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 | Dec 18, 2019
Kala Umang! The SKV Class of 2019 Graduates

By Judy Frater | Founder Director, Somaiya Kala Vidya

Ramesh walks the Kala Umang! fashion show ramp
Ramesh walks the Kala Umang! fashion show ramp

 Kala Umang! 2019


9 September 2019- 17 December 2019

“I never wanted my son to become a weaver, but now I will be successful, and I want him to be a weaver too”~Ramesh Bala Vankar, SKV class of 2019

A Note on Names

A key goal of Somaiya Kala Vidya’s education for artisans programs is to bring visibility to unrecognized artisans. Our students and graduates, faculty and workshop participants are proud and happy to be recognized and have consented to have their names share


Somaiya Kala Vidya is an institution for traditional artisans of Kutch, India. Combining over fifty years' experience of Somaiya Vidyavihar University with fourteen 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 are professional 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 motivation to build a movement of Design Craft.



Education for artisans is SKV's reason for being. The class of 2019 completed their design education journey on 14 December 2019. In this period, they held a successful exhibition in Ahmedabad, in which sales were excellent, and customers appreciated the stories behind the collections. They also presented their stories at 079| Stories in Ahmedabad on 16 October. Finally they attended a Sales Analysis workshop, and graduated in Kala Umang! 2019.


The graduation ceremony held in Bhujodi village on 14 December 2019 was presided by Anil Gupta, Professor Indian Institute of Management/ Executive Vice Chair, National Innovation Foundation. The ceremony began with Laxmi Puvar, SKV faculty reading a poem. Other speakers included Dr. Ismail Khatri, SKV Advisor, Shwetha Shettar, SKV Visiting Faculty, Krishna Velji Vankar, SKV 2018 graduate, Ramji Maheshwari, SKV 2014 BMA graduate, and Samir Somaiya, Chairman K.J. Somaiya Gujarat Trust.

All graduating students received certificates from Somaiya Kala Vidya, after which awards were presented.

The jury award for Best Collection went to Jabbar Khatri, Ajrakh printer from Ajrakhpur. Jabbarbhai also won the award for Highest Exhibition Sales. The Best Presentation award went to Ibrahim Khatri, bandhani artist from Nirona. The Most Marketable Collection award went to Ramesh Vankar, weaver from Varnora. The jury deemed two artisans Most Promising: Bharat Jepar, weaver from Varnora, and Nitin Kudecha, weaver from Bhujodi. The Faculty award for Best student went to Rizwan Soneji, bandhani artist from Tera. And this year we were excited to announce a special program initiated by Jackfruit Design. Each year they will give an order of RS 30,000 for their boutique Jackfruit on the Gangato the SKV winner of the Best Collection award.

The 2019 Fashion show was inaugurated by renowned fashion Designer Anuj Sharma, who spoke to the students about the importance of humility. The elder weavers of Bhujodi honoured Founder Director Judy Frater.

Expertly choreographed by Achla Sachdev, the fashion show entertained an audience of around 6,000, mostly members of craft communities of Kutch. More than entertaining, the show inspires artisans to believe that their work is contemporary as well as traditional, and valuable.


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 12-14 September 2019, the flagship Outreach project Bhujodi to Bagalkot exhibited new collections of Ilkal and Bhujodi saris in Hyderabad at Saptaparni. Including 2018 women graduates as well, the show – Bhujodi to Bagalkot, and More- received a warm welcome and a good response. The Bagalkot team sold out their traditional kondi style saris, proving that tradition is perennial. Kutch mentors’ Bagalkot-inspired collections were also much appreciated. The Bagalkot team participated in Kala Umang! 2019 and shared that they are finally committed to making kondi and found a way to streamline the technique to save time!

During this period we were delighted to learn that our Kutch to Kumaon project will resume. Avani partners received a grant that will fund the first course in our Outreach design curriculum. We plan to hold the course in March 2020.


Somaiya Kala Vidya is happy to connect with and develop other efforts in design education for artisans. We are especially happy to be at the forefront in developing co-design, a concept gaining interest in mainstream design institutes.

In our flagship Co-Design program with the University of Wisconsin Madison, a group of 10 artisan designers embarked on the fifth collaboration with UWM design students on 31 October. The design phase of the project finished on 9 December, with exciting fresh designs. Each team made a collection of 6 stoles (carpets for Prashantbhai), and selected 2 for actual production.

During this period we also began a Co-Design project with the Instituto Italiano Designo of Italy, with 7 artisan designers. The Italian students will design garments and SKV artisan designers will complete the ensembles.

We are sure that education for artisans has a tremendous positive impact. But proving it to the world requires data. On 31 October we initiated a value-based impact assessment, conducted by cultural economist Dr. Priyatej Kotipalli. Dr. Kotipalli and team interviewed 25 graduates over seventeen days, with videography. We look forward to sharing the results on our YouTube channel. One thing that impressed him was that we have built an institution. To this end, during interviews of 2020 candidates we decided to explore holding management workshops for graduates, co-taught by our master artisan advisors. We are also working with Design Craft Association members to officially register the group in order to be able to operate a business.


