The seemingly stuck-in-time villages of Kampung Baru nestled among the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur have long been viewed as a symbol ...
Why Do Makers Make?
Four makers and three curators who are courageously walking the handmade path tell us why they think making is back.
Michelle Alice Tan from Designation.co: “For the makers, it always starts out as a hobby and a lot of them are working part time on their craft. It’s a creative outlet, something that they venture into to take away stress from work. At the same time, people love the idea of customisation, they want to put their name on something, customise gifts for friends. The demand from customers increases as soon as they see what can be done.”
Adeline Chong from ilovesnackfood: “People were already creating back when I was working in an agency and when I started snackfood. We had Arts for Grabs, bazaars, chic pop, Urbanscapes. The makers’ community has been established for ten years and those pioneers have either moved on to build a brick and mortar retail business or they’ve dropped off the scene. I think it’s so popular because it has a lot to do with the state of the country socially and economically and we’re also the reflecting the West. For example in Europe there was an economic crash in Portugal and Spain and a lot of people lost their jobs and the only way for them to regain some kind of economic independence was to make things to sell. That’s why there are a lot of people making things. In Malaysia it’s not about the crash, it’s about the emulation that we can also make our own things. And this emulation is a global phenomenon, we see it in Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and it’s growing. But Malaysia has always made things, let’s not forget Bonia, Crabtree & Evelyn and Gin & Jacqie.”
Aaron Lam from Supermart Collective: “It’s certainly both the love of the makers that fuels the movement as well as the customer who is looking for something unique, interesting and relevant for themselves or as a gift. Besides that the concept of the brand is very important, I know of a lot of makers’ brands where the fans are so loyal to the brand story. For example, one of the brands here has a cause, for every t-shirt that you buy a portion goes to fight against human trafficking. The customer thinks; “I get a nice t-shirt and at the same time I’m doing good”. Of course the aesthetics drives customers to buy from makers because our designs are much more relevant. If it’s a crafter - it’s all in the details. For me personally, I continue making because the appreciation I get when people understand the concept and see the value behind the brand. This means a lot to me.”
Ayu and Faiz from Attached Leather Co.: “The past two years seems to have heralded a new type of maker. It’s like a new breed of person. They don’t come from the field they are working in - like us, and their interest (in their new craft), was sparked from a side project, the love of a process or material and grew from there.”
Kevin Cottie Tan from Mentega Pomade: “Consumers today are much more aware of how things are made, they are becoming more people-centric, perhaps not to the extent of those in the West, but enough to question ingredients, processes and ethics. I’m following a pomade maker in the UK and she really opened my eyes to this because she wrote a Facebook post saying that she was looking into purchasing her beeswax from a bee keeper who allows their bees to rest during the winter. That’s next level, to me. Not just caring about people, but taking extreme care of nature as well.”
Ning-Geng Ong from Chocolate Concierge: “There’s a certain pride that comes from artistic expression and for me it integrates and accesses different aspects of the brain and that synthesis is exciting to me. With chocolate I’ve had to pool from biology, chemistry, physics and engineering to go behind what seemingly just works, to make from scratch. Once you understand the process and can tweak it to produce the results you intend, it’s deeply satisfying.”
Samsiah Jendol from LittleSyam: “I used to like technology a lot. It’s new, it’s very cool, but it’s very surface, you know? Handmade is about using all your senses, you experience it physically, see colours, touch fabrics, feel emotion in the work. And people love to personalise or make their gifts and give something special to their loved ones. You really appreciate something that you’ve made with your own hands.”
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