Education  India Project #26908

Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India

by Somaiya Kala Vidya, a division of K.J. Somaiya Gujarat Trust
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Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India
Design Education for Artisans of Kutch India

Project Report | Jun 15, 2018

By Judy Frater | Founder Director, Somaiya Kala Vidya

SKV and Avani artisan partners show new layouts
SKV and Avani artisan partners show new layouts


 “Artisan partners learn.  I used to want only easy work.  Now that I am independent, I like challenging designs.” ~Pachanbhai, Artisan Designer mentor in Outreach Project

PROJECT REPORT  19 March-14 June 2018

Somaiya Kala Vidya is an institution for traditional artisans of Kutch, India.  Combining over fifty years' experience of Somaiya Vidyavihar with ten years of design education for artisans, it offers sustained, coherent programs in design and business to provide effective, relevant and practical education. SKV honors and incorporates existing traditions.  Its advisors are Master Artisans.  Its faculty includes national and international educators. SKV offers workshops to the world and courses in craft traditions taught by artisan designers. Artisan-to-Artisan Outreach programs and Co-Design Collaborations demonstrate the importance of education for artisans, and generate awareness and motivation to build a movement of Design Craft.



Education for artisans is SKV's reason for being.  The class of 2018 began their design education journey on 15 January 2018.  By now, we have completed four of six courses, with plenty of wonderful new ideas.

Course 2018-3 M- Market Orientation

Lokesh Ghai, design educator extraordinaire, taught the third course, Market Orientation. In this course, students learn the role of the market in developing contemporary work. The centerpiece is a three-day trip to Ahmedabad.  Before going, the students learn to understand costing by making a meal together, and then reviewing all of the costs that went into it.  This also prepares them to consider perceived value and value for money during their days in Ahmedabad.

Anas- “We saw shops like I have never seen before- all different.  We looked at factors like service, display.”

Vasim- “From the trip to Ahmedabad, I felt my work could go in some shops.  I liked making a client board.”

Ramesh- “We learned that costing relates to clients.  I would sell the same stole at the same price.  But I would sell different products to different clients.”

Course 2018-3 W- Market Orientation

Taught by Visiting Faculty Tanveen Ratti, who returned after a decade, the SKV women’s class of 2018 also enjoyed learning about costing, value and variety.  They created a meal planned with a colour scheme! In Ahmedabad, they explored shops and visited the homes of craft aficionados. On return, they analyzed from every possible direction.

Both men’s and women’s sessions included a day long workshop in fibers and strutures taught by MS University Baroda Faculty Dr. Falguniben Patel.

Hadika- “I learned about tradition from the Calico Museum. We learned about consumers, display, and fabric.” 

Krishna- “We went to homes to know how customers live, what they like. I learned by observation and drawing.”

Muskan- “We learned costing, customer’s preferences, fibers/ fabric.”

Course 2018-4 M- Concept, Communication, Projects

NID graduate and Visiting Faculty Anjani Kumar taught both sessions of course four. Beginning the second half of the year, this course brings together colour, basic design and market orientation, focused by a chosen theme. The men explored the international trend forecast for fall-winter 2018-19. Each chose a colour palette he liked, and then they all worked to make sense of the colours and concepts in their own world.  They took field trips for inspiration, made installations, and re-named their themes.  Then they made theme boards and layouts, and finally began sampling motifs and layouts in their craft media.

Husen- “It was new to work within limits.  Getting motifs was difficult.”

Prashant- “I enjoyed making the installation; working in 3D was fun.”

Vasim- “Taking a subject we can go forward… if I take this theme I can reach to America!”

Course 2018-4 W- Concept, Communication, Projects

The women dived into the trend forecast and themes.  Choosing some of the same themes as the men, they of course each had a unique interpretation.  After a field trip to Bhuj that included photographing activities at the bus station, they created installations, theme boards, motifs and layouts, and worked out motifs and theme colours in their respective media.

Hadika- “A trend forecast teaches us to work within limits. I learned to innovate from a theme.”

Taina- “Getting a theme from a colour story was new. I liked the installation best, getting ideas as I went.” 

Krishna- “The theme board helps us remember.  I learned how many motifs and patterns you can get from an idea!”

Muskan- “At first I thought the colours were difficult, but then I realized we can do something different. With concept it’s easy to make motifs, and clients will become interested hearing a story.”  


