A Practice-Based Design Research: Design for Grassroots Production in Eastern Anatolia through the Revival of Traditional Crafts
Over the years, social and economic inequities have led to a significant migration from the Eastern part to the Western part of Turkey. The major consequence of such migration, from underdeveloped rural areas to far more developed urban regions, is the socio-economic disorder and the difficulty people find in adapting to a different region and lifestyle. More developed western regions of Turkey welcome the human labour, but often make poor use of these people’s skills, many of which are important in terms of Turkish traditions and culture. Instead, most migrants are employed for their manual labour and are given menial tasks that contribute to economic growth. With this state of affairs; the loss of local knowledge, traditions, and customs of the eastern regions of Turkey also includes a tragic loss of traditional handicrafts.
The research project looks for a deeper understanding of the relationship between design for sustainability and traditional local craft production. This research is an attempt to delineate the barriers, restrictions, opportunities, and potential for the future of the craft industry in Eastern Turkey and to bring sustainable design principles to the development of this sector.
Therefore, the research investigates- through practice-based design research- if there is a role for design and, if so, how it can best contribute to the positive development of traditional crafts. This dissertation’s original contribution to knowledge is in demonstrating the potential ways that design can intervene – as applied to three existing traditional crafts in Eastern Anatolia, namely: Oltu-stone prayer beads, Harik shoes, and felt-making. The outcome of this research is product, communication, and system design propositions for opening up new markets, policymaking, and networking for the empowerment of local craftspeople and those interested in being involved in craft industries.
In summary, requirements necessary for their revival are found to be (i) designing new products and/or brand identity (e.g. logo, packaging, etc.); (ii) reaching out to customers using diverse platforms (e.g. online marketing, craft fairs, NGO retail shops, etc.); and (iii) developing innovative approaches to improve production processes and marketing.