Location: Viljandi, Estonia
University of Arts London - Elisa Palomino
In collaboration with traditional tanning specialist Lotta Rahme, Elisa presented on Studying Traditional Crafts: Goals and Methods in Higher Education.
The delivery was a material-based exploration looking at the role of fish skin in sustainable design practice, developing models of socially responsive design innovation and knowledge transfer. The research looked at the geographical use of fish skin material in circumpolar cultures. The aim is to explore how fish skin artisanship through participatory design practices can explore fashion for social cohesion through the partnership of tradition with contemporary design from higher education students. There is also a desire for reviving technologies of the past as well as for securing the transfer of indigenous knowledge systems related to fish skin processing.
The presentation described the workshops developing methods of tanning fish skin and producing fish skin material samples in areas where traditionally fish skin was developed, where experienced fish skin craftspeople have passed down the endangered Arctic fish skin craft to the next generation of students from universities in the circumpolar area (Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Hokkaido, Japan, northeast China and Alaska) as part of the sustainable fashion higher education program. The methods of sustainable material engagement and the full immersive experience through a teaching-in-the field approach are recommended as transferable skills for educational models. The workshops demonstrate how relevant the Indigenous fish skin knowledge - in partnership with sustainable design strategies - can connect people to their culture, communities and the environment.