Wood’s Future Is in the Rear Mirror

If we want to be recognized, searched, and valued, we should remain faithful to our tradition, recover the virtues of craftwork and with them meet the requirements of the consumer.

Portrait of José Antonio Giménez José Antonio Giménez Valencia

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Between a conference and the following one there is always a dead time filled with coffees and chats, but, sometimes, exhaustion and dullness require of a moment of isolation. The mind digresses and diverse thoughts get mixed. They will, in many occasions, end up being a bunch of short lines-to-be -or not- in a future, or the draft of an idea that is worth more development.

The relation between a car’s rear mirror and wood’s future as a material to build the habitat that will go with us in the next decades rises from one of these invention periods. Tired of the permanent messages that drive us to look ahead, to the future… contrary, I think that the moment to look back has arrived. Make a pause and look through the rear mirror to all we have left behind.

Valencia’s furniture industry settled on the work of real wood artisans who knew how to create pieces that nowadays still furnish the houses of our relatives. Pieces built to last and meet a social need. Objects that include a quality finishing not as an added value but as one of the main pillars that hold the product’s selling. Nowadays it is not like that any more, despite whoever disagrees.

Nowadays, instead of defending a traditional business model that placed us in the international scene, we try to compete, in terms of price, with a market that is not subject to the same laws and controls. We adapt the supposed market preferences, loosing the idiosyncrasy and values of furniture and of the material it is made of.

It is about time to understand that we cannot dispossess a material of its essence to produce cheaper and transportable furniture. It is about time to understand that we do not have to constantly resort to new materials or loose the natural marks of wood in order to get into an impersonal market where lacquer deceives the eye of the inexpert buyer.

Surprisingly, we keep talking about the necessity of reducing the price of the product and adapting the market to the present crisis, when the real consumer –the one who is still buying- demands quality, strength and distinction. These concepts have nothing to do with the market supply over the last decade and are increasingly getting closer to the traditional idea of the artisan that tenderly sands the wood in the same direction of the grain.

It seems that when talking about industry, we find the same blind spot that the rear mirrors have. A visibility lapse that modern thinkers like Luis Piedrhita ironically transform: What do you mean, spot? You can park a van there!

Craftwork represents the cultural expression of a nation while is an important driving force of the economy of a territory. Crafts sector has a very important role in the revitalization of the local economies in any region around the world, due to the direct relation between craftwork and local development and cultural tourism.

Experts suggest an immediate proposal to reactivate the local market of traditional products: to direct craftwork towards contemporary creation and design, but without loosing the identity that has allowed it to survive through the centuries.

If we want to be recognized, searched, and valued, we should remain faithful to our tradition, recover the virtues of craftwork and, with them, meet the requirements of the consumer, who has the same need than those from last century, despite what they tell us.

We say yes to design, yes to personalized treatment, not only to the client but also to the manufactured product. Yes to the use of wood in its natural condition. We have got enough of these here, and with them we will recover the market that is slipping through our fingers. Or, in other words, it is time to recalibrate the rear mirror and prevent the blind spot to turn into a black hole that gobbles us up.

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José Antonio Giménez

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