Shken.in - Craft Community Collectives

Design of an entrepreneurial model in product development and strategy for the marketing of handicraft products in northeast of India.

The paper discusses rationalising visual design decisions with respect to the arrangement of 2D elements in a pre-defined finite space. The context lies within the work of a graphic/communication designer creating visual arrangements with a designated purpose of communicating the intended message. // Design for craftsmen
(RTI) Restrained Technology Intervention, Handicrafts of the northeast, Branding for craft-products, Make in INDIA.


The northeast states in India are home to diverse ethnic communities who excel in bamboo and cane crafts. Often located in remote villages these communities lack access to commercial urban markets. Economic growth suffers and the community fails to translate its crafts into a successful enterprise. This paper presents design-led interventions that were initiated by a design team amongst such remotely located craft communities in the northeastern hill state of Meghalaya, India. ‘Restrained Technology Intervention’ (RTI) model was adopted that enhanced productivity and quality standards but retained the skill sets of the artisan community. A comprehensive community development plan was outlined that included skill assessment, craft training programs in productivity enhancement methods following the RTI approach. A branding and online marketing plan were developed which considered employment opportunities for the educated unemployed youth of the state.
Market testing was undertaken with sample production of the newly designed products to verify their acceptance amongst two leading retail-marketing agencies in the country. A unique initiative in compiling a database of the craft community resulted in celebrating the identity of individual craftsman in that collective. It was envisaged that this intervention would result in bringing a sustainable business enterprise that gave direct access to every member of the craft community collectives across the state.

The paper suggests that this entrepreneurial model in product development and marketing of handicraft products can be adopted as a policy initiative for the growth of the handicraft and the handloom sector. In the Indian government’s new thrust on ‘Make in India’, such an inclusive approach has the potential to generate economic growth opportunities for the vast pool of highly skilled craft communities spread across the country. 

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Prof. Avinash Shende
Dr. Avinash Shende
Product Designer 
Faculty, IDC, IIT Bombay
Prof. Ravi Mokashi Punekar
Prof. Ravi Mokashi Punekar
Product Designer
DoD, IIT Guwahati
Mandar Rane
Prof. Mandar Rane 
Communication Designer
Faculty, IDC, IIT Bombay
Presented at the INTERNATIONAL conference (ICDHS), Taipei
Rane, M. Mokashi, R, Shende, A. “Design of an entrepreneurial model in product development and strategy for the marketing of handicraft products in the Northeast of India,” International Committee on Design History and studies (ICDHS), Taipei, 2016 (Conference Proceedings)