INKLUSIVE MANUFAKTUR (inclusive manufactories)

Launched in April 2016, the HANDWERKSTATT is an inclusive design workshop range realised by EUCREA in collaboration with the HFBK Hamburg in five workshop facilities for people with disabilities in Northern Germany. In a collective effort, design students, designers and artisans cooperated with members of the individual workshop facilities to reinterpret the creative components of artisanal techniques.

The two main objectives of the design initiative were to strengthen the idea of manufacturing in workshop facilities for people with disabilities as well as the revival of traditional craftmanship. In the HANDWERKSTATT, designers and artisans met on an equal footing. Design is the starting point of communication; the design process is the driving force for personal development. Together they developed manufacturing processes to conceive interesting products using simple techniques and materials.

Artisanal techniques were tried out and refined in a total of five workshops, conducted by the London-based communication designer Gero Grundmann and the Hamburg product designer Alexa Lixfeld.

In Hamburg, the workshop was given in the ceramic and screen print workshop facilities run by the disability service provider alsterarbeit.

In Itzehoe, the "Bildschön Designwerkstatt" run by the disability service provider Brücke in Schleswig-Holstein hosted a stamp workshop.

In the Werkforum Kiel, the workshop participants explored the uses of knot and braid techniques and in the Delme-Werkstätten in Sulingen, they experimented in the candle making workshop facility.

All of the workshops followed a similar pattern: on-site, the participants agreed on a design task that exemplified how the workflow, variety or quality of the products in the workshop facilities could be improved.

To motivate the participants, an expert gave a brief introduction describing the respective material and technique. This was followed by a collective two-day work phase that finished off with a presentation of the newly created products and ideas.

The design approach of the workshops is referred to as "co-creation". This term stands for a comprehensive idea, "Design is more than just developing good products. An artisanal and conscious reflection of design encourages creativity and communication. This gives artisanal work a new significance - not only in workshop facilities for people with disabilities," explains project manager Angela Müller-Gianetti from EUCREA. The project is also consistent with the approach of HFBK Professor Julia Lohmann: "If designers become aware of their social responsibilities and do not want to be solely identified as service providers for the industry in the future, the universities will have to strike up longer-term cooperations in social contexts."

Artisanal techniques and the production of handicrafts have been a work area for people with disabilities since the founding of the first workshop facilities. Many of the employees have never completed a specialised training yet they have acquired comprehensive knowledge and skills in dealing with the material they work with. In the course of their employment they have mainly worked on a manual level, usually without any access to creative design techniques. They are often not involved in the design of the products they manufacture. The goal of the HANDWERKSTATT is to change this situation. The saturation of demand for industrial and serially manufactured goods has brought about an increase in public interest for manually created products with an inimitable character. The HANDWERKSTATT wants to demonstrate how work, production, education and creativity can be combined. This project illustrates how workshop facilities for the disabled can become co-creation manufactories.

Further information is available at www.unic-design.de