Mastery and Heritage: The Pioneers of Craft

This is the last post in our series exploring a new view of craft, in connection with the publication of our Point of View essay “Create — The Culture of Modern Craft.” After examining the ingredients, the spark, and the tools of craft, we now turn to the pioneers of craft: mastery and heritage.

As the saying goes, you have to know the rules before you can break them. Before you can even think of breaking new ground in your craft, you need to master the tools, techniques, values and story of that craft.

This kind of mastery takes time. It takes study. Practice. Effort. The honing of skills. Often even failure. Eventually, with enough time and effort invested, expertise emerges. And along with that expertise comes a love for the heritage embedded in the craft.

Only after developing a level of mastery and a love for the tradition can a craftsperson successfully pioneer a new interpretation, a new version of what’s come before. In the words of our new essay on craft, mastery and heritage “show us where we’ve been, so we know where we’re going.”

This pioneering spirit is a trait found in any good example of craft. Two great illustrations, from two different eras, are the Carl Hansen and Son CH327 Dining Table and the Potrero415 Table.

Both tables celebrate the fundamentals of fine craft while rethinking what’s possible.


Part of our Carl Hansen Collection, the CH327 Dining Table is a masterful example of fine woodcraft. It was designed by the 20th-century Danish architect Hans J. Wegner, a renowned pioneer of modern furniture design.

Each timeless piece is of heirloom quality. And yet this table — with its broad, impeccably constructed top, strong undercarriage and gracefully tapered legs — expressed a new vision of elegance when it premiered in 1962.

Its universal appeal endures to this day, thanks to the craftsmanship that goes into each flawless piece, whether rendered in oak or walnut.

To learn more about the Carl Hansen furniture story, watch this video below.


If Hans Wegner’s dining table elevated modern table design in the 1960s, the Potrero415 Table rewrote the rules when it was launched in 2016.

Potrero415 is a model of how today’s masters can express old skills in new ways to meet future needs.

Instead of being constrained by its materials, this table has a metal A-frame design that accepts a wide variety of tabletop materials — laminate, veneer, Corian, glass, hardwood and marble. It’s available in both seated and standing heights, with tops in four shapes.

Perhaps most innovative of all, the Potrero415 Table’s strong, slender base has hollow bays and legs that can hide cables on their way from the tabletop down to the floor.

“Every detail we design is considered an avenue for expressing modern craft,” said John Hamilton, Coalesse’s global design director.

“We’re often playing with ideas that look at our heritage and the irreplaceable value of certain crafts, but which then use technology to actually keep those things alive.”

Read more about mastery and heritage — the pioneers of craft — in our point of view essay “Create — The Culture of Modern Craft.”

Published On: April 16, 2018
Filed under: Design Inspiration

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