Design intervention has been an established initiative of development projects initiated by Governments and NGOs across the world as a means to enhance market reach and the livelihood of craft communities. However, these multiple initiatives which are meant to support craftspeople and their communities often end up benefiting the designer’s and other commercial interests. Innumerable instances have been cited by craftspeople and others on the ethics of engagement where design development of craft traditions has ended up publicizing the designer while the craftsperson has continued to remain unnamed and unknown.
In the design world, practitioners and students are well aware of the moral issues and laws governing copying and design infringements. Design practitioners use all means to protect their designs and ideas as they are alert to their moral rights, economic benefits and future business potential. However, the same level of rigor does not seem to always apply when the designers deal with traditional craft communities.
While marketing pundits eulogize brand identities and designer products are the current rage, charges of cheating and infringement of design are not infrequent in these circles and counter-charges grab headlines. However, amidst all this babble of newsprint and televised footage, there is a marked absence of any mention of copying associated with the many hundreds of indigenous crafts and textiles that exist in this country.
Is this deafening silence because there is no copying of these hallowed traditions? Or is it because there is a widely ac...