Somaiya Kala Vidya Artisan-to-Artisan outreach programs share the benefits of artisan education. Artisan Designer graduates work with artisans in less exposed areas- as a kick-start to demonstrate that innovation in traditions, and design education are beneficial. From 28 March to 1 April, Team 2: Puroshottambhai and Niteshbhai, with Program Coordinator Pallavi Gaur, conducted a booster concept development workshop in Bagalkot with the Jeevadaara team.  The weavers reviewed last year’s sales in Chennai. Overall sales were excellent- 50% more than expected.   100% of the traditional kondi saris- with joined silk-cotton warps- sold!  The team concluded that kondi saris were a hit.  “When the customers looked at the kondi saris in the exhibition, in one glance they could identify these as traditional Ilkal saris,” Danesh observed.  

And yet, only Danesh wanted to produce them. After a long discussion, drawing on analysis of their experience, the weavers decided that they could increase the price of these labor-intensive saris, and finally agreed again to produce kondi saris. Development is a slow, patient process: two steps forward, one step back.  But Jeevadaara will surely take their tradition forward.  Purshottambhai further made the important observation that because he took time to make a fresh new collection for the show, his sales were also excellent. So the team got to work, choosing colour stories and making layouts for what promises to be another super show in Chennai this September.

We are thrilled to begin a new Outreach project with Avani in Kumaon!  From 7-19 April, a new SKV artisan designer team, Pachanbhai and Rajeshbhai, along with veteran faculty Lokesh Ghai, conducted a workshop on the Avani campus and beyond.  The challenges are that the women weavers have left their tradition long ago, and the sheer difficulty of navigating in the beautiful but isolated terrain. Our team began with research, which they all love.  They discovered the beauty of simple utilitarian traditional weaving.  Overcoming cultural and gender barriers, as well as wariness of “training,” the SKV team succeeded in enthusing the women weavers, and building their courage.

“We had to teach,” Pachanbhai said.  “At first it was hard teaching principles of design.  We had to really get a grasp on what we knew.   But the women understood, because we taught in their language- not just Hindi, but the language of craft.” “They thought their natural dye colours were limited and people don’t like them,” Rajeshbhai related.  So he wove them a sample with his ideas on combining colours.  This inspired the women to try some ideas of their own.  Then the workshop gained momentum.  In our Outreach work, artisans are teaching artisans, without either necessarily being able to read or write. Nonetheless, it is real education.  The Artisan Design graduates have imbibed a philosophy of education as well as facts and tricks.  And they can share it.  They question, they research. They understand the process of design.  In teaching, they realize new capacities, and the deep satisfaction of releasing creative potential. 

Three of the six Avani weavers, Pachanbhai and Rajeshbhai attended a jury for the workshop samples in Delhi on 30 May. Asaf Ali, Kiran Rao and Pradeep Pillai reviewed their work and gave feedback for developing a collection for the September Chennai exhibition.  Look for an unprecedented show!


SKV is happy to be at the forefront in developing co-design, a concept gaining interest in mainstream design institutes. To conclude the second phase of the SKV- University of Wisconsin Madison

collaboration, Dr. Jennifer Angus, Faculty of UWM, received a grant to bring two SKV participants for a special program in Madison in early April.  Sadly, Prakashbhai did not receive a visa.  So Zakiyaben and Judyben represented SKV.  Madison was bitter cold and Zakiyaben experienced snow for the first time, as summer set in in Kutch.  Our team toured the Wisconsin capital, and small towns beyond.  At the University, Zakiyaben conducted two live co-design sessions in the Global Artisans course, meeting many of last year’s long-distance co-design partners face to face.  She also taught a two-day bandhani studio class.  Finally, Judyben, Zakiyaben, Dr. Jennifer, Ericaben, and Griffen- a co-design partner, presented a panel on multi-faceted experiences of co-design. The beautifully coordinated and touching program previewed a panel on co-design that the SKV-UWM team, along with Prof. Katherine Bissett-Johnson, will present at the September Textile Society of America conference.



Since its inception, SKV has been raising awareness and value for artisans' traditional knowledge and skills by conducting workshops and courses taught by artisan designer faculty. 

In November SKV launched Open Studio Tours in Bhujodi and Ajrakhpur. Our first season had officially closed on 10 February, but we did two additional custom tours on 20-21 March for Devika Daga, and 27 March for a group of 35 people led by Jaqueline Lundquist and Ganeve Rajoktia.

