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 12, 2017

By Judy Frater | Founder Director, Somaiya Kala Vidya

SKV class of 2017
SKV class of 2017

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 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 2017 began their design education journey on 19 January 2017. Eleven weavers, Ajrakh printers and bandhani artisans have joined to expand their creative capacity. This year, we again enjoy a wonderful harmony of diversity. In each craft, we have a highly experienced artisan, a fresh entrant to the craft, and a mid-career artisan. This summer we completed three classes of our six-class Design for Artisans course.

 Course 3, Market Orientation, was taught by Risha Roy, NID and NIFT graduate, currently Faculty at Nirma University, from 17-29 March 2017.A field trip to Ahmedabad to explore a range of markets is the centerpieces of this course. To prepare the students, RIsha had them collectively make lunch for the SKV team- and then cost and analyze the experience. In addition to enjoying a meal just the way they like it, the students learned to think broadly about the details that go into production, presentation, and creating value. On return they reflected on the shops and individuals they had met, segmented the market, and planned work to target individuals and shops. Feedback from the clients for whom they were intended has been enthusiastic.

"I never saw shops like this in this way. Now I can begin to see what different clients want."- Akram

Course 4- Concept, Communication, Projects, was taught by veteran faculty Anuja Goel 10-22 April 2017. Anuja began by introducing the students to trend forecasts, and developing theme boards with found materials. The students then each selected a theme from the LA Colours Spring-Summer 2018 trends, and re-interpreted it from their own experiences. The class took a field trip for inspiration, sketching and photographing several locations. They developed theme boards. But it all became clear when they began practical experiments on themes and layouts in their own media.

"I learned to work within limits, and learned how to take inspiration into craft."- Khalid

Course 5- Finishing, Collection Development, was taught by veteran faculty LOkesh Ghai from 11-24 May 2017. In developing collections, SKV uses a co-design method, collaborating with students from MS University Baroda. This year, Kriti Sharma, Bhumika Prajapati, and Yash Lalvani worked with the SKV students, along with pattern master Virendra Vegad. Again, we posed the challenge of production friendly, sustainable designs. The MSU team developed products with minimal stitching, and creatively taught a range of draping methods. We immediately decided to hold draping workshops during the students' exhibition and sale in October; the MSU team is delighted to participate. Such are the relationships that develop when teams work together, and this is the essential foundation of successful co-design. Many times the working relationship extends well beyond the class. LOkesh had students make actual size layouts to economize the learning curve on scale and proportion. By the end of the class, everyone was ready to produce his final collection.

"It is difficult to understand in small size, so full size was useful. Draping gave me ideas for layout,"- Shamji


Somaiya Kala Vidya Artisan-to-Artisan outreach programs share the benefits of artisan education and begin to practically scale the Design Craft movement. Artisan Designer graduates work with artisans in less exposed areas- as a sort of kick-start to demonstrate that innovation in traditions, and design education can be beneficial. The programs culminate in an exhibition sale. Thus, all participants earn through sale of the products developed. The pilot Bhujodi to Bagalkot project is completing four years this fall. Nine weavers from Kamatgi, in Bagalkot District, have completed a condensed, tailored version of the SKV Design course. This year, in April we held a Concept Development workshop, taught by Srishti faculty Swati Maskeri, to prepare for the annual exhibition. This year too, Puroshotam Premji and Nitesh Namori are serving as the Bhujodi team. Puroshotam and Nitesh brought fresh perspective and enthusiasm, and helped solve persistent technical problems. Proactive and enthusiastic themselves, the Kamatgi team had already ordered yarn, so the workshop focused on colour interaction.

We held a second workshop on Marketing, taught by veteran faculty Shwetha Shettar, in June. Shwetha analyzed the four years of work. Ninety percent of the saris the team has produced are sold. Orders are pending. Fabindia and other reputed companies have sought them out. Many challenges have been faced and met. The final one was how to make the essential kondi system- joining cotton warps of the body with silk warps of the pallav, viable. It came down to starching the cotton yarns. So we invited women who know starching to teach the Kamatgi women. Done. And suddenly our project is winding down. The weavers are ready to run their own business, which they have branded Jeevadaara (Threads of Life).

