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Monday, 1 December 2014

MANUFACTUM | A book about Belgian high-end Craftsmanship in Belgium | Masters of Craftsmanship

Manufactum, High-end craftsmanship in Belgium
The Craft
Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I am incredibly passionate about traditional high-quality craftsmanship and that I’m always looking for ways to put my own craft in the limelight through demonstrations and group exhibitions. Another way of promoting craftsmanship is through an editorial contribution in the press, e.g. “Pearls of Craftsmanship”, a quality label for craftsmanship of the highest quality.
A book about craftsmanship in Belgium
An idea I’ve been juggling with for the past 5 years, is a book about renowned Belgian companies who still work according to traditional methods. I am certain that this book would bring an added value to any bookstore. I’m not talking about an expensive pictorial book with some nice page-sized pictures depicting close-ups of interiors, but rather a book about the craftsman behind the finished product, not unlike the one the Dutch publishing house “ Spectrum” published in the mid-80s. The book I’m talking about should give the reader a clear image of the workshop, philosophy and working methods of the craftsman.

Publishing a book
A few years ago I tried to bring the idea to life. I tried to gather as much information as possible from several publishing houses in order to start up this project. I also visited a number of illustrious photographers to check if they might be willing to come on board with the idea. It all turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. People weren’t easily persuaded or had their own vision on how to approach such a project. Most of the time people were of the opinion that a “nice” book with pictures of interiors would sell better. 
I own a number of these books myself, and I have to be honest, this type of book becomes rapidly outdated.
So called “tasteful” pictures of interiors become obsolete in no time and the book is no longer in the public’s eye or sold for that matter. It is much like revisiting 10 year old magazines on interior design and thinking to yourself “forget about retro, this just looks outdated and tasteless”. 
A book on companies that still work according to traditional methods, a book on métiers or a book that actually shows the creation of something done by hand, defies the imagination, inspires people and earns their respect…and most importantly never goes out of fashion.
The financial side of the story
Financially, it wasn’t in my capacity to publish such a unique book or reference work on my own. But for those who know me, it’s already clear that once I have something in mind, it’s impossible to deter me. 
Another line of reasoning was to get a number of renowned companies involved who had the financial means to support such a tasteful project and in the process attach the name of their company to the art of craftsmanship and the Belgian quality label.
I suggested they used this book as a promotional gift for their clients, for the holidays or just as a token of appreciation. 
This way, they could show people that the quality of the selected companies was equal to the quality of the company who sponsored the book. But alas, this idea wasn’t well-received either. Apparently they didn’t believe in their own trade enough.

Patrick Damiaens, ornamental woodcarver
“Manufactum”, the book
In the spring of 2014, I was contacted by publishing house “Snoeck”, who asked me if I had any interest collaborating on a book called “Manufactum”, a book about traditional high-quality craftsmanship in Belgium. Finally, I thought, a publisher with the guts to take on this challenge. I told the people at “Snoeck” about my previous attempts to have such a book published and eagerly pledged my allegiance to help select the “right crafts” to ensure the quality of the book. 
This was no easy feat, seeing as the publishing house had certain preferences regarding the selection, but nevertheless, we ended up creating a marvelous book; a book that tells 20 fascinating stories, with the highest esteem for the trade, I might add, about the workshops of 20 Belgian craftsmen, each with their own unique specialty. Manufactum draws you into the world of a group of craftsmen who’ve turned durability and tradition into their passion. 
You undoubtedly understand the joy I feel of having had the pleasure to contribute to the realization of such an amazing book.

 The book will be published in November 2014 and will cost 30 euros. Both a Dutch-French and an English-French edition will be available in stores. It’s a hard-back that consists of 160 pages.

Book Manufactum
This is a book about the “masters in handcraft”, people and companies who manufacture products with their own hands and for whom general knowledge, tradition, skill and the knowledge of materials are essential. The aforementioned products are quality-wise so demanding, unique and exclusive that they can only be created by handcraft, leaving them shrouded in a hint of exclusivity and tradition; in short, Mastership.

 Info Snoeck: http://www.snoeckpublishers.be

ISBN: 978-94-6161-195-6

These are the 20 professionals in the book

Atelier Menchior - Plaster models
established 1850

Manufactum | Atelier Menchior, plaster models and ornaments

Atelier KERAT, Restoration of ART
Atelier Kerat Restoration of art

 established 1938
MAENE Piano creation

Angel Barrero: master of the art of Scagliola

Manufactum |Angel Barrero, Scagliola

Manufacture De Wit, tapesteries
   established 1889
Manufacture De Wit, Restoration Tapesteries

Lutson, Gold Leather

LUTSON, Gold leather
Quireyns, Stonemason

Walter Quireyns, stonemason

FALK, Copper cookware
3 generations
FALK, professional-grade copper cookware

Foundry, De Clercq-Ginsberg
3 generations
Manufactum |Foundry, De Clercq-Ginsberg | bronze casting

Lefevre Interiors, Paneling
established 1890
Lefevre Interiors, Paneling and interiors

EMYSFEER, Upholstery
Manufactum |Fanny Jean, upholstery | Emysfeer

Diederik Willem Vanderheyden, trompe l'oeil
 Diederik Willem Vanderheyden, Interior illusions, trompe l'oeil

TONDAT, Intarsio and Venetian terrazzo
 3 generations

Manufactum| TONDAT, Venetian terrazzo, Intarsio

Ralph Baggaley, Leather Creations

Ralph Baggaley, Leather creations

Atelier Mestdagh,stained glass windows
established 1947

Manufactum |Atelier Mestdagh, stained glass windows

Pels-d'Hondt, Organs
established 1892
Pels-d'Hondt, Organs | manufacturer church organs

Dujardyn, artisanal forge

Manufactum |The artisanal forge Dujardyn artconcept

t'Gebinte, Mill constructor

Manufactum | t'Gebinte Mill constructor

Patrick Damiaens, Ornamental Woodcarver

Patrick Damiaens, Ornamental Woodcarver

Patrick Damiaens is Member of  Pearls of Craftsmanship


Manufactum the book

1 comment:

  1. This is a great idea. In my own country, the US there are very few companies left that focus on quality and service. Mostly it's what one of my co-workers called the minimum viable product. The cheapest thing they can make, that we will still purchase. Every country has some great individuals and companies and that you've decided to focus on yours is a great thing.