A first-of-its-kind design school is creating shrewd businessmen in traditional artisans

Somaiya Kala Vidya takes aboard textile artisans across different craft forms and helps establish them. The school offers design and business management courses for traditional artisans of Kutch.

A master’s program underway.

Handicrafts is India’s second largest employer with close to 7 million artisans engaged in diverse craftwork. However, with the Indian market flooding with cheap imported goods from the east, artisans at home are either risking selling their products at low prices or losing buyers for their art.

Without formal training and business education, Indian artisans find it difficult to compete in the market, which often makes them less motivated to pursue their work for a living. It eventually leads to the loss of hundreds of years of technical skills, craftsmanship, and an important part of our cultural heritage.

Acknowledging this situation and rising up to it, K. J. Somaiya Gujarat Trust has set up Somaiya Kala Vidya as a design school for artisans.

Design education for artisans

Somaiya Kala Vidya was founded in March, 2014, with the aim to transform a programme in design education for artisans into an institute. Judy Frater, Ashoka Fellow and Co-founder of Kala Raksha, had developed design education as Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya with her Ashoka Fellowship.

After successfully directing the programme for eight years, she joined forces with the K.J. Somaiya Gujarat Trust, founders of Somaiya Vidyavihar, an educational institute of over 50 years.

A student, and textile artisan, giving his final presentation.

Judy, who has been working with the Kutch artisans for years, received the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002 to establish Kala Raksha…

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