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KE Staff Awards 2022 Student Knowledge Exchange Initiative of the Year: LEAD

three people posing with branded tote bags
  • Written byYana Kasa
  • Published date 11 May 2023
three people posing with branded tote bags
Image Credit: Jaipur Rugs Leadership Exchange and Artisan Development (LEAD), Central Saint Martins, UAL | photography by Jaipur Rugs Foundation, 2022.

Knowledge Exchange is how we work with external partners to create positive change in our society, economy and environment. The KE Staff Awards 2022 celebrated and made visible the diverse range of Knowledge Exchange practices at UAL.

Student Knowledge Exchange Initiative of the Year award was presented to Jaipur Rugs Leadership Exchange and Artisan Development (LEAD).

The LEAD project consisted of a knowledge exchange between 24 rural women carpet weavers in Jaipur and 24 Central Saint Martins students. The project is further supported by the British Council Crafting Futures India scheme.

The shared goal is to provide artisan-weavers with design tools, knowledge resources and opportunities to turn their creative capabilities into economic potential. Members of the Jaipur Rug Foundation (JRF) co-conceived the concept of LEAD with the CSM staff and students. JRF recruited the participating artisan weavers and set up a new Social Innovation Lab. The university team contributed by embedding the project into the curriculum lectures, covering topics ranging from ethics of inter-cultural collaboration to sustainable design practices and regenerative leadership approaches.

The new Social Innovations space in Rajasthan addressed the skill-gaps experienced in rural India, particularly within marginalised communities. 90% of rural artisans live below the poverty line in Rajasthan. LEAD is a response to this and has created new opportunities for the community through design and leadership. The project also brings design professionals to the doorstep of weavers and provide them with a diverse and intersectional experience, connecting rural India to the globalised world.

Through this project, the CSM staff and students have been able to connect with rural artisan-weavers, expanding their co-designing skills and strengthening female empowerment. As a result, artisans and CSM students have created 12 rugs together, prompting the expansion of the curriculum to include future opportunities. Project co-creators plan to expand on this partnership beyond the current projects and set up future weave internships and online design exchanges.

Find out more about the winners of the KE Staff Awards 2022 (PDF 3.8MB).