Date of this Version
Published in The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global; Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 16th Biennial Symposium. Presented at Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 19 – 23, 2018. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
There is no word for design in India, creativity and making are intertwined. Craft and culture are inseparable, yet craft practice has become both a cultural and increasingly financial activity. The income from crafts in India is estimated to be only second to agriculture, yet many artisans still live in poverty. Precedents for designers working with artisans in India to develop products for both local and global markets have proven successful. Different types of co-creation (sometimes called co-design) activities have been documented between both local designers and local artisans, and, between foreign designers and local artisans. Although the outcomes of such collaborations may be new products, few of these projects considered the development of long-term livelihood opportunities for the Artisans. Fewer still propose respect for the skill and identity of the artisan as key objectives. This paper will discuss findings from a study investigating opportunities for different types of designer and artisan engagement via co-creation. The study was comprised of a review of Designer-Artisan co-design precedents and a series of interviews with Artisans in India. Findings from the juxtaposition of the precedents study to the interview results, revealed a series key objectives and concerns the Artisan’s held that had been previously under reported in literature. Including, but not limited to, recognition and respect of their skill, desire for creativity and intrinsic relationship between a sense of self-identity, cultural-identity and craftwork. Therefore, based on these findings, a new framework for understanding the potential co-creation opportunities for Designer-Artisan collaboration was developed. Inspired by Human Centered (HCD) and Socially Responsible Design (SRD) approaches, this model identifies different types of co-creation interactions, each requiring the designer and artisan to play different roles in developing livelihood opportunities through craft practice without sacrificing artisan empowerment or culture.