Saturday, August 29, 2009

Indo-Finnish Design for Maheshwari Sari Weavers

Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh is the home of one of India's finest handloom sari woven with distinctive designs. As is the case with many handloom clusters in India, for the issues of sustainability of traditional form of weaving, it has become necessary to search new design idioms that could connect with the aspirations of modern consumers in high-value markets for the benefit of the traditional weavers.

In a unique initiative for extending cutting-edge design support to the Maheshwari weavers, the idea of bringing together designers from Finland and India was explored. The initiative is led by Liisa Piitulainen-Numminen and Amita Sahaya through Findia Foundation, New Delhi. The seeds of this project were sown about a year back in a round table at the Finnish Embassy in New Delhi where some well-known Design experts from both the countries participated and discussed the strategy and level of this international partnership. The project is being supported by the Office of the Development Commissioner, Handlooms, India. The idea is to carry out contextual product innovation and create new market linkages for Maheshwari fabrics. This collaborative project between Indian and Finnish designers and the crafts persons involves:

  • Innovative Product design
  • Knowledge-exchange between India & Finland
  • Assimilation of Indian traditions and the user-centric approach of Finnish Design
  • Exploring high-end value segments in export markets
  • Introduction of design innovations for greater penetration into the domestic market
  • Sustainable approach to Maheshwari fabrics, with particular focus on women weavers to enhance their opportunities and empowerment

First set of new design collections are now ready to be launched at Habitare Fare ’09 from 9-13 September 2009. I am happy that the design intervention makes comprehensive use of the ideas and approaches discussed in “Indian Saris: Traditions – Perspectives – Design” and has benefitted.

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