Following on from last week's article on the Dutchmann Weekend Racer, we give you part two, explaining a little bit more on the Dutchmann Guild as a whole.
When asking ‘What does the Guild actually do?’ Dutchmann describes itself as follows: “We connect master craftsmen with contemporary designers & artists, creating collaborations that fuse craft-based practices with progressive ideas.” The guild creates beautifully engineered products, with an incredible amount of attention to detail, for people who appreciate the craft, by people who appreciate the craft.
The objective was to develop unique collaborations that would highlight the high level of quality craftsmen they have in South Africa. Founder, Gavin Rooke, felt that a contemporary design/art ‘twist’ would make people look closer at certain crafts (and craftsmen) that they would normally not notice.
The aesthetic impact of anything touched by the Guild hits you straight away; Classic, yet contemporary. Striking, yet subtle. Its care, attention and craftsmanship all comes together in each one of their diverse range of products, running across a few industries, including surfboard shaping, illustration, motoring, bicycle building and design.
The name ‘Dutchmann’ comes from the term ‘Dutchman’ often derogatorily applied in the past to blue-collar South African artisans, and refers to the Dutch-settler ancestral roots of various South African families. They wanted to take that relatively negative perception and flip it to represent a positive, intangible ‘guild’ of craftspeople, with a network of twenty-odd designers who they call on.
The reality is that 95% of Dutchmann’s output is now Porsche-based. The Guild didn’t plan this, but it’s turned out that way based on the success of the 912 Weekend Racer (and the recent launch of the WRS). There’s certainly a pleasing aspect of authenticity to this fate–as opposed to a marketing-engineered brand story.
Uniquely, Dutchmann doesen’t build cars to a client specifications; they identify Porsches they want to build, and clients must concur before ordering a vehicle. Dutchmann handles the underlying concept, design, and specifications for each car they build. First identifying the underlying model for a project and determining ‘conceptually’ what the resulting story will be. This may be the ‘Weekend-racing’ heritage of the 912, the lightweight nature of the ‘73 RS, a celebration of the Targa roof, or even the highlighting of the true beauty of the impact bumper. They told us this may eventually change, but it’s how it works at present.
Whilst the Guild will continue to produce a range of craft-meets-design-inspired products, inevitably, they will take on a progressively more ‘Porsche-related’ spin.
One of the reasons the Guild is able to produce such high calibre vehicles is that network of individual craftsmen focused specifically on what they are good at. For example, one member is a highly skilled, experienced restorer–but doesn’t pretend to be a body specialist, nor an interior specialist, nor a carbon specialist, etc. These roles are handled by respective experts.