The Living Blue project has won one of the prestigious 2014 Wenner-Gren Foundation International Collaborative Research Grants to study the role of designers in the shifting cultural meanings of indigo dyes in contemporary China and India.
In the project, Dori Tunstall, HangHai, V. Sakthivel, and Karen Hughes will conduct two field study trips and two Design Anthropology workshops. During each field study trip, the partners will spend four weeks at indigo dyeing and weaving field sites in Uravakonda, Andhra Pradesh and Damadka, Kutch, Gujarat, India (October-November 2014) and in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, China (September-October 2015).
Framed by the emerging discipline of Design Anthropology (e.g. how design translates values into experience with which people can directly respond), the purpose of the field research is to evaluate the use of Design Anthropology approaches in India and China. Specifically, the project explores the experiences of those who produce and use indigo dyes, as affected by designers, in order to determine the gap between the values expressed and the people’s contemporary lived experiences. The project seeks to use this knowledge to define India and China specific Design Anthropologies.
The two workshops will consists of a four-week intensive with two learning modules: one focused on research methods and one on critical theory. The first workshop will be held at National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India in May 2015. The second will be held at China Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, China from mid-October to mid-November 2015. The purpose of these workshops are to train a total of 48 design and anthropology postgraduate students across China and India (24 per country) in design anthropological theory and methods. The overall goal of this international collaborative research proposal is to be able to characterise the theoretical field of Design Anthropology as decolonising and global.