Silk Sari, DT & Social Sustainability

Marco Polo and his team created the famous silk route that started from Europe and ran through India and then went right up to China. The famous Chinese silk was discovered and introduced to the world and trade flourished.

Soon silk cultivation also began in India and the Indians creatively used silk materials for designing their dresses. And one of the best examples of such Design Thinking is the creation of a woman's dress known as the sari. It is 5 meters long unstitched piece of cloth that a woman wraps around her body.  It might be wrapped around in slightly different ways. The dress is complete by itself. But how does it qualify as a fine example of Design Thinking. Here are some reasons:

1. One size fits all and is self containing. (there is no such dress in the world that fits any woman)
2. Fits all types of body, sizes and ages and any woman looks elegant in that dress (a paradox & a great user experience)
3. Any woman who care to dress up in a silk sari looks beautiful (fulfills aesthetic requirement and user experience)
4. Infinite variation of designs and motifs can be made on this material — colors, weaving, painting, jewels, gold, silver etc (great scope for endless improvisation and design innovation)
5. A dress that has almost unlimited shelf life — can last up to 40 to 50 years & still look good (sustainable and not oriented at consumerism)
6. Made from silk worms (material is a renewable resource)
7. Needs very little washing and maintenance. And usually washed with the sap of a seed (no detergent used, eco-friendly, little or no use of water)
8. Can be worn indoors or outdoors (multiple uses).

And it is also a good example of Social Sustainability. Why?

1. Many workers need to work together to co-create this wealth
2. Involves the communities of silk growers, weavers, artists, designers, jewelers, stone polishers, shop keepers — all traditional trades.
3. Wealth sharing within the community and beyond
4. Sustainable work for generations of workforce based on traditional and artistic skills.
5. No global warming — no carbon footprints during manufacturing — made in hand looms
6. No ecological damage — does not rely on non-renewable resources or damages forests, plants, water or animals
7. Needs low capital to produce
8. Can sell from around $ 4 to $ 100,000 (more than a Ferrari)
9. Market sustainable and never vanishing
10. Catering from a basic need to vanity

The sari shown in the photograph is unique. It is the costliest of the lot — around $ 100, 000. There are a number of innovations here, which are:

1. Depicts one of the eleven famous paintings of 20th century painter Raja Ravi Verma's series on 'Lady Musicians' — Clever synthesis
2. The painting displays women belonging to diverse cultural backgrounds – – appeal for 'unity in diversity'.
3. The women in the painting on the sari are intricately hand woven and beautified with gold, silver, diamond, platinum, ruby, emerald, yellow sapphire, sapphire, cat's ey, topaz, pearls and corals.
4. The whole is more beautiful than any part of it. The whole (including the beautiful woman who drapes this silk) brings out the deeper meaning & beauty — difficult to tell who is more beautiful — the woman or the sari — both would be my answer. 



3 Responses to “Silk Sari, DT & Social Sustainability”

  1. Johnny Sinclair Says:

    Heh I am honestly the only comment to this amazing writing?!

  2. Forrest Latham Says:

    Hehe I’m really the only comment to this awesome article?!?

  3. Kelly Christie Says:

    If only I had a greenback for every time I came here! Incredible post!

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