Is it élitist to design for a relatively small section of the population?
I don’t think it is élitist to design for a small section of the population at all. Morris knew that hand craft skills were in danger of becoming lost and in some ways he was right. We are loosing a lot of the core traditional skills, skills that not so long ago everyone would have been able to do such as sewing or knitting. These skills are still valuable and have a place within production, but they can go hand in hand with Industrial processes too. Hand producing anything is always going to be a more expensive way of producing anything, but it is often better made and with care will outlive any machine made equivalent. Rather than being seen as élitist we should encourage people to see the value in initially spending more and owning classic style that will last for years.
Are handcrafted artefacts simply a luxury for those who can afford them?
No hand crafted items don’t always have to cost a lot it really depends on the item. But with skill, hand crafted items can be home made. This is happening a lot more, expensive hand crafted items are bought by those who can afford them but people are making similar items for themselves.
Do designers have a moral responsibility to make their designs available to a mass audience?
Absolutely not, if a designer chooses to created a range for a different budget that is a choice but they should not feel obliged to compromise their designs or quality to appeal to a wider market. I also think that in some cases appealing to a mass audience in this way can cheapen a brand or product by loosing the aspirational element.
Is industrial production incompatible with meaning?
I don’t think industrial production should diminish meaning. If an idea is strong enough the process of production shouldn’t stop the idea or meaning from coming through.
Buying ethically does not always need to be expensive. Locally bought items can often be cheaper. Shopping around helps, it is possible to find affordable ethical items but the issue here is time and sadly it takes determination to buy ethically. Having ethical ideologies also means thinking about things in a different way. It often means buying quality over quantity, being imaginative and trying to make some items yourself, reusing or reutilising items, not wasting and not buying unnecessarily.