India is a country of skilled craftsmanship with many artisan communities whose livelihoods fully depend on their skills. However, these traditional practices are dying out for a few reasons. The primary issue is that artisans have been making the same products for the local market and there has been no design intervention to update the products. Other issues artisans face include increased cost of raw materials, competition from low-cost mass production, poor financial conditions of the artisans, inadequate government support and lack of awareness.
The designer collaborated with Emam Ali, a master artisan of the community, to explore possibilities of using existing craftsmen’s skills to create high-end contemporary utilitarian objects for both domestic and international markets. Although some extreme industrial typologies were explored, respecting the existing ways of making facilitated easier communication between the designer and the artisan to push the limits of production to its extreme.
Basic hand tools are used to cut sheets of metal, which are given shape by using wooden moulds. The small pieces are joint with an ancient floor-based coal-welding technique. The final result is unique in typology, aesthetics and sensorial qualities. Pitoloi hopes to encourage the artisans to explore more ideas that would uplift their craft and turn the current situation into a more positive direction by creating products that are relevant to a contemporary lifestyle.