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Three Models

Three models are constructed as a means of exemplifying and understanding the social relationship of craft and design.4 These models concern situations where individuals from wealthier countries seek to have their work hand-produced by artisans using craft skills found in non-western countries. The models are characterized as developmental, romantic, and dialogical’. The developmental model figures production as a secondary and increasingly-insignificant part of the process. According to this model, technological progress liberates the producer from drudgery, allowing for increased creative freedom. The romantic model positions design as a form of commodification that hides the reality of production. This is expounded, in recent times by Richard Sennett as a personal moral issue, echoing the Arts & Crafts movement of Victorian England. Finally, the dialogical model contextualizes design and craft as separate but interlocking domains of ideation and realization.

These identified models are compared here through three examples. The first is the practice of Danish ceramicist Anne Black who has her work manufactured by Vietnamese workshops. The second is Kandahar Treasures, an NGO which attempts to rescue Afghan craft through product development for export. And the third is Punkasila, a project involving Australian artist Danius Kesminas and Indonesian collaborators. Rather than singling out one model as superior to the others, consideration is given to the contexts of each.

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