Local needs and Global desires

Britta Kalkreuter, Chamithri Buddhini Greru

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


There is renewed interest in combining traditional and contemporary making cultures for textiles (Ravetz et al. 2013), but while resulting design collaborations might freely use terms like design responsibility, cultural appropriateness and authenticity, due concern is not always given to how systematic differences between craft and design might effect this cultural exchange.
This paper investigates attributes of craft and of design with a view to identifying socio-cultural differences according to context of production. An ethnographic approach was taken to compare craft intervention projects in Sri Lanka to a Scottish/ Indian residency. Participant observation, interviews and content analysis from practitioner logs reflect makers’ and designers’ engagement with traditional skills, under influence of western design practices and markets.

Contrasting the experiences from designer and maker perspectives in both settings brings to attention how differently local needs and global desires can be reflected in seemingly parallel projects: The transnational residencies between India and Scotland highlighted making practices that thrived on exchange of knowledge within and beyond communities whereas the observed communities in Sri Lanka had largely replaced an inherited craft tradition by division of labour and jealous guarding of design skills more akin to behaviour in the industrial revolution.
Originality/ value
This research has implications beyond the confines of craft survival, as results may serve to inform designers to re-think craft engagements in the Global fashion arena. A need for such expression is in demand within global consumerism when fashion trends occupying traditional skills are supposed to create and evoke artisanal values through products (WGSN 2014, CBI 2014)
Keywords: craft communities, design interventions, commercial drivers, making traditions, meaningful craft
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventGlobal Fashion Conference-Rethinking Fashion and Textile - University College Ghent, Ghent, Belgium
Duration: 20 Nov 201421 Nov 2014


ConferenceGlobal Fashion Conference-Rethinking Fashion and Textile


  • craft communities
  • design interventions
  • commercial drivers
  • making traditions
  • meaningful craft


Dive into the research topics of 'Local needs and Global desires'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this