Throughout our interactions with more than 100+ buyers, marketplaces, and artisans, we came to the conclusion that craft techniques and products must evolve with the times. We had two important questions;
How can we develop a model that stimulates and guides the craftsmen’ creative thought in addition to providing context-based design guidance?
How can we subtly improve the aesthetics while cooperating ethically with the artisans when crafts have inherent traditional and socio-cultural value?
Our design mentorship program makes an effort to provide answers to these questions. It is based on our conviction that for craftspeople to discover their own voice and set themselves apart from the competition, they require market exposure and contextual design.
The program matches artisans and urban designers with aligning practices with a focus to provide deeper hand-holding to artisan groups where design guidance and mentorship could really help the clusters sustain the craft and find better market and sale opportunities.
The collaborations initiated through our the program look at craft beyond products and delves deeper into processes, techniques and socio-cultural contexts.
During this 3 month long mentorship, each pair of artisan-designers, meet online and offline, discuss challenges, assess needs for innovation, study market trends and co-create products that focus on the novel possibilities that the the craft has to offer to stay relevant now and in the future. And finally take the new designs to the market with the help of our market hub, the designer’s connections and the artisan’s patrons.
Program Details :
AIM: to provide deeper handholding to artisan groups where design guidance and mentorship can help the artisans sustain the craft practices and find better collaboration & market opportunities.
DURATION: 3 months
MEDIUM: Phygital (digital engagement + on ground visits)
FOCUS AREAS: Material/process improvement, tools update, form and functional update, improved finish and contemporary product application- depending on the initial assessment.
PROCESS FLOW :
- Design Needs assessment for each group- artisans to submit existing designs, pictures of the process and finished products for the sake of documentation.
- Signing MoU with each group.
- Each group match-made with a designer based on expertise, interest and experience.
- One on one introductions between designer and artisans.
- Followed by designer’s onground visit to the artisan/ artisan group.( this visit can happen 2-3 online meetings later, if the designer feels so)
- Designer to work as a mentor to each artisan group to guide/inspire them to create designs that suit buyers/ consumers, yet true to the essence of the craft. However the main aim of the collaboration is not to create a collection but to inspire each artisan to innovate within their skillset.
ELIGIBILITY : To be able to go through the mentorship process, the artisan/artisan groups must have basic digital skills (to operate Zoom/Google Meetings and Whatsapp). The artisan should be willing to engage ethically and respectfully with the CD team and design mentor and do the prototyping of solutions/new designs as per their discussion with the mentor. Due to the phygital nature of our engagement, we would only like to work with traditional artisans at the moment.
Stakeholders and their roles
CREATIVE DIGNITY :
- To effectively map the needs of the group, through one on one conversations and needs assessment.
- To matchmake the group with a committed and experienced designer from its pool of designers with diverse expertise.
- To oversee the process flow as the facilitator, and support the artisan and designer with raw material for sampling, and market intel, documentation etc.
- To document learnings, outcomes from each group’s journey and feedback from both the artisan and designer.
- To actively link the artisans to market channels to help them understand the relevance and impact of design mentorship.
- To refine the model/methodology as more proof of concept emerges.
- To empathetically assess the artisan’s skills, understand their needs and mentor them to achieve the desired outcome with their design expertise.
- To document the journey with the help of the CD team and guide the artisan to work on one-two new design directions based on their discussions.
- To realistically and honestly share their current product line, challenges, needs and aspirations with the CD team and their mentor.
- To openly discuss ideas, constraints with the design mentor and diligently try to make the most of their time by openly collaborating and experimenting with ideas/techniques.
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