Redefining Craft & Thinking in Patterns

Notes from a session held at the Luminous Green Retreat, 29th of April 2007

Rachel Wingfield and Mathias Gmachl

Main theme: using pattern as a language to connect different fields of knowledge and practice - understanding reality as a shared pattern

For example: observing the role of pattern within a traditional crafts context and also the context of digital technologies and new materials - bridging the gap between past and future, old and new

Using such a pattern based approach when looking at historical developments can have an advantage over a linear approach because:

  • forwards and backwards are an “illusion”
  • changes are complex and need to be understood on a transformational level
  • changing patterns can not easily be reduced into dichotomies: good/bad, material/spiritual
  • patterns show the connections between distinct elements therefore helping to understand the essence of things
  • regularity, repeatablility: spatial patterns, temporal patterns
  • observing patterns allows us to “open them up”
    • seeing patterns within patterns
    • a way to explore the concept of infinity
  • 3-dimensional structures create different patterns depending on our point of view
  • noise or randomness can be described as a lack of pattern
  • architecture can be described as patterns on various scales that are defined by human behaviour within it
    • creation of “alive” architecture (christopher alexander)
  • pattern based design solutions allow for flexible modular solutions that can adapt to change
  • patterns are a part of cultural identities in the form of artefacts, textiles, buildings
    • we recogise different cultures by there use of patterns
  • patterns describe proportional relationsips: musical harmonies, golden ratio
  • meaning only arises within as when we recognise pattern
  • verbal/textual language is a shared pattern
  • pattern is a way of coping, a suggestion for survival
    • describing the joy of birth
  • consciouness is a pattern
  • crafts add value to an object compared to mechanized production
  • craft has a potential for personal development - provides a non-intellectual, physical and contemplative activity that allows us to explore materials
  • the cycle of production has been split into several stages that where once connected: research, design and fabrication used to involve one person or group of people working together whereas now we have a situation where these different stages are split between different people working in different places, possibly even continents

Main principles:

  1. living together in a community
  2. learning by doing, unlearning and relearning (illiterate people can understand basic princinples of electric circuits through practical concepts like colour coding)
  3. learner becomes a teacher during the process

Importance of 1-liner (a simple, yet imaginative way of describing your organisation/activity), especialy in a country with many illiterate or half-literate people. Barefoot college 1-liner:


  • recoginsing your role within a community
  • self-empowering members of a community to do mentoring/teaching

continual challenges sustain the project - being able to adapt solutions for different regions/climatic situations

  • having kids → 2 vs 1.72 or none…
  • what does having kids have to do with sustainable issues… (perhaps sustaining a population?)
  • luminous/crafts_and_patterns.txt
  • Last modified: 2008-01-22 04:46
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