The terracotta craft community of Gundiyali is an enterprising community open to collaboration and growth. Over the journey of six years, various collaborative engagements through diverse projects, activities and events have taken place with the community starting in 2014. These include introducing innovation through design and technology, and the approach of experiential tourism among others.

About 2015: Initiating Innovation

Innovation is about adapting practices and creating new ones relevant to the evolving times. By “Initiating innovation” to the craft community, the intention was to discuss the possibilities of craft innovation by adapting relevant new, original and important solutions using traditional techniques and skills at various scales. Traditional craft practices in India are embedded with an inherent empirical knowledge. This knowledge is a holistic and intuitive hold on understanding the relationship between the material skill and the larger context of sustainability. These skills are generally passed from one generation to the next, but in recent times, they’ve been facing serious issues about sustainability and survival.

The craft sector is undergoing a dramatic change which is largely brought about by industrialization, gentrification, mass production, technological advancement and change in societal values which has detached the craftspeople from the main retail market. Hence there is a need for craft and design integration which can become a leverage point and can be used to re-contextualize and facilitate craft rejuvenation with a long lasting impact. The core idea behind training is to bridge the gap between craft and design that is seen in the current scenario. Training was planned to empower craftspeople to immerse and get familiarized with various fields like design, technology, entrepreneurship marketing and new emerging areas of Interior Architecture so that they could look

Craftspeople from Gundiyali participated in various national and international workshops which were platforms for students and professionals from the design and business fraternity, to understand the needs of the contemporary market and align their design practice. This included exposure sessions on marketing, design, and e-commerce.

Project: Craft Innovation Training Program

The project Craft Innovation Training Program concentrated on developing a new range of Interior Architecture products by leveraging knowledge and resources in areas of design, innovation and technology. It was aimed at looking towards the cultural and economic sustainability of the terracotta craft in present-day context. The training program was based on the Craft Innovation Training Model which is a part of the Craft Innovation Training Toolkit developed by DICRC. The training was geared to benefit both the craftspeople and designers, to create a link for collaborative upliftment of craft and design. The initiative was also to sustain the practice, since many craftspeople who were skilled and had been practicing and learning a craft since generations, were rapidly moving away from it for various reasons including cost of materials, less return on investment or simply loss of market. 

The Craft Innovation Training Toolkit
Created based on years of experience and reflection, the IDE2AS Model is a route to conducting a training programme beginning at the grassroot level. It also includes the many mediums of training delivery and how to use each – workshops, collaborations, lectures, seminars, fellowships, etc. However it is important to note that these stages of the toolkit can be modified and experimented with to see what kind of outcome is gained by the end of it. It is dynamic and can be replicated, if needed, by various organisations at various scales.

The IDEAS Model: 

Aadh, a partition system

Aadh is a modular partition system that can be used as an interior architecture element, originating from the Craft Design Innovation process. It was collaboratively developed by Priyanka Shah (an interior designer) with maker Yakkubhai Kumbhar and his family at Gundiyali. It was installed at their house to divide the working space and verandah.

Process of making Aadh

Tarkash, a cladding system

Tarkash is a modular cladding system that can be used for surface treatment in buildings. Tarkash means a vessel that contains all the wisdom, learnings and abilities for a particular craft. Tarkash was co-created by craftsperson Abdulla Daud Kumbhar and Iqbal Abdulla Kumbhar of Gundiyali village and Designer Aarohee Nagecha, and was installed on the wall of their courtyard in the workspace.

Process of making Tarkash

Event: IMIAD Workshop: ‘Conversation with crafts’

‘Conversation with crafts’ was an international collaborative workshop that brought diverse voices into curatorial and craft-design processes. This led to the development of innovative prototypes through the collective knowledge of 50+ national and international participants which included students and faculty from CEPT University, India; SUPSI, Lugano, Switzerland; Istanbul Technical University, Turkey; Hochschule fur Technik, Stuttgart, Germany and about 20 craftspeople from Gundiyali among others. The workshop emphasized the importance of ‘making’ by generating Craft-Design Innovations through collaborative working methods between master craftspeople and designers. The focus of this workshop was on five material crafts – wood, metal, mud, bamboo and textile and surface narrative crafts like madhubani painting, gond Painting and mata ni pachedi.

