Have you ever wondered why most people prefer handcrafted things more than their machine-made counterparts? It does not seem like it should be that way if people were looking for items that were made to a higher level of precision and free from imperfections. Most everything made by machine is going to be closer to perfect than anything made by hand. Yet despite the advantage machine-made things have in accuracy, somehow the less perfect handmade version is more appealing and more attractive to us. I have a theory as to why this is.

These Shutters and the Hand-Forged Shutter Dogs Express a Character and a Connection to Another Human Being that is often lost in a Machine-Made Object.

These Shutters and the Hand-Forged Shutter Dogs Express a Character and a Connection to Another Human Being that is often lost in a Machine-Made Object.

   My theory is that most machine-made things are “soul-less.” There is no personality to them. And more importantly, they often seem cold and “non-human.” On the other hand, a handmade item has subtle clues that another human being once touch it. The imperfections, so long as they do not diminish the utility of the item, cause us to relate to the person who made the item. This is usually on a subconscious level, but it is real, just the same. We might describe a handmade piece of furniture as having a personality. A slightly irregular handmade tile would be said to “have character.” That character is actually some of the character of the person who made it.

So it’s no wonder that my clients in Latvia grew frustrated with the local, Modernist architects who only knew the all-too-perfect, machine-made Modernist aesthetic. My clients found this style to be harsh and the Modernist houses they saw never really felt like “home.” They looked around the older parts of Riga and saw true character in the handcrafted houses built a century ago and in those they saw “home.” It was my good fortune that they read my book and saw that houses with character were still possible. Now we are working together to create our own version of the handcrafted home that fits today’s lifestyle.

Follow The progress of the Latvia project here:

Entry 1

Entry 2

Entry 3