In summer 2022, our BA Textile Design programme and Jaipur Rugs Foundation brought 25 of our weave students together with women carpet weavers from the Aspura village in Jaipur. In small groups they worked together, exchanging ideas and designing together online.
To represent their shared journey, the students and artisans created an original collection of rugs together that will go on display in London in April 2023.
“It’s our story and our journeys alongside the artisans’ stories. They’re going to interpret it together with their own ideas - so it’s how can we put that together to create an overall story and create a beautiful rug out of it." BA Textile Design student Lucia Goodman
Led by Jewellery, Textiles and Materials Programme Director Anne Marr and taught by Philippa Brock, Rebecca Hoyes, Steph Rolph, Annette Poulton and Chryssi Tzanetou, this Leadership Exchange and Artisan Development (LEAD) curriculum-based project was supported by the British Council’s Crafting Futures: India-UK Collaboration Scheme 2022.
The starting point for students’ research was ‘The Journey’. They identified individual journeys relevant to their lives, then worked to communicate this research through materials, patterns and colours.
As the project went on, they found links between their own journeys and those of the Aspura artisans, through the exchange of inspiration packs with motifs for each other to work from. From materials and samples and small gifts to favourite foods, they shared a sense of place and a flavour of each other’s countries. They also sent each other photos.
“It motivated us so much to receive their packages. It was refreshing and really inspiring. We got small jewellery, key chains, snacks and some yarns, and Indian fabrics and the dyes that they use. And samples of rugs that show us the possibilities and different techniques they use. The whole culture of the country came to us in a box and it was very inspiring and heart-warming.” BA Textile Design students Fang Areeratchakul and Johanna Blasco
“They’ve also been sending us lots of images of the landscapes in India and we’ve been working with that, making drawings from those and interpreting them. It’s all about connecting us and them. Today we’re making mood boards, putting together the artisans’ images with our images and adding some yarns and textures and colour palettes.” BA Textile Design students Megan Pettey and Jenny Chaieun Jang
The broad focus was to make a positive impact on economic opportunities for Jaipur’s rural carpet weavers, who suffered financial losses in the pandemic.
This project brought a programme of practical development for the artisans, focused on making a living from weaving. They trained in design development and in digital skills and technologies that can support their work in new ways and turn their creative capabilities into earning potential. For students, the project was a chance to develop the range of skills and techniques they will use as part of their practice.
“This project gives us the opportunity of discovering what is really design and designing in the real world – how it works, working with other people, collaboration.” BA Textile Design students Fang Areeratchakul and Johanna Blasco
The project will culminate with an exhibition at Central Saint Martins Window Galleries in April 2023 showcasing the collection of rugs produced. The final designs encapsulate the journey of this project, bringing together a mix of traditional and contemporary production processes and digital design methods.
“There’s many cultural barriers and language barriers which could be difficult sometimes, but everyone’s been very active and it’s been going great. We’ve never had a project with someone outside the uni let alone in a different country or different cultural background. They are very spontaneous with how they weave. I think it’s very interesting... like the patterns they use, the materials, the colours, the dyes.” BA Textile Design student, Kennard Bahar