Project #3860

Design Education for Traditional Artisans in Kutch

by Kala Raksha
Sep 6, 2013


Monghiben walks the Mumbai fashion show ramp
Monghiben walks the Mumbai fashion show ramp



"There was excitement!  We had visibility and came closer to our goal of being own designers.  We should have a fashion show every year!"

-Ramjibhai, KRV graduate 2008

 "You need enthusiasm to make something new. The workshops helped people learn the value of hand work."  Monghiben, KRV graduate 2010


In 2010, Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya launched the concept Artisan Design, to raise the value of artisan creativity.  On 17 August 2013, KRV made a dramatic debut in Mumbai.  For the first time, women embroiderers and men weavers, block printers, bandhani and batik artists worked together consciously to co-create contemporary work-- full circle on their ancient collaborative traditions.  And for the first time, KRV took our annual fashion show out of Kutch. Twenty-one KRV graduates presented thirteen new collections at a fashion show held at Good Earth, Lower Parel, followed by an exhibition at Artisans' gallery, Kala Ghoda. Titled Co-Creation Squared, the events fulfilled Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya's desire to re-integrate concept and execution in textile arts, on multiple dimensions.

Many creative, dedicated and generous people contributed to our success in Mumbai.  Anjana Somany, long time supporter of Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya, dreamed of bringing artisan design to the world- and worked tirelessly to produce it.  Designer Anju Modi gave the artisans inspiration with silhouettes and patterns. Anita Lal made it possible when she offered our team the beautiful Good Earth venue.  Utsav Dholakia gave the show its rhythm and form, and Ilesh Shah shot footage for a new film, which was screened. And of course the design graduates of KRV joined minds, hearts and hands to create all new collections.

Artisans' Gallery hosted KRV's first exhibition in Mumbai, and helped organize a selection of KRV workshops with artisan designers.  We thank Radhi Parekh and her team for their dedicated, passionate efforts. Artisans' has succeeded in raising the profile of craft to the level of art, infusing the craft sector with appreciation and economic well being.  Sales were excellent and, significantly, new designs clearly outsold older ones.  The workshops were over booked. Two small but important breakthroughs indicate the success we have enjoyed.  At the end of the show, we realized that very few customers had felt the prices too high; some even commented that prices were reasonable.  On the long continuum of hand craft, KRV artisans' work is now being compared not to production craft but to designer work!  The second triumph came when both Monghiben and Hariyaben shyly said they wanted to make collections for this year's KRV fashion show-- and that they were considering starting their own production!

The highly successful events fittingly launch a plan to concentrate on marketing the work of KRV artisan designers next year.



By now, five of six KRV courses are complete and the artisan students are earnestly working on their final collections.

Course 4- Concept, Communication, Projects was taught by NIFT graduate Anuja Goel and KRV veteran visiting faculty member, LOkesh Ghai.  In the men's class, the artisans learned about fashion trends, chose a theme, and delved into it

Sajanbhai- "I learned you find design in anything if you concentrate on it."

Adilbhai- "I actually dreamed my theme board!"

Then, they experimented in the KRV studios.

Shafikbhai-  "I've worked many years, but I never did so many experiments.

If we do it ourselves, we understand, and can change it as we like."

In the women's class, Lokesh made several important innovations, which enabled the women to bypass the tendency to express theme in a narrative manner. 

This year, the women created new motifs for their themes in a larger, tableau format- more like their traditional way of working.  And they sketched layouts in full scale before beginning studio work.

Lakhuben- "When we try something new, things come from inside to out."

Zakiyaben- "Working in larger scale, we understand how it will work."

Hasuben, this year's Course 4 mentor, summed up the importance of design:

"Before any work we have to think, compose, choose colours.

Next, we do the work, keeping it in reasonable quantity, but insuring that it shows more, and is good quality.

But first is thinking."

Course 5- Finishing, Collection Development was taught by Sanjay Guria, NID Faculty, and veteran KRV visiting faculty member Shweta Dhariwal.  This year, the KRV men students collaborated with graduates and fellows from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Ankita Patadiya, Arpita Desai, and Sneha Limbadiya. The design students from diverse backgrounds quickly came to the common ground of design, and creatively developed collection concepts.  Learning from each other, seeing with fresh perspectives, the teams cam up with some simple twists on traditions.

As they made patterns and prototypes, the excitement built until each KRV student eagerly went home to take craft to new dimensions.  We now anticipate fresh innovations on age-old traditions.

Sajanbhai, KRV -"Planning is necessary.  In this class I understood planning."

Arpita, MSU- "Partnership required understanding. Both partners have to be interested and happy."

Shweta was also joined by students from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda- Bhargavi Modi, and Mansi Shah.  The team took the women from their homework experiments on apparel and home furnishing to determining and planning a collection.

The women learned machine and hand finishing, and decided the products they wanted to make. The MSU students created patterns and test fits, which were finally edited.  Then, together, the KRV and MSU students worked on colours, fabrics and layouts. We await their final products as well.


