Beyond Quilting, international social design project

posted on August 11th, 2020


At a meeting with Rucha Kulkarni in The Netherlands she invited Edith Rijnja and Harald Schole to think about how to collaborate with crafts women of Quilt Culture, to make next and innovative steps in design approach, developing prototypes, new products. Quilt Culture is a small-scale initiative completely owned and run by craftswoman themselves. They work with threefold objectives; one reviving the traditional Indian art of hand Godhadi quilt making, two re-establishing century-old traditional values of recycling fabrics and three creating financial opportunities for women from marginalized caste and lesser privileged classes. This social entrepreneurial project started in Pune in 2015 by artist/designer Rucha Kulkarni.

There was more than a connection, not only the Dutch organisers travelled to India regularly, taking in and organizing workshops, exhibitions and art meetings in India. In our work, art, design, craft and innovation regularly meet being organisers / writers/advisors in this field. Kulkarni was highly recommended by Indian artist and good friend Sharmila Samant, currently associate prof. Shiv Nadar University, Noida, India. Dutch product- en textile designers Simone Post, Mae Engelgeer and graphic designer Richard Niessen were invited to take part in this research programme.

With the Dutch Designers

Apart from regular contacts with the Dutch Designers in studio visits and by email and phone, we organized two meetings with them before going to India. The first one was also for getting to know each other and for answering artistic and practical questions and discussing first ideas.

The second meeting in October was to show each other the first ideas on design concepts and discuss them on feasibility and possibilities for preparations in India before going there.

With the Indian Designers

There were several skype meetings with the Indian Designers. Karishma Shahani Kahn, textile and fashion designers, was enthusiastic right from the start and directly agreed upon collaboration. Uma Prajapati, with a background in fashion and design had to cancel her participation for personal reasons.

For her instead we invited Studio Alternatives, a studio of young designers, based in the outskirts of Pune and working with waste materials.


Beyond Quilting supported the Dutch designers with information on visa, vaccinations and organized flight tickets and internal transport, also between Mumbai and Pune.

Due to the long period of monsoon in Pune, which would effect the travel time too much, we had to change the hotel one week before arrival from a beautiful area in the north to a good hotel in the South. With this change we could bring back travel time to 30-40 minutes one way. Extra health prevention was organized with the municipality at our workshop place in Kondhwa Budruk as at that time Pune was suffering a serious dengue outburst. And of course, the organisers took with them enough DEET to prevent the whole crew.

First media contacts were established by our Indian partner, Rucha Kulkarni, which would finally result in a more than good media coverage.


From our earlier experience with India and funding, we already knew that Indian funding is often a matter of a long breath and last minute. But together with our Indian partner, we were in good contact with our intended funder, the Pune Biennale, its organization and curator Pooja Sood. To our great surprise, the Pune Biennale was cancelled in July 2019. At first instance we would still be part of a recycling project of the Pune Biennale Office. But problems turned out to be so serious there, that this was also cancelled.

In the meantime, our Indian partner researched other funding possibilities – either in money or via in kind participation. She held orientation discussions with among others IFA, ASEF, SWaCH, INTACH, Maharashtra Cultural Centre (Sudharsan), TIFA and companies, such as hotels, restaurants both for funding or in kind participation and art institutes for volunteers as assistants to the designers and for translation.


We started the Project Beyond Quilting with the main aim to enable Dutch designers, known for their innovative approach, to work together with the craft women of Quilt Culture.

Research on Recycling and Up-cycling

Together we started to work on concepts for innovative workshops.

The availability of mass manufactured, easily accessible and comparatively cheaper consumer goods is impacting on the small sustainable craft industries and culture, like Quilt Culture. Godhadi is a traditional Maharashtrian craft. Hand-stitched quilts/rugs are made from up-cycled used fabrics (new and old left-overs). Several patches and layers of up-cycled fabrics are stitched together, often mostly with simple running stitches. Overall, the fashion industry as a whole is contributing more to climate change than the aeronautical and shipping industries combined. If trends continue, the industry could account for a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050.
To address such an issue, we found refuge in the traditional crafts like Godhadi; which uses old discarded fabrics to create beautifully crafted utility products.

Beyond Quilting has generated opportunities by combining of traditional craft with contemporary design.

The design contributions by participating Dutch and Indian Designers has supported the home-based female workers of Quilt Culture and supported them in earning a living. While the designers got to know traditional craftsmanship of up-cycling fabrics. Beyond Quilting, a non-profit initiative, has put a strong focus on the power of innovative designs through cross-cultural dialogue between Indian traditional quilt makers and contemporary Dutch and Indian designers. The research project has succeeded to open the organic culmination of the contemporary cultural sensitivity towards fair trade and values of sustainability. To have both the quilt women, and regularly the Indian designers on board, made a great exchange of knowledge possible

Objectives and results of objectives

From 8 – 23 November 2019, our international Research workshop Beyond Quilting took place in Pune, Maharashtra, India - a project with a strong believe in sustainability and up-cycling.

