28 August 2006


While googling for information on how craft contributes to economic development in Africa and Palestine (which I'll doubtless post at some later date) I came across this interesting cultural phenomenon. The text and photos below are from this link.

Do you appreciate handmade arts and crafts? Are you the owner of a computer, a PDA, or, an iPod? Are you an Apple Computer fan? If so, SafariPod probably has a product that will make you smile... today, and everyday. You see, SafariPod is the real thing: a true handmade craftshouse. Not a single item here ever touches a machine of any type. Each art object here is not only useful and beautiful, it demonstrates theunique artistry of a specific Kenyan craftsman... the man who made it just for you with his bare hands.

SafariPod craftsmen make each object sold here to his own design. We determine the need for a specific type of product... say, an iPod stand. Then, we tell the artist what we need the object to do, and he then develops a design to his own taste and standard. Each of our artists have been sculpting native wildlife pieces for many years. Now, they are applying those years of thoughtful experience to creating technology accessories just for you. And, each of our objectsis made of renewable tropical woods, so as not to contribute to Kenya's horrific wood depletion problem. This makes your SafariPod object not only a wonderfully beautiful possession, but one that is also made to respect the environment.

Strange but true.

What this brings to mind is the analysis of objects developed by Jayne Wallace as part of her doctoral research into digital jewellery. She has very usefully differentiated between gadgets and non-gadgets:
Most if not all electronic, or digital appliances have a lifespan, governed not by a technological defect of the appliance, but by its function or usefulness becoming usurped by another, newer, faster, 'better' one. Such appliances are often referred to as gadgets. Gadgets do not feature highly or endure on our list of objects of personal significance. They are replaceable, therefore meaningless. Any meaning they may have once had for us is fleeting, replaceable, and transferable.
This she contrasts with crafted objects of high personal significance. SafariPods are seemingly objects that seek to bridge this divide and imbue gadgets with some sense of individualism and personal significance. But I'm sure Jayne could write about this far more intelligently than I.

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