Isn't division between the craft and design is about privilege?

I am trying to brainstorm some ideas about design and crafts in this thread. There are lot of generalisations and speculations here, which means a lot of loopholes in my arguments. And I am using terms that are very loaded. I am not an expert or don’t have any background reading on this. I just want to spark a conversation.

Please jump in and provide your thinking.

There was—still is—a lot of buzz around empowering artisans and craftspeople in the design arena with the rise of design education and design as an industry in Sri Lanka. The premise that traditional crafts somehow inherently lack certain elements that needs to survive and thrive in modern world was popularised over the last decade. In this framework, the ‘lack’ is understood as something artistic and, application of design thinking—another buzzword—is seen as the solution. Design research projects, educational projects and collaborations were introduced as solutions to this issue.

Application of design thinking and design process was seen as the solution to the question of how to take crafts to the modern world. These projects often have the same structure.

  1. Understanding the market and producing something that market is ready to consume.
  2. Provide access to a distribution channels and methods that an artisan by herself can not access.

It is clear that this division of the artisan and the designer is an imposed framework of thinking that was introduced with the market-driven design practise. I am pondering on the question that if the artisan and the designer both given the same privilege would there be a differentiation?

Great thoughts @pathumego.
I would like to know what do you mean by/ how do you define “privilege” in this particular context?

Interesting topic, @pathumego . The attitude of "Let’s save the craft sector from our precious design knowledge"is one of the major criticism currently I have against design schools and emerging designers who start craft-based labels. Unfortunately, I also took part in such a project when I was a student.

First, I agree with your initial idea: “privilege” or power plays a significant role here. Starting from having business connections/skills, language and new technological proficiency etc. More importantly, the privilege of the term ‘design’ has over ‘craft’.

Second, I disagree with labelling privilege as ‘the difference’. For me, craft and designers are two contrast living beings who work on a very different value system (two different worlds).

Here is my analogy, Western Medicine Doctor vs Veda Mahattaya. Outcome-wise they do the same thing; treating people. But their values system and knowledge system are different. So improving one method while believing values/knowledge of the other is contradictory for me. It is like a monotheist start to meditate. No harm, you can do it, but at the same time, it’s useless or contradicting. Monotheism value systems demand a pray. We cannot ask an atheist to pray, just because it works for a monotheist, without converting him/her into monotheist.

Assume that I trained a fish to live without water. It is not a fish anymore. Assume that I make my world fish-friendly by filling water. It is not my world anymore… For me, the same goes for craftsman vs designer.

So I cannot imagine a world where the artisan and the designer are given the same privilege. Only one could survive under a given privilege system. If you make it designer-friendly, an artisan cannot survive. They will play an oppressed role. If you make it artesian-friendly, then there is no demand for designers.

May be …There could be a world, but in that world both artesian and designer terms will not exist. They both have to morph into another new role/name.

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@Alifiya_M : Would love to get your thoughts on this!
Maybe a panel discussion for next year? :smiley: