As a research lab situated in an academic setting, we find ourselves in a strategic position that allows us to critique and challenge the status quo of the artisan sector today. In 2014 we launched the “Fair Craft” study which investigates pricing and fairness in the artisan sector. The study includes results from a survey of 120 companies who employ artisans. In this paper, we argue that fair trade, while admirable in its attempt to help producers in the developing world, is an inappropriate model for artisan handicrafts, as long as artisan livelihoods remain the priority. Not only is it an economically unsustainable model, depending largely on the will of the socially-conscious consumer, but much of the fair trade framework as it stands is focused on agricultural products as opposed to handicrafts. Even the expensive process of obtaining a certification is prohibitive for fledgling artisan enterprises. With these critiques in mind, we propose in this paper a new artisan-specific framework, which we term ‘fair craft.’ The survey and public program were created in collaboration with Kate Black and EcoSessions.
Please be aware that the paper is currently a draft version and has not been officially published yet.
You can also watch our public program, which took place on campus at Parsons School of Design, here: