Diário | Journal

Uma questão de perspectiva

"I eventually broach the ‘craft’ question and see how Daniel sees himself in the context of London’s east end burgeoning of cottage/barge/spare room business. He stops me mid flow and firmly tells me what he does is anti craft, the perception I am given is he views himself as a neo-industrialist, he expresses his anger of those who seem to view what he does as a novelty which has no real context in the world of manufacturing. He puts it perfectly in summary himself;  “It’s the difference between careless mass production and considered mass production.” Then when you look at the end product you can really understand what he is on about. By working on such a smaller scale Daniel is able to produce not just an incredible final product with his attention to detail but also a wide range. It’s not just fashion companies that come calling; his size allows him to produce for private clients looking for their own custom tweed. Daniel launches into a tangent containing speech about the joy of working with such a variety of fantastic designers from all different backgrounds- big boys such as Ralph Lauren work with him and local celebrated designers such as S.E.H. Kelly."

- The Holborn Mag : 
LONDON CLOTH COMPANY: DANIEL HARRIS & LONDON’S FIRST MICRO-MILL

Já escrevi sobre o caso do Daniel Harris antes, em 2012, mas é um caso que apetece revisitar porque entretanto o trabalho dele já cresceu e consolidou-se, e é agora um exemplo comprovado do que quis mostrar na altura.

Neste caso, um homem sozinho passa meses a recolher teares e outras máquinas relacionadas para montar uma pequena fábrica que consiga operar com imensa qualidade e rentabilidade. Depois parte para montar um negócio de produção têxtil baseado nestes princípios, focado em abastecer um público que procura produtos de grande valor acrescentado, produzidos localmente e de forma ética. Pelo caminho ainda consegue ir a outros países desenvolvidos para ajudar a colocar maquinaria semelhante em funcionamento, de forma a criar outras micro-tecelagens baseadas nos mesmos princípios.

Instituto Monsenhor Airosa - Braga, Portugal / Março 2011

Instituto Monsenhor Airosa - Braga, Portugal / Março 2011

Instituto Monsenhor Airosa - Braga, Portugal / Março 2011

Instituto Monsenhor Airosa - Braga, Portugal / Março 2011

Instituto Monsenhor Airosa - Braga, Portugal / Março 2011

Instituto Monsenhor Airosa - Braga, Portugal / Março 2011

Instituto Monsenhor Airosa - Braga, Portugal / Março 2011

Instituto Monsenhor Airosa - Braga, Portugal / Março 2011

Instituto Monsenhor Airosa - Braga, Portugal / Março 2011

Instituto Monsenhor Airosa Braga, Portugal / Março 2011

Por cá, maquinaria semelhante está parada no Instituto Monsenhor Airosa, que parou de laborar em 2012 (eu visitei-os em 2011). O conjunto inclui uns raros teares jacquard, que eram ainda mais raros quando ainda estavam em pleno funcionamento, há 5 anos atrás. Não sei o que a direcção do IMA planeia fazer com um espólio destes, mas sei que o equipamento é visto como tendo apenas valor "arqueológico-industrial", o que me parece excluir a possibilidade de o reactivar. 
À primeira vista esta tecnologia parece datada, mas na realidade não é bem assim. O avanço da indústria tornou-a aparentemente obsoleta durante umas décadas, mas acabou por colocá-la numa categoria intermédia, que não é bem artesanal nem bem industrial, mas que pode ser imensamente útil. Regra geral, permite produzir melhor e em menor quantidade, sendo rentável por ter um certo nível de automação, e permite que seja explorada por empresas pequenas ou até individuais.

Talvez colocar e manter este tipo de maquinaria em funcionamento não seja tarefa fácil nem barata, mas muito mais difícil e dispendioso que isso é, depois de enviar tudo para a sucata, reconstruir de raiz uma tecnologia que já tivemos e, talvez o mais difícil de tudo, recuperar o conhecimento que lhe estava associado.

Mas para ser justa, por cá já vejo os sinais de mudança quando sei de empresas que compram antigas fiações que estavam destinadas à sucata para poderem produzir em menor quantidade e com mais qualidade ou ouço profissionais da indústria a lamentarem de se terem desfeito de máquinas mais pequenas e especializadas que agora fazem falta. 


A matter of perspective


"I eventually broach the ‘craft’ question and see how Daniel sees himself in the context of London’s east end burgeoning of cottage/barge/spare room business. He stops me mid flow and firmly tells me what he does is anti craft, the perception I am given is he views himself as a neo-industrialist, he expresses his anger of those who seem to view what he does as a novelty which has no real context in the world of manufacturing. He puts it perfectly in summary himself;  “It’s the difference between careless mass production and considered mass production.” Then when you look at the end product you can really understand what he is on about. By working on such a smaller scale Daniel is able to produce not just an incredible final product with his attention to detail but also a wide range. It’s not just fashion companies that come calling; his size allows him to produce for private clients looking for their own custom tweed. Daniel launches into a tangent containing speech about the joy of working with such a variety of fantastic designers from all different backgrounds- big boys such as Ralph Lauren work with him and local celebrated designers such as S.E.H. Kelly."

- The Holborn Mag : LONDON CLOTH COMPANY: DANIEL HARRIS & LONDON’S FIRST MICRO-MILL

I have written about Daniel Harris case before, back in 2012, but it is something worthy of bringing back, as it is now an even better and more consolidated example of what I wanted to show at the time.
In this case, a man spends months gathering looms and other related machinery to set up a small mill that can operate in a smaller scale and with high quality.
He then creates his textile business based on those principles, focused on supplying clients that look for high quality products, made locally and ethically. On his way, he even manages to go to other developed countries and help set up similar machinery, so as to help create other small scale mills based on the same manufacturing principles.

Around here, similar machinery is standing still in Instituto Monsenhor Airosa, that stopped working somewhere around 2012 (I visited them in 2011). The mill includes rare punched cards jacquard looms, that were even more rare when they were fully working 5 years ago.
I don’t know what IMA’s management is planning to do with all this, but I know that the equipment is viewed as being of “archeological-industrial” value only, which seems to exclude the possibility of bringing it back to activity.

At first sight, this technology seems simply outdated, but that’s not quite right. The textile industry advances made it apparently obsolete for many decades, but in the end it placed it in this middle ground, that is not quite artisanal nor industrial, but that can be very useful. Generally speaking, it allows to manufacture better, less quantity, keeping it profitable because it can be automated, and it can be operated by very small companies and even individuals.
Maybe getting this type of machinery to work isn’t the easiest or cheapest thing to do, but more difficult and expensive than that may be, after sending everything to the junkyard, to rebuild from scratch a technology that we used to have and, the most difficult thing, to recover the knowledge associated with it.

To be fair, the signs of change are very visible when I know about companies that buy old spinning mills that were destined to be destroyed so that they can start their own small scale production or when I hear from industry professionals that are sorry for having discarded small and more specific machinery that they now need to fulfill their new type of clients demands.