Lantana;Unexplored design possibilities?

Handicrafts have always been an integral part of Indian culture. The craft or the handicraft sector is the largest decentralized and unorganized sector of the Indian economy. Craftspeople form the second largest employment sector in India next only to agriculture. Mostly it uses existing skills and locally available materials.

Given the sheer number of craftsmen in India, the traditional knowledge and skills of the community, the easily available local materials it is amazing how design can be a potent development tool. Infusing contemporary design can truly transform the ordinary into classy products. The handicap the rural artisans face is lack of exposure/awareness to customers and trends. Contemporary design coupled with solid marketing strategies has the potential to give a huge facelift to rural crafts and help local livelihoods.

Any material presents infinite design possibilities. And design schools and designers could play a crucial in exploring these possibilities. Take for instance a weed like lantana. An experiment that started with baskets, with some design inputs has been transformed into beautiful natural looking furniture. But that is just the tip of the iceberg and it remains to be seen how the design limits can be stretched with this material.

A group of irula tribals in nilgiris have been working on lantana for the last three years and have in their own small ways experimented with furniture designs with this material. But their design sensibilities are limited by their little exposure to the market trends and customers. And with limited design interventions the furniture has largely been sold as low cost alternate to cane furniture.

It will be really interesting to see the magic that can unfold when professional designers join hands with them to explore the infinite possibilities of lantana.

Adivasi lantana furniture unit- Moyar

Adivasi lantana furniture unit

Lantana structure; A possibility??

Lantana structures;A possibility

Lantana structures;A possibility??