Beginning  October 13th, 2014 and as part of our ongoing Makeshift conversation, Alabama Chanin will host a series of discussions and lectures about design, art, business, community, and plenty of other topics. Events will be held at the Factory on the second Monday of each month. The format will shift, depending on topic and presenter, but you can look forward to informal talks, multi-media presentations, and hands-on workshops.

Makeshift began over three years ago as a conversation about design, craft, art, fashion, and DIY—how they intersect and how each discipline elevates the others. Since its beginnings, we have expanded the conversation, discussing how making in groups can build relationships and communities, all the while examining what the design community can learn from the slow food movement.


The dialogue has grown, changed, and shifted each year, but the larger purpose remains: to explore how certain themes cross industries, to create a space to learn from one another, to design platforms to work with one another, and to adapt our disciplines for the greater good. After Makeshift 2014, it became clear that we wanted to expand our conversations further, including more voices and perspectives in the narrative. The next step is to bring this global focus to the local level.

My own design training began with an interdisciplinary program inspired by the Bauhaus movement that was founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany. The school founded by Gropius, named the Staatliches Bauhaus, was founded on the idea of creating complete collaboration between all of the genres of design and the arts. The word “bauhaus” in direct translation means “house of construction” but was understood by its students as the “school of building.” This school of building produced some of the very best architects, potters, textile, landscape, and graphic designers of its era.

Architects, painters, sculptors, we must all return to crafts! For there is no such thing as “professional art”. There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman. By the grace of Heaven and in rare moments of inspiration which transcend the will, art may unconsciously blossom from the labour of his hand, but a base in handicrafts is essential to every artist. It is there that the original source of creativity lies.

Let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen without the class-distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsmen and artists! Let us desire, conceive, and create the new building of the future together. It will combine architecture, sculpture, and painting in a single form, and will one day rise towards the heavens from the hands of a million workers as the crystalline symbol of a new and coming faith. — Walter Gropius

Look for more information on this and other upcoming Makeshift events on our Journal and/or join our mailing list.



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Click to read 9 comments
  1. Vicki

    Have you considered recording/filming this series to make it available to a larger audience? Oh, how I wish you would! It’s fascinating. And while there’s certainly a trip to Florence in my future, it won’t likely ever be monthly. Thank you for your fabulous work.

  2. Lisa

    Yes! I wish I lived closer! Can you record these and put them up on the site for those of us who live far away? I often think about the distinction between fine art and craft–is it real? Why is there one at all? If it’s not real, why do we act as though it is? I want to do ALL THE THINGS! I want to sew and print and collage and knit. I want to make a life that is beautiful in its useful objects as well as its objects of contemplation. But how do you do it? How do you make the community? What’s the organizing principle beyond “Make!”? I’ll look forward to follow-up posts on these talks. I hope you will tell us about them!

    1. Chris

      Lisa – you put that so well, thank you! I have some of the same thoughts and feelings so refreshing to feel community in your comment,

  3. Theresa Lamon

    I would love to see this series or even a portion of it available on line. I, too, would be willing to contribute!
    Thank you for all that you share!

  4. Jeannette Stargala

    Everybody before me has already voiced what I was going to ask! So I hope with the others that the series will be available online for us to participate from far. That would be wonderful!
    Thanks for the inspiring work you do!

  5. Meribeth Wulff

    I echo, most urgently, all the previous requests! I have attended your week-long workshop last November and was enchanted; however it was a hard trip from Chicago. As a master of many (seemingly unrelated) crafts and occupations, I find your current endeavor most interesting. How I would love to incorporate Bauhaus philosophy into my work going forward. Bless you for your brilliance!

  6. Alabama

    Wow…We are blown away by the amazing response to the Makeshift conversation series. Right now, we will not be posting each discussion online (our apologies), but we’ll let you know if and when as soon as we know ourselves. We will, however, continue to write about Makeshift, design, and all the important topics that surround craft, slow food, and the slow design movement on our Journal. We have such enthusiastic support from our online community. Thank you for being a part of the conversation.

    If you would like to read more about those topics, visit here on our Journal: http://alabamachanin.com/journal/category/makeshift/

    And here on our website: alabamachanin-makeshift.com