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Dialogue through Design

A Danish-Moroccan empowerment project

Dialogue through design A Danish-Moroccan empowerment project Since 2008 The Royal Danish Academy School of Design has been engaged in a development project in Morocco, establishing a close collaboration with Réseau Femmes Artisanes - a network of handicraft women based in Marrakech. The project is a part of the Danish-Arab Partnership Program under the auspices of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is a partnership between Kvinfo, Planet Finance Maroc, College Lasalle, Réseau Femmes Artisanes and The Royal Danish Academy School of Design. The overall aim is to improve the craft women’s possibilities in the Moroccan society by empowerment through design. Through common workshop activities the project establishes a forum for cultural dialogue and exchange of know-how between Moroccan craft women and Danish design students. The workshops of the project provides the craft women with tools to innovate and argue for new designs and in general be able to manage all steps of production in a quality minded and profitable way - from development of designs and production to commercialization. A collection of handicraft products called Made in Morocco is an outcome of the collaboration between Réseau Femmes Artisanes and the Danish design students. The product development has its roots in the Moroccan design tradition and the collection represents a focal point for the mutual learning process and dialogue. The Moroccan craft women involved in the project have improved their skills in innovation and design, and are now role models who will inspire and train other craft people in the network.

Dialogue through Design A Danish-Moroccan empowerment project Text and content: Sine Stenbek Andersen Foto: Sine Stenbek Andersen Marie Hugsted Anja Phigalt Layout: Maria Albertsen Print: April 2012, Kunstakademiets Designskole

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Dialogue and Workshops Workshop sessions are a focal point for dialogue, cooperation and exchange between the craft women from RĂŠseau Femmes Artisanes and Danish designers. Mutual trust building and getting to

know each other’s background and culture are an important part of the activities. The workshops are a forum for exchange of know-how and methods

related to design. Through common activities it is the aim that the Moroccan craft women learn to improve their designs, product quality, organisation of production and marketing in a sustainable way.

The aim is that the Moroccan women will take the lead and find new ways of achieving success with their handicraft.

Drawing as design tool Sketching and drawing are important parts of the common design work. Drawing is an important tool and method to visualize ideas in the process of product development. As an example the craft women and the

design students have been sketching in the streets, gardens and cultural institutions of Marrakech, to find inspiration in the near surroundings. The sketches are used as a source of inspiration in the further product development. In a multicultural setting drawing

becomes a useful source for communication, as the image can help to transfer the message, beyond the language barrier.

Design and product development Providing new tools for innovation and learning how to design step-by-step are the essential parts of the cooperation between Danish design students and women from RĂŠseau Femmes Artisanes.

Joint development of new products is an essential part of the mutual learning process. The product development is anchored in the Moroccan handicraft tradition, but the participants are challenged to use their skills in new ways,

try new materials, techniques and new product types. Design becomes a tool for empowerment, as it provides the craft women with tools to innovate and argue for

new design and in general be able to manage all steps of production in a quality minded and profitable way.

made in morocco

Made in Morocco Made in Morocco is a collection of quality handicraft products designed and produced by Moroccan women from RĂŠseau Femmes Artisanes in collaboration with students from The Royal Danish Academy School of Design. The collection has its roots in

traditional Moroccan crafts and textile techniques and each product is a result of a unique combination of know-how and design thinking. The collection represents a long-term Danish-Moroccan exchange, and is an

outcome of many common workshop activities. The products are now sold in shops in Denmark and Morocco.

Training of trainers: Leadership By participating in workshops with PlaNet Finance and students from The Royal Danish Academy School of Design, the craft women are trained as role models, who can inspire and train other women in their network.

Through hands-on activities the women experience and learn how to manage their every day work through leadership: How to organize and plan work, how to communicate well, how to control quality and to give and take critics in a constructive way.

Through role-plays the women also learn about customer relations and how to present their products in a good and profitable way.

Training of trainers Through regular trainings, women from RĂŠseau Femmes Artisanes now teach each other skills in crafts, sewing and production of Made in Morocco items. The women all have various skills and knowledge on Moroccan handicrafts

and they benefit from sharing with each other and build the capacity for production.

Networking and sharing experience Networking and exchanging with colleagues and people from other countries are essential to the project. The design students as well as the women from RĂŠseau Femmes Artisanes participate in meetings, conferences and seminars and are happy to share

their experiences by talks and presentations. During the project the craft women from Morocco has visited Denmark and France and also Syria on a common study trip. In Syria the participants

visited the women crafts project ANAT which is based in Damascus. It was rewarding to exchange experience with the Syrian women.

Networking and commercialization Reseau Femmes Artisanes has participated in several exhibitions to promote and sell their products. It is an important part of the project that the women get experience with the commercial world and learn how to

present their products and handle customer relations. The commercial experience has been growing: From a small exhibition in Marrakech, to Christmas markets

in Denmark and France - and more recently The Danish Design School brought the products to Formland Design Fair in Denmark. Further more has RĂŠseau Femmes Artisanes participated in Riad Art Expo

- a fair for Moroccan handicraft in Marrakech.

Empowerment The goal of the project is to empower the handicraft women to be able to handle all steps in the process of selling their products: From getting new ideas, develop a design, make prototypes, buy materials on the

market, chose colours, organise production – and to be able to do business by finding clients, communicate the value of their products, negotiate prices and distribute.

Group photoes Throughout the project several groups of Danish and Moroccan design students has been involved in the collaboration with the craft women from RĂŠseau Femmes Artisanes.

Dialogue through Design  

Dialogue through Design - A Danish-Moroccan empowerment project