Craft Dynamics: Empowering Felt Making through Design

Bilge Merve Aktaş, Maarit Mäkelä


In this paper, we argue that design can empower a craftsperson and accordingly provides the ability to maintain her work and practice. In addition, it can provide new opportunities to the local community she is part of. The study presents case studies from the field of felting in Turkey, a rooted craft that has been transforming in the last two decades from design and product range views. With this study, we aim to understand the field of felting in Turkey and the role of design in the transitioning of felting. First, we present the general situation based on the interviews that we conducted with eight craftspeople. After that, we group their practices into three main approaches, namely artistic, design, or conventional craft, according to their way of idea generation, by following Ihatsu’s (1998: 170) diagram for craft perspectives. Finally, we present in detail one craftsperson from each of the three approaches. Based on these findings, we argue that craftspeople who use design are more empowered: they can create their own craft identities, sustain their practice, and build productive relationships with the local community.

Keywords: craft, felting, design, empowerment.

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