A Designer in Development

Codes of Practice, Craftspersons/ Artisanal, Design, Designers, Economics, Employment/ Livelihood

A Designer in Development: New Designs for Indian Craftspersons - Ornamental Irrelevance or a Paradigm for Development?

Tyabji, Laila

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The female octopus is born, grows to maturity, gives birth to her clutch of children, and promptly dies. I often think it must be wonderful to have ones role in life, its purpose and parameters, so clearly defined. I, on the other hand, for the last fourteen years in DASTKAR have straddled, often uneasily, the twin roles of designer and development person.Working in the field of traditional craft, the two are not always synonymous, though design can lead to development, and development should be designed. There is a conflict both of function and responsibility. Whose creativity are you to express, your own or the craftsperson's? Who is your client - the consumer, who wants an unusual and exciting product at the most competitive price; or the craftsperson - who needs a market for his product as similar to his traditional one as possible, so that it does not need constant alien design interventions, or conflict with the social, aesthetic and cultural roots from which it has sprung. Those of us who have gone through a formal art or design education have been taught to realise our own creative imagination to the full, and given the technical expertise and tools to do so. Working with craftspeople, one has to dampen ones own creative flame in order to light the craftsperson's fire. One must push, not pull..... The purpose of ones sample design range is to inspire craftspeople to do their own further innovation, not stun them into passive replication. They must be taught to use their minds and imagination as well as their hands.Craftspeople must be involved in every aspe...
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