The Northeastern state of India is abundant with varieties of cane and bamboo. Initiatives and incentives have been offered by the state, towards utilizing these available resources and directing the potentials of locally available skills for both employment opportunities and sustainable development. Keeping in tune with the requirements of the local communities and drawing upon the talents and skills of a large community of bamboo craftsman, this project, undertaken by the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, attempts to address possibilities in design and development of a new range of bamboo furniture that meet the requirements of Primary schools and Primary Health Centres.
The foremost aim of the project is to:
1. Innovate functional objects
2. Develop process rationalization
3. Train craft persons in new techniques
4. Create new business opportunities
The design development of the furniture was done with locally available bamboo and eco-friendly timber/ metal substitutes. Besides reorienting the local craftsmen’s skills towards easy to use and produce functional and utilitarian items of furniture, the project aimed at improving the overall quality of infrastructural facilities in our rural institutions.
Rather than simply sticking to the ornamental ‘emporium handicrafts’ the design approach was diverted towards development of functional utility products. The design approach is neither intrusive nor exclusive. It empathizes on the use of local indigenous skills, tools and technology available without extra infrastructure or imported technology and materials. It inspires craftsmen to think, question and contribute to the wholeness of the product, be it structurally or through a touch of local aesthetic identity.
The design proposal enhances employment opportunities amongst a large population of rural artisans who can handcraft this range of functional furniture, undertake basic repair and maintain the furniture within affordable costs.
This initiative is significant for its timing considering the renewed impetus given by the government in the last few years towards improvement of the infrastructural facilities of primary schools and primary health services in the rural sectors of Indian society.
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