Outsourcing the hand: an analysis of craft-design collaborations across the global divide

Article by Kevin Murray, Craft + Design Enquiry (2010)

Worldweave  Dempf

In this article, Kevin Murray discusses three case studies in which Western designers have worked with traditional artisans in India, Pakistan and Rwanda.

Abstract:

This paper identifies a growing trend in contemporary craft practice which involves outsourcing handmade processes to artisans in poorer countries. To evaluate this process, it reviews three case studies: Sara Thorns Worldwide Weave in India, Polly&Me in Pakistan, and Martina Dempf in Rwanda. Each enables different levels of creative collaboration with traditional artisans. While a critical framework is able to be established, there is still a lack of information that comes directly from the artisans themselves.

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The full article is freely available via the Craft + Design Enquiry website

Left: Sarah Thorn for WorldWeave, Acrobat Cushion, 2009, wool felt, hand embroidered. Photograph: James Widdowsen.

Right: Artists of Butare, Rwanda, Untitled jewellery, 2009, natural fibres. Made in cooperation with Martina Dempf, Germany. Photograph: Sebastian Ahlers.