Craftspeople still practice crafts as a live tradition and/or as an economic activity. Crafts in India has been continue to contribute to design education in numerous ways. In fact, the very approach to design education in India was laid on the foundations of crafts practices in the country.
Traditionally, crafts were produced and managed by the craftsmen themselves. However, “globalisation” demands innovative products, materials, and processes with new standards of quality and creativity. Today, due to changes in social set ups, culture and economy, the crafts and the crafts persons are increasingly becoming vulnerable to new realities. Though the strengths of Indian handicrafts is increasingly being recognised, but the qualitative market intelligence flow between market-place and the crafts persons has not kept pace with the new environment. Besides, quality of production, approaches for further market development, protection of traditional wisdom and practices through IPR, sustainability, crafts promotion, etc. are the other aspects that need to be addressed for effective growth of Indian handicrafts.
Though study of traditional crafts has been part of design education for several decades now, the need for innovative and contextual design intervention methodologies is continuously been growing. Since its inception, National Institute of Design (NID) has been playing a key role as a catalyst in development and promotion of design in Indian handicrafts Industry. This proven experience in the area of crafts along with an innovative approach to develop such a programme has helped connect the sector to the mainstream of economic development taking place in India besides adding value to design education in the country.
A variety of other institutional formats exist in the country that deals with education, training & human resource development for crafts, each of which has their own inherent advantages and disadvantages. However, the development of an appropriate model with futuristic vision would contribute highly in achieving the cutting edge that the new generations of craft practitioners require to lay foundations of crafts and creative industries in India.
These pressing needs have led NID to set up a dedicated center called International Centre for Indian Crafts (ICIC) with the primary aim to effectively understand the needs, strengths and weaknesses of crafts sector and apply NID's interdisciplinary design expertise and knowledge base for capacity building and skill up gradation of artisans with a Global - Local approach. The unique approach is to develop a national and international network for Crafts Design Research, Training and Knowledge Dissemination for providing collaborative and sustainable linkages to the Indian crafts sector.
The paper will deliberate and describe the authors’ experience in setting up of this unique center dedicated to the crafts and crafts communities of India.