Writer and maker Chris Gardner created ManMade as an opportunity to explore the emerging independent craft movement through the lens of the postmodern male. ManMade features original how-to content, videos, and design inspiration created by both women and men. It's for anyone that says "Hey, I can do that", and believes that sewing machines and tablesaws alike belong in the workshop.
'Manmade' is a very interesting concept for a website; a male orientated world of craft. This is reiterated by it's slogan: 'Creativity and the Handmade life for the Postmodern Male'. So what's on offer in this 'masculine' world? Craft projects ranging from 'How to: Make a LEGO Millennium Falcon Ornament' to 'How to: Make DIY Bottled Carbonated Cocktails'. Then there are articles included to 'Inspire' the budding creative male, along with interesting videos and cool items to purchase. I was especially drawn to the article about an artist called Tim Knowles who has created a series of drawings and paintings entitled "Tree Drawings" in which he got various trees to create their own designs. Yes, you read that correctly!
The blog style nature of 'Manmade' makes it an easy site to navigate, ultimately making it a very intuitive site to use. Beyond the 'homepage', the site is broken into four key categories that include 'How-To', 'Inspiration', 'Video' and 'Shop'; all of which are relatively self explanatory. Unfortunately the items listed in the 'Shop' section can't be bought from the site itself as it doesn't have it's own shopping cart section, they have to be purchased elsewhere from other sites.
I personally like the 'Video' section the most. The selections on offer have been very well chosen by Chris Gardner. The only downside is that the updates aren't as frequent as I would like; the most recent post was actually a week ago. Either there isn't enough good material out there or someone doesn't have enough time to keep the postings fresh and up to date, which is a bit of a shame.
'Manmade' is a great looking site. Conceptually it's aesthetics fit in perfectly with the 'craft' based theme of the site. Even though using a wooden veneer as the basis for a sites background is quite cliched these days, it's use on this site makes total sense and isn't just included as a piece of pointless eye candy. The inclusion of various elements of the site on pieces of scrap paper and card works really well, especially as there is a great attention to detail such as the use of staples and hand-drawn social media icons. The logo itself looks great despite being created using a hand written style font. In fact the most impressive part of the sites layout is the fact that despite it's cut and paste aesthetic, it still looks smart and contemporary; very impressive!
I can't ever remember looking at craft based websites in the past and feeling alienated as a male but I suppose if I really think about it some of the things I've come across are perhaps a little twee and 'flowery'. In Chris's endeavors to embrace the male role within the independent craft movement, could he actually be putting women off the site. If so then this could be slightly contradictory to the sites ethos of creating an environment that doesn't put men off; has it become the polar opposite?
All gender issues aside, 'Manmade' is a very nice site both aesthetically and by way of it's interesting content. Both males and females will find interesting things to buy, make and do and I'm sure any user will be happy to come back and visit when ever they're on the lookout for a new project to get their teeth into.