Design and Indian Craft

Luxury is not what is expensive, it is what is scarcely available.

The sight of a Kutchi embroidered clutch in a social gathering against at least a ten of other mechanized Prada and mango clutches indeed makes one emotionally connected to the skill and colors of India. Such is the rich legacy of our country.

Crafts of India narrate a story of evolution, a story of passion and skill, a story of an entire civilization, their beliefs and the change in ideas over time. And still continue to reflect the regional & socio-cultural diversity. These craft traditions act as symbols that communicate age old cultural concepts through iconography and patterned graphics woven with multiplicity of local materials. These crafts, thus, illustrate beyond their basic role of ornamentation and culture.

A ‘craft’, what-so-ever it might be has always been nurtured by a closed community of craftsmen. And due to this limited skill-set available, multiple clusters of the same craft often developed across different regions that interpreted and re-interpreted the techniques impacted by the local factors. Due to this multiplicity and variety that proliferated within the same craft style, none among the all was strong enough to stand the test of time. A new time that brought mechanization with easy and fast availability to all.

one side of the coin was that the machines brought better finishes and cost-effective purchases. It produced stable sources of income who could adapt to it. But for those, who cared much about protecting their crafts in these tough-times were the ones who believed in exclusivity. The true reality of luxury, appreciation and bespoke. These were the people who knew the difference of finer things in life over money and savored it (the craft) over time.

Now since the craftsmen and the craft itself was vulnerable to the new realities, they were trapped in a complex net of globalization that demanded scalability. And both, the restriction and beauty of Handloom is its non-scalable aspect without increasing workforce. Its like wish and a blemish at the same time. To deal with the situation from various perspectives, there are numerous re-arrangements to be made at multiple levels from Design processes to knowledge sharing and design dissemination mechanisms.

Initiatives like “E-Kalpa” by MHRD or the International Center for Indian Crafts at the National Institute of Design have help savor these priceless jewels of time.

People often misinterpret the term ‘treasure’. It has a repeated analogy with expensive metals and objects. What I wish all could understand is that ideal ‘treasure’ is not tangible. In terms of our regular lives it is ‘mindfulness’ and in terms of crafts- ‘SKILL”.

So lets safeguard the appropriate treasures.

Think about it…

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