in love with the idea of great places, and in what it takes to make those places. It exists in spite of the rules, the economic circumstances, and the political will (or lack thereof) that conspire in the places they wish to create. Sometimes it almost exists like a mere weed giving color to a crack in the sidewalk, in spite of the odds. Most often it is not given its due. Yet when it results of the passion of craft have been made manifest over time in a city, it is deeply loved in the cities where it is employed, by the people who benefit from it.

While craft in cities exists nearly everywhere in this world, there are a few places where these visionaries of craft have been allowed to do their thing, in a critical mass with critical results. These places are truly extraordinary, and provide inspiration for those who love cities, and the would-be crafters who would make them throughout the world. These are accommodating places, allowing for a good and productive life for its people and for those who visit. They are places where there is cultural and artistic opportunities lie within easy reach, and where beauty exists from east to west and block by block in between. They are a pleasure to move around in. They are places where people are truly in love with where they live.

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