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Co-Creation. Requalification of Rwanda craftsmanship.

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This research project underlines the strategic role of Design for concrete activities of internationalization, through the identification and realization of innovative and socially sustainable processes in developing countries. It was my Master degree thesis on 2009.

A project of International co-operation between Italy and Rwanda, to promote the economic development of the country. The activity comprises recovery and re-qualification of the local artistic, cultural, craftsman heritage through the artisans professionalism improving. The partnership was Bottega Solidale of Genova, Italy and COPABU, artisans’ cooperative of Butare, Rwanda. We are talking about a micro-intervention based on beneficiaries direct participation with a bottom-up approach, that means starting a strategy from the local people needs and skills. Research and experimentation are the main characteristics of these projects, that can be called seed projects.

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The experimentation phase has led to the creation of prototypes in collaboration with artisans to explain the design approach based on four main methodologies:

1. Formal and functional innovation of the products and artisans’ technique through the project procedure;

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2. Different materials mix in new products through interaction of peculiar skills in a market oriented perspective;

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3. New technique testing and their subsequent transfer to different products in a relational view of shared skills inside and outside the country. This aspect has underlined the lack of appropriate tools.

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4. Processes identification to create a system inside a specific community and then outside it, to strengthen and improve the handmade production.

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These four methodologies, singularly or linked each other, are to be seen as guidelines for the designer and for international co-operation projects. Following this way, the designer will understand the cultural values of the community in a global contest and will play an active role in the socio-economic development of the country.

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