Throughout history, domestic crafts such as knife sharpening, weaving or braiding, and more professional skills such as glass blowing or wood carving, were passed down orally from one generation to the next: from father to son, mother to daughter, from craftsman to apprentice. These skills were considered a professional or community “secret” whose learning involved an interpersonal encounter. Such traditions were slowly replaced by an industrial, machines-based age, whilst the rise of big corporations witnessed information concealing in order to declare ownership over it.

More recently, however, a proliferation in the popularity of new media websites, such as YouTube, has seen a rapid rise in alternative sharing mechanisms and DIY culture. Platforms like YouTube focus on and redefine “the self”: comprising of a huge archive of instructional videos, people from all over the world explain how to perform various tasks – simple as well as complex – in a visual way, using their own unique language. Through these videos, the “secrets” of craft are once again revealed.

The Project
Devised by Liora Rosin and Nitsan Debbi of TLV-based Studio BET, and assisted by China-based creative, Zara Arshad, “How to…” is a project that explores this new sharing phenomena. A group of handpicked designers from Israel and China have been provided with a carefully curated selection of “How to…” YouTube videos (from which they will choose just one to work with). Each designer-participant is, subsequently, required to create a new, original object in response to that video, which should be inspired by, but not directly replicate, the skill or craft being taught. Each participant will also create a video of their own to document their personal creative process. Finally, the original YouTube videos, the designers’ newly created process videos, and all final 3D outcomes will be showcased in a group exhibition during Beijing Design Week 2012.

This project is an attempt to present a new perspective on human knowledge, as well as current learning and creative processes by rephrasing designer-user relations both in the real world and online.

By extending and disrupting the conventional design process, “How to…” studies the new relationship created between the designer and our world today. Instead of existing as the first link in a chain, the designer and his/her work becomes part of a dialogue – just one link in a chain of many observations and creations. The “professional”, subsequently,
becomes a student of the “amateur”.