Design For Craft Development

Case Studies, Design, Designers, Organisations, Institutions, Movements, Policy

Design For Craft Development: Strategies For Gujarat Handlooms & Handicrafts

Chatterjee, Ashoke

It is a privilege to be with you today to look at the situation of handloom and handicraft development in our state, and to try together to put design to work for this great purpose. Other speakers have mentioned the key importance of design for marketing success. While this is true, one of the major problems is that these terms --- ‘design’ and ‘marketing’ ---- are little understood and frequently misunderstood. Perhaps the same can be said of ‘craft’ which is such a huge sector and yet commands insufficient attention when one thinks of its enormous importance to Indian life and to our economy. So the first challenge is to sort out the confusion in our understanding of words we use and of the sector we want to serve. Let us begin by looking at the handloom and handicrafts in a national context. Although it is said that craft provides employment second only to agriculture in India, no one can tell us with any accuracy how many artisans are engaged in this sector. Official estimates range from 4 to 6 million. This is a gross underestimate. At best, it applies only to a list of crafts under the auspices of the Development Commissioner. Other estimates range from 36 million to 200 million. If the purpose of all our efforts is ultimately to ensure sustainable livelihoods for people, the challenge of identifying who we want to serve, and whose lives we want to uplift, is clearly a first priority. How can investment be demanded and planned if we are not clear about the scale of the task? It is estimated that the buyer value of crafts is approximately Rs60,000 crores a ye...
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