Whose Fairytale?

December 26, 2017

Does our story have too many story-lines and too many morals to these subplots?

As we opened our doors at the end of December, our fairytale became a part of everyday reality, both for us and for the few people who came in to see us. As our project transitions from being a “soon to be open shop”, to a “shop needing to explain itself to customers”, it became apparent that our project’s story has a lot of content that is hard to convey through what we thought could be a rather straight-forward set of interactions between tailor and customer.

Over the months leading up to the opening of our shop we spent much time discussing our intentions for this project and the experience we want to create, in order to convey the ideas we have to share. But now, as we begin telling the story out loud, I realize we have too much to say and too many different ideas are packed into our tailor made experience.


The above illustration depicts the actors that act within our tailor shop. The Craft, The Human, The Resources and The Exchange. I also drew in The Shop and The Common Ground as further actor/elements. The Shop is the stage where the fairytale takes place, and The Common Ground represents the common interests within a community.

In this post I try to pull apart our story into what I’ve come to see as different story-lines, told from the perspectives of the different actors/agents in our shop scenario. I do this in order to clarify different perspectives/plots, so that we can hopefully select and consolidate these back into a single story, with a clear moral that we are able to nicely convey via the tailor-made experience we can offer.

NOTE: Please excuse that the “Once upon a time….” stories are so over-exaggerated, but I wanted to push them towards the extreme (utopian fairytale-ness) to uncover the archetypical characters and stereotypical plots that could result.


The Craft’s Fairytale

“Once upon a time there was a small tailor shop in every neighbourhood where technology was handmade locally for the people in the community. The tailor worked hard, with great skill to produce unique technologies for everybody. Her work was appreciated by everybody for it’s highly skilled craftswomanship. The craftswoman enjoyed her work, because she took pride in applying her skills for the sake of a job well done, but her work also gave her a sense of meaning that went beyond filling the needs of the people in her community. For her, the process of crafting unique objects was a philosophically intellectual act that reflected deeper facets of life and opened her mind to new ideas….”

Moral of the story:

The world will end miserably without crafts…
Diversity above all else! We need to counteract the mainstreem techno-monoculture because it is not sustainable environmentally, economically and societally.

Keywords: local, community, craftspersonship, skilled labor, fulfilling work, making meaning

Slogan: “Joy in Labor”

References: Arts and Crafts movement, Ruskin, Morris

Open questions:
How can locally handcrafted goods be non-elitist?
When robots take over, what is there left for us to do?


The Human’s Fairytale

“Once upon a time every person was considered an artist. In one way or another every individual was expected to hold a spark of creative energy, and living life was a process of trying to use your spark to ignite a fire.”

I know this sounds super cheesy…. but something along these lines. Maybe this could also be called the No-Tech fairytale because technology falls into the background

who lived was much more involved in the processes that went into building the environment they lived in. Not everybody was a maker, but everybody had access to local craftspeople. People had a general understanding of how htings were

Moral of the story:

Making art is an important part of being human. Mass-production of technology has taken this art away from the people by killing individual ability to dream up unique solutions and applications. Visible/accessible local, small-scale production that everybody can engage with has the potential to keep this creativity alive because people can see, understand, having influence on how and what things are made.

Keywords: creative potential, access to knowledge, open source, transparency

Slogan: “Jeder Mensch ist ein Künstler” – “Every human is an artist” (Joseph Beuys)

In this scenario, it becomes important to focus on the creative process. What makes us creative individuals?

“This is how the world changes: We loosen the stranglehold of our givens, bend and stretch our minds to imagine what was once unimaginable, test our theories against reality, and emerge with vision expanded into new dimensions of truth.” (Maria Popova)

“Jeder Mensch ist ein Künstler” – “Every human is an artist” (Joseph Beuys)
>> http://www.menschenkunde.com/pdf/texte/geschichte_politik/beuys_deutschland.pdf

Sark’s “How to be an artist”:
>> http://www.joantrinhpham.com/uploads/1/6/6/0/16600980/3577522_orig.jpg

Open Questions:
Does “everybody is an artist” conflict with the idea that artist-dom is a learned skill that allows the artist to be a mirror of society, revealing hidden desires that individuals can not see of themselves?

One could argue that if there is no demand for tailored technology (because people are unable to dream up what they want) then why offer such a tailoring opportunity? But we can still hold fast on the belief that in future people (through education, access to knowledge and designs…) will acquire enough skills and knowledge to be able to dream up custom technologies and then we want to be prepared for this demand.


The Resource’s Fairlytale (The Sustainability Fairytale)

“Once upon a time, resources were used with great care and foresight, so as to waste nothing because everybody knew the world’s resources were limited and our impact on the environment non-negligible. Items of daily use were made to last lifetimes, and when something broke you fixed it or brought it back to it’s maker where it could be repaired, updated, upcycled into new things.”

Moral of the story:

If we continue production in it’s current form we will destroy our planet. It is not simply about changing ways of production, but societies attitude towards consumption.

Keywords: resources, depletion, sustainability, fast-fashion, slow-technology

Slogan: “Stop consumption now!”

Open Questions:


The Value Exchange Fairytale (The Economy’s Failrytale)

“Once upon a time everybody’s time was worth the same, the resulting economy was one of exchanging time for time in equal amounts. One hour of philosophy study could be exchanged for one hour of painting walls or singing lullabies….”

Moral of the story:

Something is wrong with the current politics/economy if it is prohibitively expensive for craft to exist as a viable means of work and production.

Keywords: value, exchange, economics, sharing economy, equality

Slogan: “my hour = your hour”

Open Questions:
I’m not completely sure if this is really the story-line we’re aiming for?


The Shop

Our shop is a stage that hosts a play that will last the next 9 months (the shop will cose end of june, but we will continue to play with the space until the end of September. Continuing the Shoptalk discussion series, running a school in August, and closing with an exhibition in September. Of course the first question should be: What story do we care about telling the most? But obviously we have already made certain decisions that have lead to the shop being our stage, so we also need to ask ourselves: What story can we best tell on the stage of our tailor shop.

The Common GND

I use this common abbreviation GND for Ground coming from electronics to draw attention to this cross-reference that always reminds me that even deep within the abstracted world of electronic circuitry, parts, diagrams and symbols there is still a connection back to real physical life.
of emphasises that fact that this fairytale is intended for a community with common interests. We can agree to agree that craftsmanship is a valuable human occupation, that considering every individual capable of creativity, that wasteful handling o resources is damaging our environment, and that economics left to the free market left to it’s own devices (no democratic governmental regulation) will not leat to the good life.

My Favorite

Of all the above fairytales I like The Human’s the most. Everybody has the potential to be creative, BUT how do we foster creativity in our community? The tailor shop seams an unlikely candidate for this story, but i think this is the one I feel most drawn to support and “tell”.
But it is not about picking favorites, I pulled the four stories apart from the inital single story we’ve been trying to tell, with the goal of making things clearer so that we can put it back together in a more coherent form. So the idea is still that they can all merge back into a single plot/story-line, only where is the emphasis? And what is the main moral we want people to walk away with?



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