Our aims were, in short:

a. to offer Dutch designers a platform to research their ideas related to the traditional Indian Godhadi craft. In this workshop, the work of innovative Dutch designers could be combined with the traditional local godhari quilting craft. Godhari quilting is about recycling and upcycling as the quilt women only use leftovers of old saris and other textiles.

b. To stimulate cross cultural dialogue related to the research of three Dutch and Indian deslgners:

c. To exchange knowledge and experience during workshop and in expert meetings;

d. To promote the designers and their work/results in an exhibition and in press;

e. To show results in the Netherlands (exhibition/presentations).

In this program on Innovation & craftsmanship, designers had the opportunity to set up short research projects (quick scans) and to work individually or collectively. Some products developed as an outcome of this research can contributed to the products made by Quilt Culture and future business generated through this will support the livelihood of the craftswomen.


Thanks to our Indian specialist in communication, we had a high attention in the press for which the designers and organisers were regularly interviewed. There have been articles about the designers and their work in the local and national press, a magazine as well as in the trade press. (see links).



Opening ceremony Community Hall                 90

Lectures at TIFA, Pune                                         34
Lectures at Sudarshan                                         85

Lecture at Nautilus, Rucha Kulkarni                  21

Lecture 2 at Nautilus, Simone Post                    14

Lecture Richard Niessen at Lemon Design       15

Visitors during Beyond Q workshop Pune        90

Exhibition Sudarshan Hall                                 300

Exhibition Monalisa Kalagram                          450

Exhibtion Nautilus                                               370

Total number of visitors                                   1.469


Reach printed matter the Nederlands         4.000

Reach printed matter Pune                          30.000


Instagram via:

Simone Post                                                                    4.896 followers

Mae Engelgeer                                                            18.800 followers

Rucha Kulkarni                                                                   753 followers

Studio Alternatives                                                          579 followers

Ka-sha                                                                              75.800 followers

Totaal                                                                           100.828 followers


Studio Alternatives                                                  2.083

Ka-sha                                                                       16.376      

Rucha Kulkarni                                                           2.417

Archana Jagtap (Quilt Culture)                                  720
Quilt Culture                                                             2.743

Simone Post                                                                  869

Mae Engelgeer                                                         1.132

Harald Schole                                                           1.655

Edith Rijnja                                                                1.138

The Monalisa Kalagram                                           3.011


+ Textile sites that mentioned

Beyond Quilting in their agenda    

In the Netherlands                                                   51.167

Total Facebook reach                                               83.311

 Estimated total social media reach:             184.139     


Total quantitative reach press and social media

Estimated reach social media                                                                                      184.139

Estimated reach printed media, Newspapers & Magazines                               1.221.650

Estimated online reach                                                                                               1.405.789       

1. Pune Mirror

Daily circulation 133.000 -  Average news cost 800 per cm square - Around 160.000 INR

2. Indian Express

Daily circulation of 106.000 - Average news cost 1296 per cm square - Around 135.000 INR 

3. Loksatta 

Daily circulation of 400.000 -  Average news cost 3400 per cm square - Around 200.000  INR

4. Times of India
Daily circulation of 132.000 -  Average news cost 1063 per cm square - Around 200.000 INR 

5. The Hindu business line

Daily circulation of 29750 -  Average news cost 500 per cm square - Around 80.000 INR 

6. Sakal Tanishka Magazine

December 2019

Montly – circulation over 50.000 – 4 pages article – no financial marks available

7. Het Parool

30 January 2020 – 1/5 page

Daily – circulation 189.000 – Around € 1.575,-

8. Radio NH                                                                                 9. TxP Textiel Plus Magazine

Interview 2/2/2020 +/- 6 minutes –                                   Quarterly – subscribtion 3.000

Listeners: 170.000                                                                     Three pages


10. TxP Nieuwsbrief – Agenda                                             11. TxP Facebook

Weekly – circulation 4.900                                                     Followers: 31.0000

12. Crafts Council Nederland                                                13. Vezel

Agenda – February 2020                                                        Agenda - February

Followers: 5.966                                                                        Followers: 3.799

14. Oost-Online                                                                          15. Quiltersgilde

Agenda 3 February                                                                   Agenda February

16. Oost-Online                                                                          17. Stokroos                                            

Agenda 10 February 2020                                                      Followers: 1.201

!8. Stimuleringsfonds

Followers: 9.201

Looking at publicity, the exhibition and its activities were also mentioned in the TxP Textiel Plus Newsletter, the TxP Magazine, Crafts Council Nederland, Vezel, Quiltersgilde, Oost-Online, Zeeburgereilandbewonersgroep and via Facebook and instagram.