Designers: Jon Fraser, Ruby Steel, Hal Watts, Khushbu Dublish, D Toppo
Location: London, UK & Ahmedabad, India
Category: Design for Social Impact
Award: Student Notable
Made In The Dark
Made in the Dark scented jewellery is made by blind craftswomen using smell to enhance their skills. Using a new colour-scent language, blind artisans can design the aesthetics and fragrances of the products they create. This craft will provide income and improved social standing for blind people across India.
The combination of local and international designers gave our team a unique approach to the project. We combined foreign viewpoints with in-depth local knowledge to inform our design process. Initially our goal was to improve the quality of life of blind people by providing them with a sustainable income. However, we soon realised that improving their position within society was equally important, as social stigma was a major problem. A survey conducted by the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology found that 70% of people agreed with the statement "losing your sight means losing yourself". Addressing this problem became a major focus of our project as improvements in this area would impact the blind community as a whole. We also discovered that 80% percent of blindness in India is avoidable, as it is caused by factors such as sunlight and poor nutrition. Our team decided that generating awareness of this problem was also important, and this became a key factor in creating the Made in the Dark brand.
Core77: How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
We all met up at our studio in the Royal College of Art to watch the live announcement. It was oddly quiet because of the summer break so the tension was high beforehand, but we made plenty of noise when our project was commended by the judges!
Core77: What's the latest news or development with your project?
Our team is currently in talks with a major Indian retailer, who strongly supports the new craft and the goals of the Made in the Dark brand. We hope to see the craft of scent-beading established by early 2010, and the jewellery available in the Indian market shortly thereafter.
Made in the Dark will also be the centrepiece of an RCA and NID published book which will tell the story of our project as well as numerous other collaborations between the two institutions.
What is 1 quick anecdote about your project?
"My favourite smell is apple", this was the quote that inspired our project. Veenu said this to us when we met her at a local charity in Gujarat. She had been blind since birth, was elderly, unmarried, and had struggled to find work all her life. But surprisingly, she could thread a necklace faster than any of the members of our design team! However, it was Veenu's declaration about her love of the smell of apples that was the pivotal moment for us. Smell is rarely used in the design of objects, but for blind people it is one of their primary senses. By incorporating smell into the jewellery beads that Veenu was so familiar with, we were able to provider her with an exciting, innovative and profitable craft; as well as a new found creativity in designing through scent.
Read on for full details on the project and jury comments.