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.
“Encouraging community participation” introduced a participatory and inclusive process to foster innovation by a deeper engagement with the community. This being an individual-centric approach, the activities were like a web which repeated, overlapped and coincided to empower the community with craft design innovation skills. In its initial phase, the idea of community driven innovation attempted to harness the skills and aesthetic abilities of the craft community. The idea of this program was to create a repository of product typology and associated narratives in the community using the ‘Self Initiated Challenge’ model.
Project: Tatva – Community driven innovation project
Community Driven Innovation Project is an attempt to initiate an all inclusive and participatory process, bringing together the fields of craft and design. The idea was to engage with the community and foster the idea of innovation within them. The idea of community driven innovation became the basis of the first pilot project with the terracotta craft cluster of Gundiyali, Mandvi Taluka, Kutch, Gujarat.
Self Initiated Community Challenge model (SIC Model):
The Self Initiated community Challenge model is a web-like model which starts with establishing a link between designers and craftspeople, followed by initiating different opportunities, catalyzing ideas, concepts, and thoughts through workshops, exploring, making models, and recording outcomes leading to disseminating the learnings.
Establish relation between designers and craftspeople: The intention of this stage is to engage in discussions and informal conversation pertaining to the craft they practice, the history of the craft, the details about community, the skill set each possess.
Initiate different opportunities for the craft community: Once the relationship and trust has been established, the ‘initiate’ stage gives the participants a deeper insight to the intentions and details about the initiative. This stage usually involves doing detailed presentations about the initiative and also involving as much community to participate as possible.
Catalyse ideas, concepts and thoughts through workshops: The aim is to trigger new ideas and thoughts. This requires deeper involvement from all the stakeholders. The methodology is tried and explained to the participating craft community. The intention is to expose them to a newer method of working and discuss a variety of possible outcomes after varied sessions.
Explore different opportunities for the craft community: This stage tries to generate, gather, activate and catalyze new concepts of thinking and working. This is done through various workshop sessions, studio sessions and informal discussions over tea.
Make new models, sketches, notes etc: The participants were encouraged to work with newer tools and techniques making each product unique from what existed earlier. Before one starts the process of making, each expected outcome shall be discussed at length with master craftspeople and experts. This would ensure that all the technical aspects of the products are resolved and would have limited chance of error in production.
Record the outcomes, stories of the craftspeople: The record stage intends to document all the work done during various stages of the self-initiated challenge. It used varied mediums to record the activities happening during the initiative. This is done through photographic documentation, video recordings, scanning of exploratory sketches, 3-d recording of the products.
Disseminate through exhibition and public discussions: Dissemination can be done through various mediums: exhibitions, publications, videos and a variety of print and online mediums. Dissemination is important, because it gives a platform for all the stakeholders to connect to the public. It also acts as a stage where reflection happens from both the organisers and participants and which is later fed in the forthcoming programs.
Project Activities: The introductory project presentation
The project was initiated with a pre-project presentation gathering around 80 craftspeople from the community for the introducing the project. Previous engagements with the craft community were discussed, further initiating a dialogue about the future set of activities.
looked at harnessing the craft skills and aesthetic abilities that already is inherent to the craftspeople and creating a repository of product typology and the associated narratives that exist in the community. This was delivered using interactive cards, at two levels- theme cards, and action cards. The Theme cards describe the ‘themes’ to be discussed for eg: history, craftsmanship, community and imagination. These cards describe what the theme means and what are the two most crucial questions/queries related to it. The action cards describe the actions to be taken in order to answer any of the queries listed in the theme cards. The basic idea of the theme cards says, History: This theme is about the history of your region, craft and family. Imagination: This theme is about imagination, fantasies and originality. Community: This theme is about your community’s rituals, belief systems and narratives. Craftsmanship: This theme is about your skills, strengths and craftsmanship. With cues for ideation that started with cards, further ideation and development was done by craftspeople to make innovative prototypes and test them for utility, to later be presented.
The National Craft Fair 2016 was organised by INDEXT-C, Government of Gujarat, India and Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre(DICRC), CEPT University was a partner institute. “Prarambh: co-crafting journeys” was part of a seven day long National Craft Fair 2016. There were 1000+ visitors which gave craftspeople the opportunity to share the values imbibed in their respective crafts and interact with audiences and buyers directly, enhancing their business potential.
The National craft seminar, theme pavilion and craft demonstrations were conducted and organised by DICRC at the National Craft Fair 2016. The craft processes play a critical role in development and understanding of a craft; hence the demonstration of techniques is taken as a first step in understanding the tactile aspects of craft. DICRC arranged for the terracotta craftspeople to show their craft skills through the live demonstration and display of their products at the theme pavilion. The craft demonstration was an attempt to create a mutual awareness platform where the craftspeople were exposed to the activities at the Fair and the visitors benefitted by understanding the craft.
Tatva: Community driven Innovation Program- Poster
Tatva: Community driven innovation project with the craft community of Gundiyali
Tatva: Community driven innovation project with the craft community of Gundiyali by Team DICRC
Organizers: Design Innovation and Craft Resource Center, CEPT University, Manthan Education Program Society India, Ahmedabad Partner: Swadesi Suitcase Supporter: NSTEDB / Department of Science & Technology Government of India