This paper presents initial findings from an ongoing research project that explores opportunities for design to contribute to a sustainable future for the craft industry. The research asks ‘Are there potential areas for design to make a positive contribution to the craft industry in upper northern Thailand to help ensure its viable future, and if so, in what areas can design best contribute?’ The research consists of three main components: (i) background research into crafts; (ii) identification of a specific study site; (iii) investigation of craft practices, products and issues of concern in the context of the study site. Background research includes: persistence of crafts in a period of Mass Production; principles of craft today; genres of crafts; relationship of crafts with tradition and design. The upper northern region of Thailand is identified as a major craft production area, with historical, cultural and socio-economic significance. Craft in this region are classified and the challenges for design and design management are identified. It is found that there is a need to integrate: (i) ‘designers’ and ‘craft-makers’ in practice; and (ii) traditions in commercial craft-product design.