The Importance of Design

Day 2 of the Artisan Toolkit team's trip to Kabul

As we drive around Kabul visiting artisans it becomes very clear how important market-driven product development and design is, and what happens when artisans don't have it. Most artisans and crafts businesses have high levels of technical skill and talent in their particular craft, but if the embroidery is not the right colour, the thread not good quality, or the fabric on which it is embroidered unfashionable, even exquisite embroidery cannot save the product. The advantage of being in a big city like Toronto or New York is that even when you go to get a cup of coffee, design inspiration and market information is all around you. We see what people wear, what they like to buy, and why. For an artisan in Kabul this information is not available and it is therefore not evident what styles buyers abroad want, in what colour and size. This is what thirty years of war will do to even the most entrepreneurial business - broken trade relationships, little tourism, and no real flow of market information. This is also where we can play a role! Far & Wide has begun to link up with designers who can help redesign or tweak the products our partner artisans are producing. So far it has been very popular and it is clear that we will be going home with a large number of design challenges.

Stoorai, third year student at Turquoise Mountain, showing us some of her new jewelry designs.
Click here for more information about the Artisan Toolkit. 

Hedvig Christine Alexander
Hedvig Christine Alexander

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