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Title: The True Nature of Collaboration : what role does practice play in collaboration between designers and African craft producers?
Author: Rhodes, Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5362 4845
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2015
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The aim of this research is to examine the role of practice in collaboration between designers and African craft producers in order to develop a different methodology for future exchanges that can be more sustainable and equitable. It looks to determine how craft and design practices can act as tools for communication and exchange, to examine how to foster meaningful collaboration when the relationship of those involved is inequitable and to develop a co-creation methodology for practice, capitalising on the differing skills, experiences and cultures of those involved. The research explores collaboration through making with two Cape Town based, craft businesses - Imiso Ceramics and Kunye - investigating the interactions that occur between the collaborators. A critical contextual review reveals the majority of such partnerships are instigated from the top down with an emphasis on product development. This study proposes that the focus is shifted to one that is human-centred, where the process of collaboration between the people involved is foregrounded. By strengthening the collaborative relationships and giving all participants an equal voice, the process becomes more productive, with product development an inherent result. Using a practice based, participatory design methodology, the work draws on the African notion of ubuntu, which speaks of people's interconnectedness. Applying the cross-disciplinary practices of all three collaborators, products are developed, provoking a dialogue that challenges the designer's role in the developing world. The research culminates in an exhibition of the journey, conversations, issues and outcomes that occurred throughout. The exhibition provides an opportunity to provoke a conversation with the stakeholders, listening to their experiences and gaining their feedback on the work presented. Practical exercises for participatory design in future cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary contexts are presented.
Supervisor: James Swinson, Caroline Broadhead Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council ; Design Research Society ; Futures for Women ; University of the Arts London
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Co-design, collaboration, participatory design, the agency of the craftsperson, ubuntu, socially responsive design