The International IMIAD Workshop 2015, “Conversation with Crafts” was a part of the International Masters in Interior Architectural Design (IMIAD) offered at Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad. This was a collaborative workshop between the Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre (DICRC), Faculty of Design and SID Research Cell, CEPT University.

As a part of the workshop, a field visit was planned where the Kumbhar community-engaged students in an informative and enriching hands-on experience, explaining various techniques and methods of the terracotta craft practice. Exposure to the craft in its traditional setup, allowed participants to connect better to the work and life of the craftspeople and the craft at large. Two organisations were also included in the site visits, Hunarshala which works for craftsperson Empowerment in Bhuj, Kachchh and Khamir, which works to strengthen and promote the rich craft traditions of Kachchh district by engaging, facilitating and innovating with the craftspeople. Since both the organisations work on the concept of Craft Design Collaboration, students were introduced to various possibilities, issues and challenges that are a part of the collaborative design process.

The hands-on experimentation and exploration were facilitated in the campus workshops which imbibed a unique understanding of the material and its diverse properties in the participants. People from different backgrounds worked together (master craftspeople, craft students, designers etc.) which initiated new discussions and fresh ideas. Through this process, learning happened at both tangible and intangible levels and all the participants were introduced to new larger avenues for innovation and development.

Event: IMIAD Exhibition

The prototypes and products that emerged out of the IMIAD workshop led to an exhibition, which aimed to instigate critical thinking and sensitize the workshop participants as well as visitors about various tangible and intangible core concepts related to craft. The exhibition was designed as a craft ‘Street’ in which each group got a predefined space which they used to exhibit their products, process and the experience as a whole. The installations and products took the centre stage and the process of co-creation was explained using montages and descriptive panels. The video and audio recordings made during the site visits became the perfect backdrop for the exhibition spaces. A considerable amount of space was allotted to patronise the various crafts where the craftspeople exhibited and sold the products they had brought from their respective workshops.

Event: Exposure Workshops

An exposure program was conducted for all the 25 terracotta craftspeople of Gundiyali on the last two days of the Craft Innovation Training Program. Various site visits to design studios and retail outlets including Clay Club, FabIndia and Craftroots in Ahmedabad and were organised as part of the exposure. The craftspeople were exposed to the fields of design, marketing, social media and e-commerce by experts, including Rishav Jain, Assistant Professor at Faculty of Design, CEPT University and Senior Researcher at DICRC; Nisha Vikram, Founder of Craft Canvas; Chirag Jobanputra, Founder of 39 shops; Snehal Kashikar, an independent ceramic artist.

Event: Craft Connect at CEPT University

Various measures were taken to connect the craftspeople to the various stakeholders in the craft-design industry and also to create awareness about the craft. An interaction session was arranged at CEPT University to connect the craftspeople to architects, interior designers, professionals and trade people.

Outputs

Booklets
Craft Innovation Training Programme
Panels
Craft Innovation Training Programme
Presentation
Craft Innovation Training Programme by Team DICRC
Toolkits
Craft Innovation Training Toolkit
Presentation
What is Design? by Rishav Jain
Presentation
Marketing plan for Gundiyali terracotta cluster by Nisha Vikram
Presentation
Internet and technology by Chirag Jobanputra
Images
Aadh: a modular partitioning system
Images
Tarkash: a modular cladding system

Collaborators

Organizers: Design Innovation and Craft Resource Center, CEPT University.
Partners: Manthan Education Program Society India, Ahmedabad
Supporters: Industrial Extension Cottage, A Govt. of Gujarat Organisation; Commissioner & Secretary Govt. of Gujarat, Cottage & Rural Industries Institute of Indian Interior Designers, Ahmedabad, Regional Chapter (IIID- Ahmedabad)
Promotors: i-STED Project, NSTEDB, DST, Govt. of India
Other: Clay Club, Craftroots and FabIndia