A few weeks later, artisan designer participants from Bhujodi and Ajrakhpur met to review the year. The discussion began with dreams and goals of exposure to better markets, and covered how the participants have begun to organize and improve their experiences.  The meeting was about not only Open Studio Tours, but also Artisan Designers and their market.  In just one season, Open Studio Tours have provided learning for visitors.  (“It is totally jaw dropping to be educated on the complexity of Ajrakh printing and weaving techniques of Bhujodi- and all of the innovations!”) As we had hoped, they also provided learning for artisans.  Artisan Designers have learned about being responsible, working together, and managing this project.  They are taking ownership. They are thinking of the visitor’s experience. And they are learning to overcome inhibitions and communicate.  

Proceeds from both workshops and Open Studio tours support SKV programs, insuring financial as well as cultural sustainability. For more information contact us.


On 3 April 2018, Artisan Designer Dahyalal Kudecha received the Crafts Council of India Kamala Award for Contribution to Craft and Community, and Artisan Designer Adil Khatri received the Craafts Council of India Young Artisans Award- an award specially created for him!

On 10 June, Adilbhai and Purshottambhai, who received a World Crafts Council award for his work in 2016, were both invited to present their life stories as inspiration for Josh Talks.  Look for news of these talks to be uploaded on YouTube!


Browse the SKV website.

Learn more about our work on our facebook page. 

For a discussion on issues of art and artisan, follow Judy Frater's blog

And now, find SKV on Instagram!


The Somaiya Agencies' innovative business to complement SKV's educational programs, Design Craft, offers a juried selection of artisan designed and created textiles, bringing the best in contemporary craft to one platform.  It provides artisan designers with a great opportunity to present their brands, under their own labels, and it will fund SKV's education for traditional artisans with the profits from sales. Currently, 69 artisan designers are represented.

You can meet the Design Craft artisans on the SKV website. We welcome you to log onto Under Design Craft you will find a map, and a link to profiles of each artisan designer.  A work of art in itself, the map with artisan designer logos is also available in hard copy.

Design Craft's flagship shop is located in Somaiya Bhavan, 45-47, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Post Box No.384, Fort, Mumbai. Phone: +91-22 61702273.


6-8 September 2018- Artisan-to-Artisan Design exhibition, Chennai

27 October 2018- SKV Open Studio Tours begin

1-4 November 2018- SKV Design Class 2018 collections exhibition, Ahmedabad

8 December 2018- Kala Umang! 2018- Convocation and Fashion show, Kutch


SKV's Governing Council includes Shri Samir Somaiya, Amritaben Somaiya, V. Ranganathan, Mitenbhai Sachade, Judy Frater, Anjana Somany, Lokesh Ghai, and Irfan Anwar Khatri. 

The institute is also advised by a team of visionary Master Artisans, who guide us in honouring and nurturing textile traditions: Gulam Hussain Umar -bandhani artist, Bhuj; Dr. Ismail Mohammed Khatri - block printer, Ajrakhpur; Shyamji Vishramji Siju- weaver, Bhujodi; Umar Farouk Khatri- bandhani artist, Bhadli; and Ali Mohammed Isha -bandhani artist, Bhuj. 


On 13 March 2017 SKV posted a project on GlobalGiving.  GlobalGiving makes donation easy. To kick off our project, in March 2017 we met a challenge by raising US$ 6,563 from 43 donors. Today, 58 donors have raised $9,226—almost enough to fund an entire class of our sincere and talented artisan students. This greatly encourages Somaiya Kala Vidya and increases our visibility immensely.


The class of 2018 has begun what promises to be another amazing journey of design and personal growth.  Our artisan designer graduates demonstrate that design education makes a difference.  As our cadre of Artisan Designers grows, SKV looks to insuring that there will be an appropriate market to value small production quality craft. Together we can insure a sustainable future for craft traditions.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”~Mahatma Gandhi

SKV 2018 students created a meal to learn costing
SKV 2018 students created a meal to learn costing
Ajrakh 2018 students sampling new layouts
Ajrakh 2018 students sampling new layouts
From paper to loom!
From paper to loom!
Presentation of theme for final collection
Presentation of theme for final collection
Live Co-Design - SKV with UW Madison
Live Co-Design - SKV with UW Madison


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Organization Information

Somaiya Kala Vidya, a division of K.J. Somaiya Gujarat Trust

Location: Adipur - India
Facebook: Facebook Page
Somaiya Kala Vidya, a division of K.J. Somaiya Gujarat Trust
Judy Frater
Project Leader:
Judy Frater
Founder Director
Adipur, Kutch , Gujarat India

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