Tradition For Modern Times: Selling Yarns workshop

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Here’s an outline for the workshop that’s being offered for the Selling Yarns conference. This will be the first in a series of workshops taking place across the South this year. They will lay the ground for the development of the Code of Practice for Craft-Design Collaborations that aims to bolster the ethical value of the handmade.

Seminar 1: Ethical consumerism – Tradition for Modern Times

How to sustain trust in products developed from craft communities
Cost of seminar: $50.00
Monday 9 March, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

This seminar explores the ethics of craft development and how this can add value to the final product.

Ethical consumerism considers not only the product itself but also the positive impact which purchasing this product has in the world. So, even a global brand like Starbucks tries to demonstrate its fair dealings with third world producers. Ethical consumerism is becoming increasing popular in design, with great interest in stories about how the product was made. The negative impact of sweatshop stories on Nike’s brand has shown how important it is for consumers to know that they are part of a positive process.

Many designers are now working with craft communities, particularly in remote regions where traditional manual skills have not yet been eroded by globalisation. While noble in intention, these collaborations are vulnerable. Designers often have little training and experience in working with traditional communities. Being tied to the fashion cycle can mean that the designer’s involvement in the community is short-term, leaving high expectations and great disappointments in their wake. A few bad stories about craft sweatshops can turn consumers cynical about products that have a ‘handmade by traditional community’ story.

So how can designers develop relationships with craft persons who are likely to live up to consumer expectations and have a sustainable benefit to the community?

This seminar develops principles for the collaboration between designer and craftsperson. While identifying ethical ideals of this collaboration, it is also mindful of the pragmatic issues and the need for all parties to make a livelihood from their work.

The workshop program will include:

  1. Presentation of craft-design case studies from a range of regions and models
  2. Discuss the UNESCO model for Designers Meet Artisans
  3. Present hypothetical scenarios involving role play to explore the different interests at play in product development
  4. Identifying core principles towards a Code of Practice for Designers and Artisans

Intended audience:

  • Designers, including product developers
  • Crafts-persons, interested in working with communities
  • Anthropologists, committed to partnership with their community
  • Retailers, promoting world craft to local market

You can register for the workshop and conference here.

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