Spielwarenmesse: Interview frechverlag: the DIY movement is getting younger and younger.

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Movers & shakers

Interview frechverlag: the DIY movement is getting younger and younger.

from Ulrich Texter

With its TOPP brand, frechverlag is the market leader in the field of books on creative crafts. Their product range covers the entire spectrum from activity books for children to helpful guides for adults. With its keen sense for trends and topics, the publishing house is a real trendsetter in the creative industry. We spoke to its managing director, Dr. Bernhard Auge, about this new affinity for "being creative", the internet as a source of inspiration and sewing as the new yoga.

Mr Auge, are all those people who love DIY, knit, crochet or bake with their friends and family really happier, like you promise in your book "Glück. Selbstgemacht!" (Happiness. Home-made!)? I make, therefore I am?

frechverlag Dr. Bernhard AugeDr. Bernhard Auge: Once, people used to make things themselves out of pure necessity. Now it's just fun to do it yourself, to make something with your own hands that you can show or give to someone else. It makes you happy. I think that we humans, deep down inside, are really "craftsmen" who love thinking something up in their minds and then making it real with their hands.

DIY is also the perfect pendant to an office job. Very often people work all day at their computers and in the evening they don't know what they really achieved. If you complete a creative project, you can actually hold something in your hands at the end of it - that of course arouses a feeling of happiness.

According to the IFH Institute for Retail Research in Cologne, the handicrafts market saw a real boom in 2014. Is this trend continuing in 2016?

B.A.: Absolutely! We are observing that the interests are shifting somewhat and do-it-yourself can be seen in more and more aspects of life. Things like knitting and crocheting which were really big trends in 2014 are still popular but they were overtaken by sewing in 2015.

New as well are colouring books for adults and creative baking. For a lot of people baking has become a real hobby where optics play an important role. They bake impressive cakes and gateaux, beautifully decorated cupcakes, macaroons and lots more. Traditional cakes but with a surprising difference.

The creative scene itself is also amazingly creative with its names. Current trends and techniques are called Viking knitting, Tunisian crocheting and animalistic handicrafts. Could you explain?

B.A.: Viking knitting is an ancient technique using a Viking knitting dolly, a simple round wooden stick, with which you can make beautiful and delicate items of jewellery out of decorative wire. Tunisian crocheting is also a very old handicraft technique. A special crochet hook is used that is longer than the average crochet hook. The finished piece of crochet work looks like knitting which is why Tunisian crocheting is sometimes called Shepherd's knitting.

Animalistic handicrafts refers to the trend to knit or crochet animals. These are very popular at the moment. In our product range we have the crochet minis, Wollowbies, "HäkelzauBären" (lots of crocheted bears) and the animals respectively birds from Edward’s Menagerie called "Edward's freche Tierparade" and "Edward's freche Tierparade - Vögel" with their great personalities.

"Do more yourself" is also what internet start-up sites like Masterclass, Makerist or Supercraft are promoting and they even offer online video courses. Are DIY enthusiasts experiencing a second spring as a result of digitization?

B.A.: The internet is definitely firing the trend. It has put DIY back in the limelight and offers creative blogs and communities as platforms where DIY enthusiasts can network and even learn new creative techniques in online video courses. It also complements printed matter very well. In our books, customers can also find a code, for example, so that they can use the digital library on www.topp-kreativ.de. Here they can watch a video demonstrating the more complicated instructions, for example, or download templates for the projects described in the book.

Through our Facebook communities Mitstrickzentrale (for the knitting community) and Bastelzentrale (for the DIY community) kindred spirits can share their ideas and present their completed projects from the books to the community. Our "Mach was" (Make something) app is also another very good way of doing this. Creative minds can upload photos of their projects onto the platform www.machwas.de, share them with other people and collect hearts (Likes) or give them to other people. The more hearts you collect, the more free instructions are unlocked in the app.

frechverlag has over 100 titles in its children’s creative programme. What is popular with kids at the moment?

B.A.: Just as with adults, there is a definite trend towards colouring with children. But not just ordinary colouring: Colouring books on magic paper where pretty patterns appear during colouring or "book plus" products that can be used for handicraft work are also big trends.

And what's popular with boys? They aren't usually so interested in crocheting.

B.A.: Books like "Bauen, Tüfteln, Selbermachen" (Build it, make it, do it yourself!) or "Schnitz mit!" (Let's carve!) are popular with boys. Get outdoors, be creative and do experiments. That's what boys want.

The Initiative Handarbeit, an association of handicrafts suppliers in Germany, writes that a lot of sewing courses for children are booked out weeks and even months in advance in many places. Is the DIY movement getting younger and younger?

B.A.: Yes, we can really see that happening. Sewing is especially popular with the young and very young generation. Making something that is really original and stands out in the crowd - that's what they really like. Away from mainstream towards more individuality.

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Author of this article:

Ulrich Texter

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