Artesanías vs Modern Design: Unveiling Design Hegemonies over Traditional Crafts in Chile

De Casiopea

TítuloArtesanías vs Modern Design: Unveiling Design Hegemonies over Traditional Crafts in Chile
AutorDaniela Salgado
Tipo de PublicaciónPonencia
RevistaMemory Full? Reimagining the Relations Between Design and History
EditorialDesign History Society
Carreras RelacionadasDiseño

The recent social protests that have taken place throughout Chile – a South American model of neoliberal economic success and development– have been perceived as signalling the collapse of the current capitalist system, by denouncing the extractivist model, the fast-growing consumption of imported goods, and consequently, the devastation of local production. In this context, this paper critically follows design as a component for economic and cultural production interwoven with craftsmanship in Chile, putting in tension the promotion of modern design in ‘artesanías’ as a tool for development, that has been encouraged in the country and the region via discourses of growth and progress. From these perspectives, and following UNESCO’s vision of human development, design has been highly valued by diverse institutions as a tool to innovate among the cultural industries, and reinforced by a mercantilist perspective. However, the interactions between designers and artisans remain controversial, as, in recent encounters, the latter has firmly rejected their need for professional design. Through the analysis of historical archives, this contribution traces frictions in discourses and interventions between crafts and design deployed in Chile after 1970. It presents how, through the development discourse, diverse institutions and actors have established hegemonic patterns of ‘selective innovation’ to privilege modern design and creativity over traditional making. Simultaneously, based on an ethnographic approach in the artisanal community of Pomaire– we trace transformations within artisanal production to untangle artisans’ design processes and economies that remain resilient and iterative to adapt and thrive facing design hierarchies and global scenarios of production. Finally, this contribution sheds light on artesanías to open up a path towards a ‘relationality’ in design based on the valorisation of territory, local techniques and a sense of community, which can contribute and nourish guidelines for a non-hegemonic and autonomous design.