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.


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.