KRV welcomes Nilanjan Mondal as the new KRV Project Leader. Nilanjan comes with the experience of the Kaivalya Education Foundation Gandhi Fellowship, hands-on training in development organization and leadership.   He came to KRV in May for an orientation, in which he was introduced to key philosophies, programs, and associated personnel.  In July, he joined the institute and launched straight into coordinating the Mumbai events, proving himself a team player and a valuable addition to the KRV staff. 

2008 Graduate and Permanent Faculty member Dayalalbhai Kudecha has been invited to represent India in Cusco, Peru in November at Tinkuy de Tejedores: an international gathering of weavers. KRV Director Judy Frater will be a keynote speaker at the event.



As the final course of the year began, KRV enjoyed a visit from a group of students of the National Institute of Design.  The teacher, a supporter of our work and sometimes KRV faculty, saw the homework of a current student and commented, "He must have worked with a Fashion Week designer."  In reality, he is a fresh artisan, son of a traditional artisan who chose not to practice the hereditary craft!  This defines our challenge: to change perceptions to the depth that people no long find good artisan design surprising.

Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya continues to focus on building links through which KRV graduates can develop their capacity as designers and find new and better markets.  This year, women graduates worked virtually with a team of students from Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne to develop products. The exchange was mutually beneficial-- KRV graduates learned to work from paper concepts, and young designers working with KRV them learned to appreciate artisan capacity and to work in more collaborative ways. Building on this experience a second group is set to work with KRV graduates.

Four workshops are planned for Fall 2013-winter 2014, and a range of new programs is under consideration. For information on offerings, please download our workshop proposal or contact

In July, Anjana Somany of Mangotree, and KRV Director Judy Frater directed Co-Creation Squared: Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya Takes Artisan Design to the World, a ten minute film focusing on developing the concept of Artisan Design. Screened at the fashion show, the film is now available.


Aakib Ibrahim Khatri, graduate of 2011, has been invited to participate in an Artists Residency in Australia, as a follow up to an Australia-India residency held in Delhi last year.

KRV online

KRV has a brand new Facebook page!

In September 2012, Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya enjoyed a feature by Jessica Marati "Teaching Design," in Hand/Eye magazine.


The Indian financial year spans between April 2012 and March 2013. This year, we have the challenge of raising over $62,000 to operate our program.  Last year, nearly 6% of our annual budget was raised through individual donations. As we move into the second half of 2013, with the major expense of our annual Convocation Mela coming in November, we thank Global Giving and hope that our supporters will think about making a tax deductible gift!  


After Kala Raksha's board of Master Artisan advisors met and brainstormed on the future of KRV, the newly constituted KRV Futures Committee held its inaugural meeting to discuss options. As KRV has focused on becoming more self-sustaining, opportunities as well as challenges are coming our way. In the next year we envision significant and positive growth for KRV.

Financial sustainability is always a huge challenge for an educational institution.  We welcome from our supporters entrepreneurial ideas –and ideas for increasing visibility.

Again we thank you, our supporters.  With your support, KRV will realize its mission of relevant, genuine education for traditional artisans, and its dream of growing from a program to an institution!


Ismail Mohammed Khatri - block printer, Ajrakhpur

Shamji Vishramji Vankar- weaver, Bhujodi

Lalji Vankar - weaver, Nirona

Gulam Hussain Umar - tie dye, Bhuj

Ali Mohammed Isha - tie dye, Bhuj                                                                    

Umar Farouk - tie dye, Badli

Qasimbhai - batik, Mundra



Prakash Bhanani, Kala Raksha Co-Founder and Chief Executive

Judy Frater, Kala Raksha Co-Founder & Project Coordinator, KRV Project Director, Ashoka Fellow

Ashoke Chatterjee, Previous Director, Crafts Council of India

Nita Thakore, Textile Artist, Faculty Pearl Academy of Fashion, Jaipur  

K.V. Raju, Faculty, Institute of Rural Management

Rajni  Patwa, Architect  

Mira Poonam, Artisan    

Hariya Uttam, Artisan

Babri Moru, Artisan

Haku Shah, Padmashree, Artist & Historian

Jayanti Nayak, Faculty, National Institute of Design

Daya Dohat, National Awardee, Artisan

Rai Singh Rathod, Tracer, Gujarat Electricity Board, Local Guide

Jivaben and Jayantilal, Artisan Designers
Jivaben and Jayantilal, Artisan Designers
KRV graduates thank the Mumbai audience
KRV graduates thank the Mumbai audience
Namaben presents her concept, Summer Garden
Namaben presents her concept, Summer Garden
Adil and Ankita with a kaftan prototype
Adil and Ankita with a kaftan prototype



About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Kala Raksha

Location: ta. Bhuj, Kutch, Gujarat - India
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Judy Frater
Kutch, Gujarat India

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

Still want to help?

Find another project in India or in Education that needs your help.
Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.