All the items are now in production, with a couple of last minute details to resolve, which has thrown up an interesting difference between producing things for CONTAINER and how it’s done for clients.
Ordinarily, in commercial production, when there’s an external client involved, everything has to be finalised and agreed before we start. All and any development and testing has to thoroughly resolve any potential problems – all uncertainties have to be eliminated before production can begin. Nobody likes surprises.
With the items in CONTAINER, the approach is a little different. For a start, the creative production process has to be more collaborative because we’re creating something unusual – as a general rule of thumb, more innovative executions require a more thorough integration between the designer and the producer – it’s necessary to know what the possibilities are, especially when some things don’t work.
As publisher, theoretically, I’m the client – in as much as I’m paying for the production, so I have a say on what specifications we can run to. This is a delicate balancing act as I’m conscious that restricting the contributors is counter to the whole project and that also it’s my duty to CONTAINER customers (readers?) to make sure they’re getting good value from the objects in the box.
Lastly – and perhaps most interestingly – is that we don’t have to have everything resolved before we start. On at least two of the items, we’ve initiated production while waiting to resolve other elements. It’s not always possible to test everything to the degree where you can accurately predict how it will turn out. Sometimes there’s benefit to waiting until you have finished components, so that you’re responding to something that’s exactly what you have, rather than what you think you’re going to get. For one item, we are trying to create something with very tight tolerances, where the difference between the prototype and the production would be inaccurate and misleading. So, it’s better that we work with the actual production item.
Personally, I like this way of making things. It’s truer to the original ethos of ARTOMATIC, where manufacturing becomes part of the creative process and not subservient to it. It’s also a more fluid way of working – it feels like you’re making progress even if you’re waiting to resolve another. But, it’s probably too risky for commercial projects—understandably, very few clients are prepared to take that risk.