Brief: Impulsive buying, sense of ownership, artisanal value in daily use products.
Artisanal products, handmade or otherwise, often signify a particular moment in life. From milestone birth-dates and names marked by an etch. To anniversary gifts remembered for years to come. As humans, we connect to the personal touch in products we own, for thousands upon thousands of years.
This thing about custom-made anything is why often there’s a story behind a product. Why the artisan chose a particular design or materials. He ensures the delicacy of emotion it conveys while it families pass it down generations.
When I buy a handmade piece, I buy the history that comes along with it. Emotional. Told through the materials put together to make a beautiful piece of wearable art.
Talking of wearable art (I refer to its functionality). I have rarely come across making utensils as an artisanal craft.
This one day I was washing dishes. Scrubbing soap on a steel spatula, I saw something handwritten etched on its handle. Curious, I called my friend to ask.
He narrated a little story.
“In our native land, we have a tradition of getting cooking utensils custom-made. This spatula is a gift handed to me when I moved out of the house. My family wanted me to eat healthy, eat at home. All the utensils I own, from the plate, to the cooking spatulas, all have my name etched on them, in Tamil. It is a family ritual and I have learnt despite daily rugged use, I care for these products a little more.”
In this story- I see ownership. Care. Artisanal value. A sense of pride in a product that reflects family tradition.
Global consumerism. Living away from home, I see our generation fall prey to its marketing agents. Shifting to a “minimalist” culture of mass produced and pocket friendly utility items. All that is ETCHED on these products is the QR code for product details and a weary digital print.
Increasing digitization has increased access to a culture of impulsive buying (Amazon, Flipkart). Last week I was complaining about why IKEA has only one store in India? It should start shipping products nationwide in this pandemic.
You must have seen ads on your social media about products you might be talking of, or looking up in your search engines? Accessibility, technology and gadgets- are all tuned to embed this culture within us.
What stories are we going to tell our friends and family?
-about these SPECIAL products we buy, exhaust and dump.