Modern Contemporary Design


4 or (5…) questions about craft and technology for Rob Southcott


Here at MOCO we’ve seen the relatively recent renaissance of craft in contemporary design, the making of things by skilled hands, and the ascendance of design technology such as CNC and more recently 3D printing.

We wondered, handmade and virtual-then-machine-made, two strong currents in contemporary design today – are they opposing or complementary forces?

To get a handle on what it means for designers we reached out to Toronto-based designer Rob Southcott, the creator of the Little Hatchet, a multi functional pendant which, when we first saw it, embodied craft and technology in a novel and elegant way. In other words it was the first time we saw the potential for the two, craft and technology, to create something greater than the sum.


The 3D printed silver Little Hatchet by Rob Southcott

MOCO: Craft and 3D printing, how do you as a designer square those two things? Are they opposites? Options?

Rob Southcott: Opposites indeed but the two practices can complement each other in the end. I find that knowing about craft and how things are made has always helped when designing something for digital fabrication. Otherwise you often end up with objects that look like they were created in a laboratory.


The laser cut Null & Void lamp

So which comes first, craft, technology, the idea? How do you approach these things? Also, are you equally knowledgeable/skilled in craft and technology?

The idea usually comes first for myself which leads and informs the development of the work. I find that once I’ve put together a few sketches for an idea I’ll then start to think about how it could be crafted. I have a broad knowledge for both craft and technology which has developed through the various projects that have allowed me to discover and implement these processes. I find I’m always learning about new things and that keeps my day to day practice interesting.


The cast silicone UrbanDrift desk organizer

You’ve been using technology to bring your designs to life for a while now, one could almost say you’ve been at the leading edge. Why is that? Are you a geek? Or is there some other reason?

Ha! Big geek for sure! How we design and create things is rapidly evolving, I’m just trying to keep up and take advantage where I can.

Where does this all go next in your opinion? And where would you like it to go?

I just see everything becoming more available. New apps are making designing and drawing in 3D a lot simpler and digital fabrication equipment is becoming more and more assessable and affordable. I see a new generation of manufacturing popping up in the basements and garages of the world.


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