The global economic and environmental crisis is creating momentum for designers to challenge the current “linear economy” based on a take-make-waste model, and explore sustainable strategies, services and systems. Within this arena,
textile artisanship is becoming an interesting opportunity for opening up micro-enterprises, addressing the complex challenges posed by future trends (e.g. slow
consumption, alternative economies, redistributed manufacturing, flexible production,
circular economy, advanced artisanship, design entrepreneurship and enabling ecosystems).
In particular, this research is focused on textile artisans’ communities, bottom-up and human-centred aggregations engaged in giving form and meaning to local natural fibres, by
hands or by directly controlling mechanised and digital tools, and managing the process of making culturally and socially significant apparel. With this in mind, a theoretical framework
has been developed, outlining barriers, enablers and a sustainable manifesto for textile artisans’ communities. Service design is here proposed as a key approach within this
scenario, due to its user-centric, relational and systemic strength to co-create tangible and intangible value towards holistic sustainability. Using service design methods, participatory action research is pursued to empower artisans’ communities, co-design collaborative services and scale up innovations within an enabling ecosystem. The overall aim of this research is to explore how service design can encourage textile artisans’ communities towards a sustainable future, providing social engagement, rescuing cultural heritage,
boosting economic development and enhancing environmental stewardship.