In July 2015, as part of the Sichuan Market Development Activity (SMD), funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Creative Associates, International, Aid to Artisans conducted a series of design and training events in Sichuan. Conducted by ATA Designer Sophie Sauzeat accompanied by SMD staff and Conscious Business Consulting, the goal of these workshops was to broaden markets through innovation of craft collections and preservation of Tibetan culture. These series of workshops were divided into two parts: a Design seminar held in Chengdu and a design coaching tour in Chengdu, Kangding, and Pembushi.
The Design Seminar took place on July 3. Participants represented many different skills: from felt work to horn, from embroidery, to leather work. Artisans learned about innovative concepts, thereby upgrading their product collection and preserving their culture. Sophie brought various innovative sample concepts with her from France to inspire artisans in the development new designs, based on their culture and traditions.
The Seminar was followed by a series of one-on-one design coaching consultations with 25 ethnic Tibetan enterprises in Chengdu, Kangding, and Pembushi, representing about 60 individual artisans. The tour lasted 16 days in which tailored guidance and advice on design concepts were provided to each business. Carpenters, painters, metal workers, fashion designers, embroiders, textile and basket weavers, and tailors took part of this coaching. About 250 design ideas were given.
A local Market Readiness Program and product development & design workshop are scheduled to take place in late October, 2015.