The Art Of The Maker by Peter DormerPeter Dormer’s writings embraced art, architecture, design, technology and education; and his critical and curatorial work helped to promote the crafts into the freeflowing currents of postmodern visual culture.
Peter Dormer (1949–96) trained in art at Bath Academy of Art and in philosophy at Bristol University. After a short career in education he joined the staff of Crafts magazine under the editorship of Martina Margetts. By that time he had already started writing about the applied arts. He later left Crafts to become a full time writer and exhibition curator and developed his thinking in applied art, design, and architecture, the connections between them and their role in society. Among his exhibitions were Fast Forward (ICA, 1985) and Beyond the Dovetail (Crafts Council, 1991), both polemical exhibitions on the nature of the new and the traditional in crafts and the search for critical criteria. For Thames and Hudson he wrote the New series – starting with The New Jewelry (with Ralph Turner) and including The New Furniture and The New Ceramics. One of his last books was also on jewellery — Jewelry of our Time: Art, Ornament, and Obsession — written with Helen W Drutt-English, the Philadelphia collector. He also wrote about and curated exhibitions on design and architecture, writing The Meanings of Modern Design in 1990 and Design since 1945 in 1993. Peter Dormer was notable among critics for being appreciated by makers, and one of his persistent interests was in understanding the nature of skill and how it is learnt, used, and judged. This is the theme of The Art of the Maker (1994), one of his most important books, based on a PhD he did at the RCA.
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Peters preferred simple designs, bringing a subtle and personal originality to his work. He was known worldwide for his simple, understated, yet clearly distinctive modern furniture designs, and also for his tireless commitments as a teacher, writer and assessor. A significant shift in his work resulted from the study trip to Japan, enabled by a Crafts Council Bursary in , and the influence of the local highly crafted, yet simple vernacular architecture.
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Dormer presents a series of lively, clearly argued discussions about the relevance of handicraft in a world whose aesthetics and design are largely determined by technology. The question of computer aided design in craft is also addressed.
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