Shouldn’t We Bring Cottage Industry to Haverstraw?

The New York Times has released a fairly interesting article on the revival of cottage industry, which has begun to meld with the world of high-fashion and high-design. Rural Craft is the new “it” for urban dwellers these days. . . and chic is more and more looking like it’s beyond passe. But in all seriousness (let’s talk English here), cottage industry and rural craft seems to be a real opportunity for the Village of Haverstraw and the rest of the Hudson Valley. Might I remind you, our banks are lined with clay!

LONDON — Seeing villagers digging up clay and turning it into pots in Peru persuaded the Dutch designers Nadine Sterk and Lonny van Ryswyck to do the same in Europe. They planned to collect clay from several countries to show how it changes from place to place, but once they started digging in the Dutch countryside, they were astonished by what they found.
“There were so many differences in color, texture and finish even in the same small area,” said Ms. Sterk, who works together with Ms. van Ryswyck as Atelier NL. “Clay is such a rich, beautiful raw material, and we’d never known that, even though we’d been walking on it for years.”
They made bowls and plates from different types of clay, so that each vessel could be used to eat fruit and vegetables grown on the same patch of land. But the Atelier NL designers are not the only ones to be experimenting with rustic styles, techniques and traditions. Other designers are also drawing inspiration from rural life, which appeared again and again in this summer’s design graduation shows.
This is a radical departure for design, which has been steeped in urbanism since the Industrial Revolution. After two centuries of prizing industrial efficiency over the folksy idiosyncrasies of craftsmanship, why has design gone country?
If you rewind through design history there have been occasional glimpses of the countryside. During the 1930s, the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto designed furniture to be made from silver birches in a nearby forest, and the work of the French designer Charlotte Perriand was inspired by Alpine peasant life. In 1950s Italy, Gio Ponti upholstered his spindly Superleggera chair in rustic straw, while Achille Castiglioni added a tractor seat to his Mezzadro stool. . .

The art world and overall American taste has been moving in this direction for quite some time, and it seems as if we may dive head-first into a new Craftsman era. Globalization and mass manufacture of drab products may very well be on its way into history; we can discuss the reasons why, including Peak Oil and perhaps, climate chaos (but this would be too large a digression). Why shouldn’t our region capitalize on this developing trend?


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