Weaving with Rush: Exploring Craft-Design Collaborations in Revitalizing a Local Craft
Fang-Wu Tung


It is possible to create a synergy between industrial designers and artisan groups to stimulate the development and preservation of a local craft in a sustainable and commercially viable way. This study aims to explore how designers may collaborate with artisans to unearth new opportunities for a local craft and how designers can make contributions to the artisan community. Rush-weaving is a traditional local handcraft practiced by generations of Taiwanese artisans using indigenous materials to make functional and decorative items. To research the possibilities of a craft-design collaboration, a monitored project was conducted, where local rush weavers and design students worked together to create new product concepts. As a result of the collaboration, seven design concepts were proposed to expand this traditional craft into contemporary markets. Drawing from the collaborative experience, this study proposes a craft-design collaboration process to form the basis of an approach for local craft development and sustainability. Knowledge gained through this activity suggests that the concept of craft product design is embodied by combining what is desirable in craft with what is possible through design. This study reveals that designers can play a catalytic role in facilitating the propagation of local craft knowledge into other industries. This can cultivate the local craft industry and empower artisans to further their own innovations. This paper highlights the value of the alliance between craft and design as a mutual learning mechanism, where both sides can exchange knowledge and enhance their professional capabilities.

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