Unwritten: The Implicit Luxury

Chapter published in the book "Sustainable Luxury and Craftsmanship" by Springers

Abstract

Can materials make us communicate better and deeper, without words? Ancestral textiles held such a power, but many of these have vanished despite the attempts of some tribes to keep those secrets alive. Our task is to help bring back that knowledge and a haptic way of thinking in order to fight the culture of prohibiting touch which has evolved in many places. Touch is the sense that holds the most memories, opening new worlds of communication connecting hand, eyes and brain. This paper will analyse how artisans and craft can help to make this happen via three ancestral textile languages—the Andean Quipu system, Bogolanfini mud cloth from Mali, and Mongolian felt. Taking these unwritten languages as metaphors for human development and interaction, and understanding that humans have found different ways to express themselves when the possibility to translate everything into words does not exist, we see that workmanship is a central concept for all of them. For those societies, these languages were a means to create their own worlds, keep memories, develop their identities, and make their thoughts and cultures last. These textiles, being holistic, can go beyond boundaries and achieve better interactions because they do not rely on intellectual knowledge, instead engaging feelings and senses, producing internal wellbeing which can be later passed on to the external world. Recovering these languages and the way of thinking they inspire helps us to reach a state where we create our own identity beyond the culture around us, and closer to life experiences, places, and knowledge. These environments would be designed with natural materials and encourage users to be part of that space using their hands to adapt everything to their needs, to be part of the journey of their senses. In a world where we often communicate in a very impersonal way, using technology, and sometimes feeling isolated even when surrounded by people and things, being consciously present in the moment is now the new luxury. Can natural materials and craft overcome this and offer humans a better way of interacting with others and the world them? They probably can, but this is not a luxury that can be bought; it requires people to put brain, hands, and soul together to make it work.

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(You can either get the chapter or the full book on this link)