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:
- Identify: To identify current scenarios and needs in the context of craft mainly by primary and secondary research to understand the craft and craft practice in depth and through various other investigative methods.
- Define: This stage talks about defining the exact requirements and interventions that go into delivering any craft training program. This is to formulate the program, based on the research in hand and having identified the needs of any particular building craft.
- Deliver: To understand the various ways in which a given Craft Innovation Training Program will be executed. It discusses, what are the methodologies that can be explored and also how to go about conducting and supervising a particular innovation program.
- Assess: To harness the learnings of the entire program conducted through observations & feedback and make sure that they are utilized during the next Craft Innovation Training Program.
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
- Ideation & brainstorming: In order to design a modular system, one needs to have a single module which can be replicated using various methods. While designing the single module the dimensions of a single module were of critical importance since at a larger scale it was going to be made into a partitioning system. Variations of form, methods of bringing it together, materials for joineries for each module to module were tried.
- Exploration & creation: The first set of modules were developed as basic curved modules were made which were then cut into halves once they were semi-dried. Along with that holes were made onto the exact centers of the two sides for the rope to pass in. The second set of modules were the ones that were for the middle layer. These modules were made into four different types with each having grooves and form different from the earlier module. These were then calculated accordingly for the final 4’ x 4’ installation and produced. The final installation was fixed through a series of permutation and combinations of these two modules.
- Ornamentation & firing: All the modules were dried for two days in the sun, and then were painted with the colour and traditional patterns. For these modules, gheru (red clay) powder was mixed with water and applied onto the modules. After drying they were rubbed with a piece of cloth to get the shine. The patterns were painted in white and black onto the modules after a layer of gheru was applied. These colours are in a stone form which is mixed with water and painted using brushes made from the date tree. Once the modules are decorated they are arranged into the kiln for firing. The kiln used for this firing was the smaller kiln. The modules were arranged according to the sizes in the kiln, covered with various cardboard and glass wool pieces and the waste terracotta pieces.
- Installation: The 4’ x 4’ installation was used to divide the working space and the semi-open space outside the craft person’s house. A Pegboard was made in the workshop and was taken to the craft person’s place. Different methods were explored to tie the modules to the pegboard. Each module was tied separately to the pegboard with the thread as the pegboard system gives the freedom to explore various possibilities of arrangement of the modules.
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
- Ideation & Making: Various traditional forms were explored for finding a form that fits a cladding system. The modules were to be designed in a way that it facilitated the cladding. The half-cut form of Tavdis, a traditional serve-ware was used. The half-cut Tavdis were again put under the sun to dry for 2 days. Abdullah bhai measured the Tavdis once dried, as they shrink due to the water that evaporates.
- Ornamentation & firing: The modules were dipped in gheru and then patterns were made with white and black colours using stone powder. This was then fired. The modules were arranged according to the sizes in the kiln, covered with various cardboard and glass wool pieces and the waste terracotta pieces.
- Installation: The modules were joined together and reinforcement bars were fixed in the modules of different sizes with the help of cement mortar. Curing was done to bind the cement mortar. To prepare the wall surface for cladding, marks were made on the wall according to the arrangement of the modules. Holes were drilled on the wall and were cleaned with water. Cement mortar was filled inside the drilled holes. The cement mortar was applied on the edges of the modules. They were then fixed in the wall. The modules were fixed in descending order. Larger modules were fixed first, then the medium modules and lastly the smaller modules. After the completion of cladding, it was cured again to bind the cement mortar with the wall and to make the cladding strong.
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.
- Rishav Jain, Assistant Professor at Faculty of Design, CEPT University and Senior Researcher at DICRC facilitated a session on the aspect of design and the implication of crafts in the field of architecture and interior design.
- Nisha Vikram, Founder of Craft Canvas, helped the craftspeople understand marketing strategies and the importance of branding.
- Chirag Jobanputra, Founder of 39 shops conducted an interactive session to create awareness about e-commerce and social media. As part of the session, he along with the craftspeople created an online retail platform for the terracotta crafts of Gundiyali, on which they are already selling their products.
- Snehal Kashikar, an independent ceramic artist introduced the craftspeople to new tools and techniques used in the craft.
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.
Craft Innovation Training Programme
Craft Innovation Training Programme
Craft Innovation Training Programme by Team DICRC
What is Design? by Rishav Jain
Marketing plan for Gundiyali terracotta cluster by Nisha Vikram
Internet and technology by Chirag Jobanputra
Aadh: a modular partitioning system
Tarkash: a modular cladding system
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