Designing, Technical Drawing and the Craftsman

  • Philip Roberts Royal College of Art, London


Re-reading Christopher Jones's Design Methods recently provoked some speculation on the possible connections between design activity and familiar Technical Drawing practices in school. A former colleague of mine - a superbly skilful teacher working in the craft area of Design - used to refer to Technical Drawing as Technical Boring.

His light-hearted yet entirely serious comment occurred to me again when thinking about the validity of the craftsman-as-educational-model. I don't intend to go into that here; this note is only a part of it. But I raise it now because the comment was given additional point when I arranged it against comments of Bruce Archer's (from a quite different context I should say). The story (it is a very short story), goes like this.

If we follow one of the strands in the criticisms of conventional practices made by some innovative craft teachers, and in particular their critical comments towards the craftsman-as-educationalmodel, it seems to have appeared persuasive to some, and at least plausible to others, that the approaches, methods, and programmatic content that constituted conventional practices did not include other possibilities which they felt might be, and possibly should be, included.

Briefly then, and leaning heavily on Jones's interpretation, the evolution of this strand might reveal a path from 'the maker' in pre-industrial societies to 'the designer' in technologically-advanced societies. 'The maker' was anyone responsible for what we would now call craft-made objects, tools, and utensils. The essential feature of such production was that the maker was responsible for the entire processes involved in achieving the product: he was the form-maker. There were, generally, no separate 'planning' and production stages. The knowledge of the achieving was largely unselfconscious, the forms themselves changing by a process of very gradual development.

How to Cite
ROBERTS, Philip. Designing, Technical Drawing and the Craftsman. Studies in Design Education Craft & Technology, [S.l.], v. 13, n. 1, sep. 2009. ISSN 0305 766. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 29 mar. 2023.