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Let the Free Enterprise Micro-Economy Lead the New Innovation Culture

Andersen Design’s classic chickadee is always in demand


Thus far, the State of Maine is one of the few national retreats from corona virus. There is no guarantee that we can prevail in this status, Credit is due to the policies of Governor Mills. While such policies create great challenges for many industries, the governor’s strict policies are benefitting the real estate market, with sales showing a sudden increase.

Many new people from urban environs are moving to Maine. Are they here as permanent residents or just as second, or multiple homeowners who reside here upon occasion? Will there be a new meeting of urban and rural sensibilities to create vibrantly diverse communities, or will Maine become a enclave for the wealthy only? That is yet to be seen.

In a migration caused by a disruption in economic lifestyles, some may be seeking a solution to both housing and income. Conversely, the great wealth divide has made it almost impossible to hire workers without becoming housing providers. Recent laws and local ordinances designed to limit the growth of businesses in the home call for a serious review. 

Andersen Design once trained employees while paying them a wage but with affordable housing qualifications placing caps of income, this is no longer a workable model. Developing a network of independently owned studios, suitable to be in or attached to the home addresses housing and the need for entrepreneurial opportunity at the roots of the economy. Affordable housing caps income and limits the amount of working hours but independent contractors are free to work self-determined hours. The pay is not guaranteed but the opportunity is unlimited.

Andersen Design has a unique capacity to develop a distinct community culture combining living and working into a singular holistic concept.

Since Andersen Design is a teaching enterprise but not a non-profit organization, the sort of support we need must garner targets preliminary objectives in running a Kickstarter campaign

Andersen Design was established on the Coast of Maine in the Boothbay Region in 1952 as a full service company doing research and development of ceramic glazes and bodies, designing original functional forms and wildlife sculpture, making the molds, slip casting and decorating the forms, photographing the work, designing the promotional material and marketing the product to retail and wholesale markets. Andersen Design, located in a home, and later in a stand alone production in Portland, Maine, operated a world wide business, training and employing the local populous and selling in Main Street galleries, museum shops, department stores, catalogs across America and occasionally exporting, most notably to Denmark and Japan.

Our Wide Gingerbread mug in our classic brown slip decorating technique which has recently been imitated and made available as a commercially prepared decorating medium.

As the world changed from the days when Andersen Design began in the 1950's, the economy, once sustaining a strong middle class, has transformed into a great wealth divide, defining a core challenge for today’s youthful generations.

During this same time period the economy was becoming increasingly centrally managed, Governments using public and private resources acquired equipment to set up communal job incubators and training centers as though every company is completely uniform in its training, management needs, and corporate culture.

At the same time state economic development rhetoric promoted innovation, which rests on the premise that companies have individualized requirements and unique company cultures.

At Andersen Design our training is a highly specialized process, inspiring a vision of a network of independent production studios focusing on skills needed for individualized categories of design and craftmanship.

Our vision is a twist on the gig and remote working culture which is driving a dynamic national economic development conversation. Many of the issues of seemingly disparate industries are mutual to a ceramic design and slip-casting network made up of independently owned studios. After corona virus disrupted the old status quo, the new independent contractor economy has quickly evolved into a more significant voice leading innovation in a post corona virus world.

Andersen Design’s line of hundreds of functional forms and wild life sculptures are classics with proven marketability sustained over decades of changing tastes and styles, an iconic American-made brand prevailing during an age when the western ceramic industry moved production to foreign labor markets and an increasingly centrally managed economy marginalized hand-made making to the developing world. Andersen Design continued to grow its intellectual property assets against the grain of its time. Now the winds of change are reconfiguring the direction of the grain, compatibly with the bent of Andersen Design.

Andersen Design’s off-beaten path is looking more main-stream these days. Our original model as a business in the home works as a model for the future, where earning an income in a sheltered environment is of the essence, where remote workers and large corporations are finding out that there are advantages to the new terms of agreement which are rapidly redefining the environment of work across the world. There are many challenges to meet including legislation and ordinances which have excluded businesses in a home from both housing and economic development thinking for decades. Now is the time for a new conversation. The migration across America is already afloat!

As reported in Reinvent, a Medium Publication founded by innovation entrepreneur Peter Leyden, the new job training requirements of the larger corporate world are sounding very much like those that Andersen Design has always faced.

