Educational design research to enable the artisans

Project Context

Craft canvas is an organization that is currently a link between artisan communities and urban customers. To identify the scope of relevant design education intervention that would aim at equipping the artisans to keep up with the evolving market. To make them self sustaining while adding on and honouring their existing knowledge. The research is inspired by the fact that these interventions can help enhance the capabilities of the craftspeople and their communities.

Scope: Patachitra Artisans of Raghurajpur, Odisha

Process Phases




Understanding the



Mapping Challenges

(Practitioners who work/ educate artisans)

Literature Review

Case Studies

Field Visit

Literature Review

Case Studies

Field Visit to local craft schools





Mapping Needs and Aspirations


Data Analysis


Field Visit

Focus Group Discussion

Synthesizing the data to find the gap between the market needs and the aspirations of the artisans. 

Secondary Research


Lack of economic opportunities for the craft sector.

They should be taught in a more local setting rather than a formal school like set up. (Since they don’t have the luxury to leave their homes)

Encourage to collaborate based on their strengths.

Emphasis should be given on communication skills.

Survey Findings

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Virtual communication and understanding is an issue. They require more personal interactions. 

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Artisans are low on market knowledge and their own USP. 

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Rigid with their ways of working.

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There is a communication gap between the designers/ educators and the artisans.

Primary Research Findings

Artisans WITH formal education/ training

These artisans have undergone a two years long training and are currently employed with Odisha Crafts Museum as gallery assistants. They also practice the craft of patachitra. 

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Maintaining product quality is a concern. 

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They are reluctant to learning new techniques to upgrade their skills and to exploring new materials. 

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Lack of collaboration with the designers and other artisans.

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Cannot envision long term benefits and don’t understand the needs of designers/ education. 

Artisans WITHOUT formal education/ training

The chitrakars at Raghurajpur, the crafts village at Odisha. They have no formal education and work from their homes. 

Believe design education has helped them.


Craft theory taught.


Mostly work and sell from home.


Need support post the learning period. 


They work in isolation.


Not updated with the market.


Lack variation and innovation.

The younger members are moving towards modern art and their pattachitra art finesse is getting diluted.


Never collaborated.


No support, NGOs and other educators come, understand, document and leave.


Desperate for exposure. 


Market: Sell products from home. Visit exhibitions if invited. 


No support.


Willing to learn, feel left behind. 


Value the craft.


Topics they would like to know more about: Business techniques, communication, travelling, etc.

Bias Analysis

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Ambiguity Bias: Outcome is unknown.


Functional Fixedness: Limits one to traditional methods and ways.


Not invented here bias: Aversion to knowledge developed outside a group. 


Loss Aversion: Averse towards giving up their tradition ways of working.

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Educators/ Designers

Curse of knowledge: extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people. Educators probably fail to see why craftspeople are so rigid with their Beliefs and techniques.


Bias Blind spot: They see themselves as less biased than the craftspeople.

Choice supportive: See their decisions to be better than they actually were. 

Both heavily rely on their own beliefs and information.

Mapping Gaps

Educators being the decision makers for the artisans rather than facilitator. 

Different exposure and development levels for the artisans and the educators.​


Varied anchor points of beliefs and values acts as a hindrance for alignment.


Education is more theoretical and only supports during the duration of course. 

They are taught in isolation and make competitive rather than collaborative.

The artisans don’t need to be taught the craft and the skill as they have enough experience and expertise.

Design Directions

1. The RCSS Framework 

Framework Design for the educational structure.

Relevant: The learning modules should align with the artisan/craftspeople’s needs and aspirations. It should focus less on their existing expertise and more on their weaknesses like awareness about their USP, composition, presentation, costing, etc.

Collaborative: They should be taught in and to work through collaboration. This could be done amongst the same craft cluster or even inter-cluster. This will help them identify their strengths and also others to create an even stronger bond and network.


Sustaining: The should be able to sustain their learning and grow on it as a foundation. The education should not help or stand valid only during the course duration but, help them sustain even after it’s over.

Supportive: The should be supported even after the one or two-year-long learning period. This would help them implement and execute their work and efficiently, doing justice to the purpose of education in the first place.

2. The Artisans Association

Post the education program, multiple craft clusters can be brought together under an association. 


A couple of craftspeople from each cluster could be then further trained to lead these clusters and form a core team. These people would be trained in communication, marketing, costing, legal rights and other business and managerial aspects. 


The core team would also have a couple of educations, design practitioners, craft experts. 




  • Meet every few months, reflect and plan.

  • Decide the price of their products and craft.

  • Encourage more collaborative work.

  • Update their own clusters about the new development, innovations, market analysis, etc.

  • Check and maintain the quality of the products. 

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Challenges &


The proposed direction would not only educate the craftspeople but, also aid them to earn a better living, creating more opportunities and making the sector more economically stable. It would empower and equip them to run their business and accomplish more independence reducing dependency on middlemen. The process would be more transparent, reliable and community-driven. The educators would be facilitators rather than being directive and would help the craft community to be more aware and safe against exploitation.

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