At the end class, Shwetha asked the nine graduating weavers what they would like to see in their future. All of them resoundingly said, "We want to weave!" Not one mentioned personal fame or fortune. All of them wanted to see the name of their village, Kamatgi, known and respected. They wanted more weavers to join them. They wanted their weaving to be marketed around the world. They had learned to love their tradition, the greatest success we could have had. Next stop is the exhibition in Chennai, at Folly Gallery, Amethyst, 7-9 September. After that, the world is the limit.


SKV is happy to be at the forefront in developing co-design, a concept gaining interest In mainstream design institutes, and is seeking to build collaborative alliances. The

SKV- University of Wisconsin Madison collaboration resulted in excellent fresh samples. On April 30, these were showcased in the UW Threads fashion show, Ensemble. (watch it on YouTube and sold in a concurrent exhibition.

Founder Director Judy Frater attended the event, and spoke about the project at a pre-show VIP Reception. Later this year, UW Madison will bring a new group of students on board for a second, more involved co-design project, culminating with two of SKV participants traveling to the USA. We look forward to developing this program in the near future.



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 2017, after conducting two pilots, we will add Open Studio Tours in Bhujodi and Ajrakhpur. SKV is developing a map locating artisan designer participants. On designated days, November through February, visitors can meet these artisan designers, learn about their traditions and see their latest designs.

Participants in workshops, courses and tours learn the richness of living traditions. And proceeds support SKV programs, insuring financial as well as cultural sustainability.

Workshops and courses can be arranged on demand.

For more information contact


Founder Director Judy Frater and Dr. Jana Hawley published a chapter "Craft's Path to the Luxury Market: Sustaining Cultures and Communities Along the Way," in Sustainable Management of Luxury, ed. Miguel Gardetti. Singapore: Springer Nature, 2017.

Meet SKV Faculty and master weaver Dahyalal Kudecha, bandhani maestro Abdulaziz Khatri, and ajrakh wizards Juned and Sufiyan Ismail Khatri at the International Folk Art Market| Santa Fe, 14-16 July.

SKV welcomes NIFT intern Tejashree Anchan, who will work with us for June and July.  Tejashree comes from the Fashion Communication course and will do this year's SKV calendar, posters and invitations for our exhibitions, and more!

SKV ONLINE is showcasing special events. Look for an exhibition/ sale of all new designs from SKV Design Craft Association members Dahyalal Kudecha, Nitesh Namori Siju, Basir Fakirmamad Khatri, Juned Husen Khatri, and Mubeen Abdul Gafur Khatri in July.

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


The Somaiya Agencies's 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, 56 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 profiles of each of the artisan designers. 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.


14-16 July 2017- Meet Dayabhai, Abdulaziz and Juned at International Folk Art |Market Santa Fe

7-9 September 2017- SKV Outreach Exhibition- Folly Gallery at Amethyst, Chennai

12-14 October 2017- SKV Design students' Exhibition- Aamra Gallery, Ahmedabad

25 November 2017- SKV Convocation Kala Umang!



SKV's Governing Council includes Shri Samir Somaiya, Amritaben Somaiya, 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: Ali Mohammed Isha -bandhani artist, Bhuj, Umar Farouk Khatri- bandhani artist, Bhadli, Dr. Ismail Mohammed Khatri - block printer, Ajrakhpur, Gulam Hussain Umar -bandhani artist, Bhuj, 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, we met a challenge by raising US$ 6,563 from 43 donors, in March. This greatly encouraged Somaiya Kala Vidya and also increased our visibility immensely. Funds will be used to support this year's class of 11 sincere and talented artisan students.


Just one course remains for the class of 2017, and the students will immediately have their final professional jury. Incorporating jury feedback they will revise their collections, take a workshop in production management, and produce their collections for an exhibition/ sale in October. This show and the Outreach show in Chennai in September will show craft lovers the importance of design education, and the value of artisan design.

We look forward to continuing to break new ground for craft and artisans, creating value for design craft, and a sustainable future for craft traditions.

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

-Mahatma Gandhi

Amirbhai and Khalidbhai develop ajrakh concepts
Amirbhai and Khalidbhai develop ajrakh concepts
Shamjibhai presents his collection concepts
Shamjibhai presents his collection concepts
Vahabhbhai reviews a test fit
Vahabhbhai reviews a test fit
Hamzabhai and Kritiben, co-design partners
Hamzabhai and Kritiben, co-design partners
Kamatgi and Bhujodi weavers- ready for Chennai
Kamatgi and Bhujodi weavers- ready for Chennai


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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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