Two SKV alumni, bandhani artist Hadika Khatri and weaver Ravji Meriya received Gujarat State awards for craftsmanship. This year, Adil Khatri, bandhani artist, and Pachan Siju, weaver, and Dinesh Siju, weaver were juried into the prestigious and highly competitive International Folk Art Market| Santa Fe. Their collections were selected out of 577 applications.

On 27-28 September SKV Visiting Faculty member Shwetha Shettar represented the institute at Outlook Traveller’s Responsible Tourism Forum in Shillong and Guwahati.

Founder Director Judy Frater presented on education for artisans to Ahmedabad University on 16 September, to Auro University Surat on 24 September, and to ITTC Congress at M.S. University Baroda on 3-4 October. She was a guest lecturer at NIFT Gandhinagar on 15 October and spoke on sustainability to students of Mahatma Gandhi School Ahmedabad on 16 October. She was recognized by Conde Nast Traveller India as one of 50 champions of sustainable tourism for the SKV Open Studio tours.

After 14 years of building the design education program, Frater announced that she will retire from directorship of SKV in May 2020. She will be succeeded by Nishit Sangomla, who joined as Assistant Director on 1 December 2019. Nishit is deeply interested in education for artisans and has worked with rural artisans at Barefoot College in Tilonia Rajasthan, Himalayan Blooms in Uttarakhand, and Naropa Fellowship in Ladakh. We welcome Nishitbhai and look forward to continued growth under his dynamic leadership.



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. From 4-24 November we conducted our fourth 21-day Craft Traditions course in Ajrakh hand print and natural dye. Three creative women representing 5 countries learned printing and dyeing from four master Ajrakh designers in the traditional way- by experience, with expert guidance. The first thing they learned was the complexity and sophistication of a craft tradition. After that came washing, mixing materials, printing, watching, printing. The course included a two-day session in cultural context and aesthetics, in which they visited villages of the original Nodhe and Patel clients. The course conjoined with a week-long workshop in Ajrakh and ended with a final review. The tutors’ verdict? Passed with honours! “We have had a wonderful enriching time,” one student wrote. “The sustainable textile conversations will inspire me for weeks. We are hoping to make it back together next year for more!” 

In November 2017 SKV launched Open Studio Tours in Bhujodi and Ajrakhpur. We began our 2019-20 season with tours on 8 and 9 November and received our first booking through Airbnb for January. Workshops are scheduled on demand. Special Open Studio Tours can also be organized. Proceeds from both workshops and Open Studio tours support SKV programs, insuring financial as well as cultural sustainability. For more information contact


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

Find SKV on Instagram!

On 6 July 2018, SKV began a YouTube channel.

We have 9 videos on our channel, all providing important insights on craft in Kutch today.

SKV is on Trip Advisor, and our Open Studio Tours are the first and only Airbnb Experience in Kutch!


DESIGN CRAFT Association

Design Craft Association was formed to foster a community of artisan designers and offer them a presence and a platform. It provides artisan designers with a great opportunity to present their brands, under their own labels.

You can meet Design Craft artisans on the SKV website. We welcome you to log onto Under Design Craft you will find a map, and a link Design Craft Members that will take you to profiles of each artisan designer. We password-protected the profiles. You will have to register to view them, but it is an easy procedure.


10-12 September SKV Outreach Exhibition, Artisan-to-Artisan Design 2020

15-17 October SKV Design Student Exhibition 2020, Ahmedabad

5 December Kala Umang! 2020


SKV's Governing Council includes Shri Samir Somaiya, Amritaben Somaiya, Lt. Gen Jagbir Singh, 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; Ali Mohammed Isha -bandhani artist, Bhuj; Umar Farouk Khatri- bandhani artist, Bhadli; Dr. Ismail Mohammed Khatri – Ajrakh artist, Ajrakhpur; and Shyamji Vishramji Siju- weaver, Bhujodi.


On 13 March 2017 SKV posted a project on Global Giving. Global Giving makes donation easy. To kick off our project, in March 2017 we met a challenge by raising US$ 6,563 from 43 donors. Today, 108 donors have raised $15,613—more than enough to fund an entire class of our sincere and talented artisan students. This greatly encourages Somaiya Kala Vidya and increases our visibility immensely.

During the period September-December 2019, our project raised $252- enough for a co-design project with SKV and American students.

Thank you Global Giving!


The class of 2019 has graduated with flying colours. They now look forward to showing their work in urban markets. In January 2020 they will participate in Dastkar’s annual Design Fair in Delhi. The capacity of artisan design graduates has surely increased. Yet the visibility of Somaiya Kala Vidya is limited, and artisans are still widely perceived as skilled technicians. We hope that our value-based impact assessment will make an impact and increase understanding of the value of craft. We look to insuring that there will be a market to value small production quality craft designed and made by artisans. Together we can insure a sustainable future for craft traditions.


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

Jabbar wins awards for Best Collection/Best Sales
Jabbar wins awards for Best Collection/Best Sales
Imran walks the Kala Umang fashion show ramp
Imran walks the Kala Umang fashion show ramp
The SKV Class of 2019
The SKV Class of 2019
Bhujodi to Bagalkot team triumphs in Hyderabad
Bhujodi to Bagalkot team triumphs in Hyderabad
Presenting weaving traditions in Open Studio Tour
Presenting weaving traditions in Open Studio Tour


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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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