Research in Sloyd Education and Crafts Science A:1/1996

Craft, Art or Design?
In pursuit of the changing concept of craft

Anna-Marja Ihatsu


When one or more cultures meet there is always a situation where people are forced to ask, which codes are needed to understand the messages we receive or which codes are chosen for the messages we want to send. This study introduces the 'basic structure of craft', which is the final result in the analysis of the concept of  'craft' and its parallel terms in British English. The concept of  'art' and 'design' are used as comparative terms.

The data used in the study was collected from craft and design literature published between the years 1980-1994, which included articles in the Crafts magazine in 1989-1994, design and craft books written by important design theorists or critics, and a few exhibition catalogues. A minor source was the 37 answers to a questionnaire about the definition of craft, which were handed out at the TEXERE (Textile Education and Research in Europe) conference in Leeds in 1994.

A concept analysis on 'craft' was made by using a semiotic approach, in particular the theory of A.J. Greimas, integrated with the Grounded Theory method. It resulted in the formation of 13 specific categories, and their attendant properties and dimensions. On the basis of the final results a comparison between English and Finnish craft was made, resulting in some suggestions for posssible translations of some Finnish craft words.

Key words: Craft, crafts, handicraft, design,art, English craft.

Obtainable from:
University of Joensuu
Faculty of Education
Class Teacher Education
P.O. Box 111
FIN-80101 Joensuu, Finland
+358 (0)13-251 2337
+358 (0)13-251 2433

NordFo Techne serien Redaktionsrådet
Juha Hartvik, Mia Porko-Hudd