Computational tools and techniques have been discussed as they are trending in industries. They were introduced to address problems of complexities and increasing needs. While there has been an increasing interest in using these tools, especially in the arts and architecture industry, there has yet to be a proper integration with the existing traditional methods. This paper investigates whether the utilisation of computational tools is a necessity or a trend; whether they solve specific needs of the craft practices. Finally, this paper demonstrates the possible connection between traditional craft practices and computational tools.

Historical Overview | Traditional craft

Crafts have been an age-long admired aspect of man’s life. It is an old man himself. From the garden of Eden to the tower of babel, the Egyptian civilisation to the hanging garden of Babylon, and so forth, when there were no computers and digital tools, man had developed a means and way of expressing his inborn or developed skills. Men made such things as wood carving, stitching, poetry, sculpture, and metal works using their hands, yet obeying and observing our present-day elements, theories, and design principles or sense of climate. Back then, pencils or coal were used to draw patterns before manual tools were used to carve them out on wooden surfaces. Still, computer-generative tools are being used to create those patterns, and then 3D modelling tools are used to transmit those patterns into reality. The last couple of years has experienced a lot of industrial evolutions and growth such that traditionally oriented industries and businesses are finding it hard to cope and compete. These evolutions have become a subject of discussion regarding how they affect the continuity of traditional crafts. Most of the computational tools are advancements of the existing traditional methods, while some are futuristic, forecasting the possible trends of the near world. This brings the artist to the point of learning to be familiar with the tools applicable to him.

The possible connect of computational tools with traditional craft practices
Wood carving_

Traditional Craft Practices

These are locally manufactured items made directly with the hands. They pass through the hand production process from start to finish without the input of modern tools. Traditional crafts are important for humanity because they connect links among generations, places, and civilisations through the numerous expressions of traditional craftsmanship. Despite their cultural significance, efforts for the preservation and continuity of these traditional crafts are scattered and have received less attention. Some examples: Tie and dye, Metalwork, Wood carving, Pottery, Furniture, Sculpture, etc.

Computational Tools

These digital gadgets, software, or tools use algorithms and parameters to solve design problems with advanced computer processing. Every step of the designer’s process is translated into coded language. The software program interprets this language alongside project-specific parameters to create algorithms that generate design models or complete design analysis. Some examples are Revit, Maya, Grasshopper, Dynamo, Blender, Twin motion, Lumion, 3D –printing, etc.

Comparison Between Computational Tools and Other Craft Practices | Traditional craft

What were the reasons for the creation of these computational tools? Was it a product of advancement or solving more problems? What needed to be corrected in the traditional craft practice?

With the consistent progress in digital technology and disciplines, traditional crafts will become obsolete. Even though handmade items are still respected, and artisans are appreciated for their talent and effort, many manufacturers are abandoning traditional craftsmanship in a technology-driven world. It’s a shame because many design languages that interior designers and artisans are looking for still apply to conventional manufacturing techniques.

  • In the days of consistent craft practices, the ability to see a look-alike model and evaluate it before actual implementation was missing. It would have saved the Artist the stress of redoing and repeating the process.
  • The intimacy determines the value of an object with the material, the process, and the concept, which is what traditional crafts give to the user or artist. Digital technology allows us to understand the material fully, while manual allows us to feel the material more. The time and cost of digital manufacturing are expensive, making the object more expensive.


  • Both manual and digital processes require experimentation and are perfected through experience, knowledge, and skills.
  • Both require the end goal in mind before actualisation, so it can be identified when gotten.
  • Both agree that the craftsman’s understanding of the material, the process, and the design vision defines the end quality. 
  • Computational tools, however, are an extension of the craftsman’s hand by combining traditional manufacturing methods with digitally produced materials.

Advantages of Computational Tools Over Traditional Practices

  • Computational tools are revolutionising the design and construction processes, spurring industry players to seek higher self-development.
  • Computational tools enhance the coding process and solve design problems, relieving designers of the intensive creative process.
  • They help solve more complex issues and handle the advancing needs of man. In most cases, they generate quick alternatives for reviews and ease of decision-making.
  • There’s also a need for metrics and inventory of material usage, work done, and progress; computational tools help in these areas.
  • They address problems of complexity in the function and the form of large-scale projects.
  • Computational tools have helped humans explore, predict and control nature in inconceivable ways.
  • The use of digital technology offers the possibility of more excellent connectivity between industries and disciplines.
  • Computational tools & design enhance the processes, outcomes, product qualities, and reviews.

 Sustainability Of Traditional Crafts.

Craftsmanship is often endangered due to the “declining number of practitioners and apprentices”. The connection is, therefore, possible for these two groups to work hand-in-hand. Traditional crafts can be promoted using these present-day digital tools. Computational tools should work towards restoring these craft practices to preserve them and maintain our cultural heritage. These can be done through some of the following:

  • Craftsmen are identified and integrated into the process to co-develop this software, construction techniques, artefacts, strategies, and tools. For instance, a metal worker can be integrated into the process of 3D wire bending.
  • ICTs contribute through 2D/3D annotation and simulation in vocational training. The need for visual annotation upon photographic documentation in handicrafts was identified. Mixed Reality (MR) and Virtual Reality (VR) environments were used for training professionals in manual tasks.
  • We can essentially write a computer program that produces the design of an object, and then different tools let you either partially or fully use machines like 3D printers and laser cutters to help you make a final object,” 
  • Develop new strategies to rethink how rural craftspeople can engage with the global marketplace authentically and community-mindedly.
  • Enable computational thinking and making through crafts. Therefore, accurate representations, documentation, instructions, and training aids are provided to support the preservation of craft knowledge and practice.


Computational-design-tools-for-architects (2023) (Accessed on 03 March 2023)

Analysis on Application of Traditional Arts and Crafts in Exhibition Design (2023) (Accessed on 03 March 2023)

Traditional Craft Documentation – (Accessed on 03 March 2023)

Traditional craft sustainability (2023) (Accessed on 04 March 2023)



Edet Samuel is a Nigerian based architect with consistent practice experience in the built environment He began his career as a pupil architect in a firm and grew through the ranks of starting out his practice. He holds a Masters degree in Architecture from the University of Nigeria, and he's currently pursuing Doctorate with focus on Intelligent building management systems, architectural forensics, and Urban design. Edet Samuel has been exposed to a wide range of design projects cutting across major categories of buildings, and has contributed this experiences to students' academic works. Edet is broadly interested in contemporary responses and diversification in architecture, especially in areas of improved working drawings & detailing, design information and management, public health architecture in this era of pandemics that has made the home front the first line of defense, and design as 'preventive medicine'.