Living Crafts is a project that brings to the fore and celebrates crafts and the people who continue to practice and evolve it everyday all around us through making, reusing, repurposing, recycling and repairing.
We imagine this as a slowly evolving repository of crafts, craftspersons and communities that are perhaps hidden in plain sight yet continue to have a deep and positive impact on our society and culture. We hope this work can make readers curious and provide inspiration for reviving, revitalising and imagining the future of crafts. This repository documents craft stories from Bangalore, Delhi and Calcutta in India. It also includes a small set of nine stories of craft postcards from the near future.
Living Crafts is a result of a collaboration between UnBox Cultural Futures Society in India and FutureEverything in the UK. This project was made possible by funding from the British Council under the Crafting Futures India-UK Collaboration Scheme 2019-20.
Notes on Methodology
Originally imagined as a project with design research and workshops in three cities in India, the project plans had to be altered due to COVID-19 in March 2020. In an attempt to adapt to completely new circumstances, we went back to asking and answering simple (but now challenging) research questions - How would we find and meet a craftsperson? When and how would we conduct research with them? How would we bring the richness of their stories to life without having a face-to-face interaction with them?
After a series of pilots using a wide range of research tools and techniques, we came to the humble phone call as our main method of conducting research. Alongside the phone interviews, we could engage with a few people who used WhatsApp, which they used to share photos and videos of their work spaces, tools and materials. Sometimes, it was the children who were eager to record and share with us, seeing as they were more comfortable with smartphones and apps. These asynchronous interactions were helpful for the team to make sense of and ‘put a visual to a complex series of processes’, which till now were explained verbally. The shared images also provided context to the illustrator to be able to accurately represent a craft. More can be read here on our experience of conducting remote research.
In parallel, we also interviewed expert practitioners who helped us identify potential themes for further exploration. We used these as starting points in a speculative design exercise, to reimagine the future ecosystems of craft. The worldbuilding deck can be found here and the future stories can be read here.
At the end of the project, we created printed prototypes of these stories and took them to a few crafts persons to seek their feedback and opinion. Read here about what worked and what didn’t.
Finally, while this project is wrapped up, we continue to work with and remain curious about crafts. To find out more about the project or discuss ideas, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.