Cultural Textiles

Cultural Textiles course

Gujarat, India

School of Design Studies in association with National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad

Led by RED OBJECTS’ Liz Williamson, the Cultural Textiles course is an opportunity for COFA design students to connect with Indian textile design, its history, processes and social and cultural context. The Cultural Textiles course focuses the how, where, what and the nature of production by artisan, family, village and community groups. Of particular interest is the relationship between traditional and contemporary design, how textile traditions are maintained and how organisations assist artisans develop sustainable practices.

The program allows students to experience India and conduct hands-on textile research by participating in a series of workshops, meeting designers and artisans, and learning first-hand about the issues impacting on this field of contemporary design in India.

The Cultural Textiles courses explores the nature of production by the various groups of artisan, family, village and community, and immerse students in the culture of knowledge-sharing in the textile tradition. Drawing on this experience, the course will also consider the impact of textile traditions on contemporary design. With this knowledge, students are equipped with knowledge of how to design for, collaborate with, commission or engage with these artisan groups in the future.

Cultural Textiles course has been scheduled in January 2012, 2013 and 2014. Having completed this course, students have continued to engage with artisan groups designing work to be produced in India or have developed ways to undertake collaborative projects.

Feedback from 2012 participants:
“The whole experience was amazing. Being able to meet local Indian artisans and see how they work and create fantastic textiles. One main inspiration was seeing how the Indian people create patterns and designs from their traditions, but also from their heart. It was refreshing and inspiring.”

“Exposure to some amazing textiles and learning about the techniques used to make them, the food, the hospitality, friendliness and cordiality of the artisans and people we came into contact with.”

“The course gave an insight into the history and tradition of Indian textiles that could never have been gained from a classroom in Australia or text books.”

Link to article by Fran Strachan on the 2012 project


Cultural Textiles 2014 Bandhani workshop, Bhuj, Gujarat.

Cultural Textiles 2014 Bandhani workshop, Bhuj, Gujarat.
Mushroo fabric, Gujarat, India.
CT2012 student Emily Gunthorpe, local children and NID academic, Errol Pires observe the carving of wood blocks.
Cultural Textiles 2014 Block Printing at Dr Ismail workshop, Bhuj, Gujarat.