Administration as a craftsman's design tool

#StudioIntegrativeDesign #Master-Thesis

On the basis of prospective fields of application of blockchain technology, the master's thesis of Pan Thurneysen examines administrative, logistical and communication aspects of hand-crafted products along the value chain. Exemplarily a system should be designed that automates administrative, logistical and marketing-related processes of locally manufactured products, without instances of external control or intermediation. The aim is to endow local craftsmen with the planning and administrative tools of mass-producing industries – or even to surpass them by means of of transparency.

«Craftschaft» deals with the entrepreneurial potential of digital tools in local Swiss crafts. The project examines product design as a process and links local actors, provides them a with access to nearby resources and uses blockchain, a the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Blockchain allows not only the creation of digital currencies, it is an open trust-less peer-to-peer system that enables its users to verify and transfer value-related assets over the internet.

The focus of the project is not solely about automating processes, but focuses on the extrapolation of a delicate element in the value chain which can only be be managed with high expenditures in incumbent industries: Transparency. Pan Thurneysen hypothesizes that transparency will increasingly have an influence of our purchasing decisions. We already want to know what and who has been part in the production of a good. But can we trust the reassuring statements of the companies and the claims of the quality labels?

In a globalized economy, it is extremely difficult to create clarity about the origin and nature of raw materials, much less to provide background information on the individual actors in the life cycle of a product: from raw material extraction, processing, production and shipping to recycling or the change of ownership. For products with a strong local connection, the outlook might be different.

Customers create a much more intense bond with an item in a co-crafting platform like «Craftschaft» than with a mass product. The ability to experience the story behind every step in production and the ability to retrace material provenance gives the customer the feeling of being a link in the value chain that eventually leads to the purchase of a specific item.

«Craftschaft» is an entrepreneurial prototype in which the small-scale tradesmen and materials, ideally already dispersedly present in a regional area, come together to create products from the available resources. Central to this thesis is the question, what individual approaches to and what elements of the local handicraft offer opportunities for differentiation in the market. How can craftspeople in such a system provide their customers with transparency? How does the market benefit from this? Is this radical form of transparency from an entrepreneurial point of view at all desirable?


Prof. Armin Blasbichler

, Studio Integrative Design

Luca Vicente

, Process Designer