. “All companies are going to have to think about investing more in training,” said Susan Lund, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute, in an interview with Reinvent. “All companies are going to have to think much harder about building and creating the talent pools they need as opposed to expecting to be able to hire people with exactly the set of skills and experiences they need.” The Rise of Gig Work Demands Managerial Reinvention by Jim Daly

The new working environments will reshape communities. As work moves into sheltered spaces, and large corporate cultures disperse, reinvented as many smaller cultures working together, diversity in types of work is calling to be present on center stage.

The physical, hands-on activity of making ceramics, is an art and a science, which has fascinated mankind since the dawn of civilization, a constant within change, an anchor to continuity, and a bridge to new technological innovation.

By inescapable fate of circumstances, businesses in or attached in a home are the new frontier. If incorporated into economic development and housing thinking, businesses in a home have the potential to reintroduce affordable housing linked to affordable economic entrepreneurial opportunity, rather than a capped income bracket, businesses in the home can open new channels of opportunity sprouting from the roots.

Most importantly to Andersen Design, a small intimate working environment is conducive to the process of production as an artform, that essential idea that gave birth to Andersen ceramics in the 1950’s. Businesses in a home are at once the mainstay of a quality rural working life style and an instance of ownership of the means of production by those who are engaged in and by the work process.

Today Andersen Design aspires to establish a supportive networked working community.

Historically, Andersen Design is a company that creates a product from the raw materials of the earth, designing original bodies and glazes. In our aspirations, the tradition will continue as a research and development design studio and gallery working closely with independently owned production studio satellites, a twenty first century version of the pre-industrial revolution cottage industry synchronistic with the contemporary economic culture, popularly known as the gig industry.

The Andersen Design website will market the Andersen line along with suitable products independently developed by the network and curated products by other American Designer craftsmen.

An Immediate Deadline to Meet with an Apprenticeship Partnership:

At Andersen Design we are working on a new configuration in serendipitous sequence. led by opportunities as they emerge.

While we are working several angles, a most immediate deadline arose just a few days ago with an opportunity to apply for an apprentice grant in ceramics. The application requires two parties, the mentor and the apprentice. It is a small grant allowing for only a limited number of hours per week to train an apprentice in how to produce our line, but it is doable! We have been told by the sponsor of the grant that our purposes are within its terms.

This grant can initiate a process for developing a working team. We have long wanted to work with independent contractors in producing a mug, because mugs can be marketed as stand alone product, while also being the basis of an accompanying line. The grant would allow us to train the maker in how to make our products, and that is just what is needed to set up a creative independent contractor relationship.


Our Gentle Sandpiper, a best selling catalog item


In the larger context we are hoping to develop or locate programs to finance the independent studios but the November 1st deadline for this grant application does not allow for that idea to be in place. However the apprenticeship can begin anytime within a year of receiving the award, allowing an opportunity to resolve contingent issues.

We are exploring various available grant opportunities. The most challenging is to find funding to support setting up the space where the work can take place. This is an obstacle that we must solve or work around.

We have equipment and supplies that can be set up for immediate use but do not have a space. Our most likely solution is to run a Kickstarter campaign. 

We have a well-considered plan of action written by one experienced in running kickstarters for artists. The plan of action begins with a core list of supporters, willing to be contacted in person as needed, and being active support team. We also need a list of supporters who will pledge to contribute on the first day, since successful kickstarting projects must start off the first day meeting a significant part of the funding target. The funding target will be based on a project to produce and market a mug. Funding the space will be the stretch goal, as opposed to the targeted goal. 



A more advantageous deadline

There is an earlier deadline for the apprenticeship grant that it is more advantageous to meet: If we submit the application by October 10th we can have our application reviewed before officially submitting it. The application must also be signed by the apprentice. If the relationship endures, it is a long term creative entrepreneurial opportunity.

The production apprenticeship is one of many pieces we are working to bring together as a cohesive whole which together are an interactive working community involving all the different talents and skills that are needed to bring a product to the market.

If you would like to keep up to date on how this idea evolves, follow, support and become involved in creating a creative cultural network at Andersen Design.biz, where you can also click an option to be on the working partners mailing list. Feel free to contact us by phone or email as well, Information is on our website.

Click Here to see what the production process looks like

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