Design Research, Workshop Design, Workshop Facilitation, Participatory Research
The Craft sector is the second largest employer in the developing world, and yet the majority of artisans are living in poverty. This was one of the first lines of the description of the collaborative course Artisan Futures, which leading question was ‘‘How might we better support indigenous artisans and their families past the current generation of makers?’’ ‘‘We Weave, We Design’’ is a project that started in this course and has continued until the present. This project has been developed with Tina Qi, Megan Willy, Abdul Qadir and in partnership with Mercado Global, a non-profit that empowers rural Latin American and DEED Lab, a research lab at Parsons School of Design.
Exploration- Ecosystem of the Craft Sector 
During the course, we started exploring the ecosystem of the craft sector. We collected data from different sources, reviewed bibliography and, considered different perspectives and practices. After analyzing and synthesizing the information, we the following: despite there were a lot of conversations about different dilemmas in the craft sector, and that these the conversations were about the artisans, their voices were not included.

Artisans participating in the workshop held in Guatemala in March 2018

Participatory Research- Listening the Voices of the Artisans 
In response to that finding, we conducted two workshops with the goal of creating a space were artisans could express their understanding of their life, their priorities, their perspectives, and the vision of the future of their communities. The workshops were the following:
Magic Bag Workshop: In this workshop, we aimed to create a moment where artisans could discuss and define how they perceive themselves and their situation. Before traveling to Guatemala, the team crafted a series of questions and printed them in cards to use them as prompts. The participants randomly selected the cards from a bag and used them as conversations starters. 
Time Capsule Workshop: In this workshop, we aimed to understand what was important for artisans and what they wanted for their future. To achieve that, we asked the participants what they would put in a ''time capsule'', considering that future generations could see it to understand better their culture.  Numerous participants wanted to include their weaving skill because it is very important for their culture.

Cultural probes filled by artisans

Insights from the workshops
-They are proud of the knowledge of weaving but they don’t want their kids to be artisans.
-They can’t design the textile but they get a sense of achievement when they design on their own.
-Income generation is their first priority for weaving.
-They hope their work be recognized and valued.
-They heavily rely on middlemen.
-Some artisans want to have their own business.
-Artisans with high literacy level or Spanish speaking artisans have better opportunities to get on the Board of Directors.
Key Findings 
After the exploration and research process, the main findings were the following: 
Artisans creativity is constrained by the colors assigned by their communities and the designs of the pieces they  weave for Mercado Global (external designers provide the designs).
The weaved pieces sold by organizations in the globalized craft sector don't show the richness of the pieces: textiles of Guatemalan communities contain a lot of information: through textiles, artisans tell stories, express identity, emotions, and feelings. They are an essential part of their culture. When these textiles are not designed by artisans, they are not showing one of the most significant parts of the pieces.
The opportunity of having a stable income is threatening the weaving tradition of these communities: artisans want to provide more opportunities of education to their children to allow them to choose their profession, by having more income the weaving profession is slowly loosing  
The opportunity of having a stable income is threatening the weaving tradition of these communities: artisans want to provide more opportunities of education to their children to allow them to choose their profession, by having more income the weaving profession is slowly loosing
Artisans don’t know a lot about the history of the textiles: Surprisingly among the artisans there is a perception that their traditional textiles and clothing were brought by the Spaniards.
Design Proposal 
Artisans drawing their meaningful object in section 2 of the workshop
Artisans drawing their meaningful object in section 2 of the workshop
Conversation with artisans after the lecture of section 1
Conversation with artisans after the lecture of section 1
We Weave, We Design (Nosotras Tejemos, Nosotras Disenamos) is a project that consists of a series of workshops, a new line of MG products and a new communication channel between artisans and U.S. consumers. Students from Parsons, Deed Lab, and Mercado Global staff and artisans participate in this fellowship. Its objective is to create a space for indigenous artisans in Guatemala for cultural expression, cultural agency, and recognition of their work. The proposal received a fund to travel to Guatemala and run the workshops.
We Weave, We Design Workshop: 
This workshop is composed of four sections: 
- Section 1: consisted in a lecture delivered by a Guatemalan Anthropologist who works at the Museo Ixchel. The content of the lecture was mainly about the history and evolution of Guatemalan textiles. After the lecture, we had a group conversation where artisans could express their thoughts, concerns and what they wanted about their textiles and culture. 
-Section 2: during this section all participants (including facilitators) shared one object that was meaningful and that represented their culture. Later on we had a conversation about abstraction and representation. 
-Section 3: the artisans designed their pieces inspired in the activities we had in the section 1 and 2. 
-Section 4: Artisans weaved their designs and presented it to the group, sharing the meaning of their designs. After artisans presented their pieces we had a celebration party.
Participants of the workshop presenting their concepts
Participants of the workshop presenting their concepts
Artisan weaving her designed piece
Artisan weaving her designed piece
Piece of the Season 
The pieces that came out of the workshops will be produced and sold as part of the collection of ‘‘Piece of the Season’’. These pieces will be limited edition and its main purpose of show the complete picture of what a weaved piece represents and allow artisans to showcase and sell their designs at a international setting. The pieces will contain information about the artisan who designed the piece, its meaning and the community where they live. 
New Channel of Communication 
Mostly all the times, artisans work is not recognized due to the disconnection between them and the final consumer. However, they are very motivated that the pieces that they weave are sold worldwide. The pieces of the collections of ‘‘Piece of the Season’’ include a tag/postcard were consumers can write a message about the pieces to the artisans. This message will be delivered by Mercado Global.
Bracelets designed by San Antonio artisans
Bracelets designed by San Antonio artisans
Belt designed by Santiago Altitlán artisans
Belt designed by Santiago Altitlán artisans
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