Home > Design, Ideas > Putting the community back into design

Putting the community back into design

Kumbham.jpgHope in the shadows.jpg

At either ends of the world efforts are being made to include and empower communities for their future benefit.

‘Hope in shadows’ is a portrait calendar project run by Pivot, a legal society in Vancouver, Canada. For 3 years pivot have held a photography competition and published the top entries as a calender. As an innovative approach to empowerment through art, the calendar was designed to give marginalised people the power to define their own identity, and to offer an opportunity to showcase their talent and potential. 150 contestants, all low – income residents of vancouver’s downtown eastside, received a free black and white disposable camera and were asked to document their daily lives, with a focus on the themes of community and relationships.

Kumbham (meaning clay pots), is run by K.B Jinan form India who calls himself a craft activist/designer. He works with traditional crafts people to help rural communities concentrate artistic expression and has expressed the dangers of a globolised aesthetic and teaching processes on smaller communities;

“all the design, architecture,and art workers are influenced by western idioms of beauty, aesthetics etc…… all forms of expression are becomming western. What is culture? What is originality, authenticity? Of cource these are difficult questions and probably in the present commercialised world, are irrelevent unless
there is big money involved. Art, history, design, architecture – the way it is taught – alienates, creates a sense of inferiority. We must bring our own history into the curriculum, or else history should be completely left out, otherwise it’s teaching can be dangerous”

Kumbham presents the story of an artisan village recapturing the craft they had almost lost, and who redefine themselves in a contemporary world. It’s the story of a community rebuilding around a skill and regional craft in the face of advancing changes that had all but forced it’s poorest women into prostitution for lack of income and it’s the story of reclaiming dignity and the rehabilitation of a community.

There are unresolved problems however, especially thoseoriginating from the dichotomy prevailing between the cultures of the producers and consumers of kumbham-ware. Indeed the long-term prospects of the kumbham project will depend to a large extent on the degree to which consumer cultures are replaced by more humane ones that are keenly aware of the inter-dependent nature of the survival and evolutionary needs of the species.

It’s a humble plea in a world that waits for no-one.
Both via designboom

Categories: Design, Ideas
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