Reconsidering pye’s theory of making through digital craft practice: A theoretical framework towards continuous designing

Paul Loh*, Jane Burry, Malte Wagenfeld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The term ‘Digital Craft’ is commonly applied in the context of craft as exercised with the aid of digital technology. If the application of digital tools and techniques merits the term digital craft, then where does the craft lie in Computer Numeric Control (CNC) making? This article takes the position that craft practice is rooted in the relationship between materials, tools and techniques as an intricate workflow. We suggest that the workflow can be considered as autopoietic in nature, in that it is both self-referential and self-making, at the same time as continuously designing. Through this, digital fabrication can be seen as a practice that co-evolves technology and material systems. The first author took a step back and reconsidered David Pye’s theory of making in relationship to digital craft practice. This is later cross-examined with a series of semi-structured interviews with contemporary craft practitioners, to devise a systematic approach to the analysis of craft practices. This research stems from the first author’s background in architecture, whose design practice is craft based using digital fabrication technology. Through this research, we examined making as a means of generating design knowledge in the process. The article suggests that the authenticity of craft lies within the deeper structure of the practice: the formation of repertoire where its social and cultural meaning is derived through coupling the practice with other systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-206
Number of pages20
JournalCraft Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes


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