Somaiya Kala Vidya

Somaiya Kala Vidya, a division of the K.J. Somaiya Gujarat Trust was established in March 2014. Its strengths are both a deep understanding of culture and arts and a focus on the artisan.

Somaiya Kala Vidya educates artisans while honouring and incorporating existing traditions. Its advisors are Master Artisans and artisan design, graduates. Its faculty includes national and international educators. The institution's curricula, schedule, and language of instruction are designed to accommodate the lifestyles of its artisans. The only prerequisite for admission is knowledge of the traditional craft.

SKV teaches artisans to use design, business, and traditional identity for new markets. The effectiveness of the institution is in the relevance of the education provided. Approaching education through a vital subject, the institute enables direct access to higher education, raises the capacity of artisans and generates value for traditional arts.

Our Story

SKV evolved out of over 20 years of working closely with artisans of Kutch, during which Founder Director Judy Frater defined the issues with which artisans struggle. The premise of Somaiya Kala Vidya is to test a new approach, to offer solutions other than those already offered. In traditional craft, concept and execution were not separated. The artisan was both a designer and producer. The market was intimately known, as the consumer was either of the same community or of a community closely connected to that of the artisan. When local markets were lost to competition with cheaper, mass- produced products, new markets of sophisticated urban buyers who appreciate natural materials and handcraft emerged. However, these distant markets were not well understood by artisans. Thus “design intervention” was introduced, separating design and execution.

Working years with Kutch artisans, in 2003 Founder Director Judy Frater received an Ashoka Fellowship to found Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya, the first design school for artisans. In 2009, she received the Sir Misha Black Medal for Distinguished Service to Design Education. Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya significantly raised the standard of design in craft, and the income and ethics of artisans. After successfully operating KRV for eight years, Frater joined forces with K.J. Somaiya Trust to build the program into an institute. Building on its core design education program Somaiya Kala Vidya then launched the "postgraduate" course Business and Management for Artisans (BMA), outreach programs, and a course in Kutch Textile Traditions. SKV teaches artisans to use design, business, as well as traditional identity effectively for new markets. Approaching education through a vital subject, the institute enables direct access to higher education, raises the capacity of artisans and generates value for traditional arts.

Institutional Goals

To enable artisans to significantly improve their standard of living, socio-cultural and economic status; To strengthen the vitality and viability of crafts in the national and international markets.

To raise the level of education in the craft sector; To provide a successful example of educational reform. The institution intends to achieve these goals by:

1. Building on Tradition Somaiya Kala Vidya works with artisans in establishing and articulating what they already know, and how they traditionally work. In affirming this and building upon it we identify the most effective path to our subsequent goals. SKV has established an approach of respect, sharing, and mutual teaching and learning. As much as possible, education is imparted utilizing traditional methods.

2. Increasing the Value of Craft Somaiya Kala Vidya works to enable artisans to increase their income without necessarily increasing the cost of time and materials. Intrinsic to this goal is understanding what was traditionally created as Art.

Our Logo

SKV's jubilant flying parrot symbolizes the joy of innovation within tradition. It was designed by renowned animator Nina Sabnani, in collaboration with SKV’s Sajnuben Pachan Rabari, Dayalal Kudecha, Judy Frater, and Piyush.

Judy gave the brief to embroiderers: illustrate what we teach at SKV. Sajnuben made a parrot, spunky but still. Nina and her colleague Piyush made the parrot fly! Dayabhai turned the colour wheel until all the colours worked. Nina then added the title, in Optima, a favorite font. But the logo still needed something... Nina placed the mirror from Jivaben's motif above the title. Bingo. The logo was born.

KJ Somaiya Trust

Founded by Padma Bhushan Shri Karamshi Jethabhai Somaiya, the K.J. Somaiya Trust and The Somaiya Trust support Somaiya Vidyavihar, The K.J. Somaiya Medical Trust, The Girivanvasi Education Trust and Pragati Mandal, comprising over 34 educational institutions, extending from elementary level to PhD, rural to urban, vocational to professional, and covering diverse areas including medicine, the arts and sciences, engineering, religion, vocational studies, education, languages, and tribal development.

Currently, over 35,000 students study in all of these institutions. Somaiya Kala Vidya, the latest initiative of The Somaiya Trust, takes forward the dream of late Dr Shantilal K. Somaiya, who wanted to start an education initiative in his native Kutch. Samir Somaiya currently leads The K.J. Somaiya Trust as well as its activities.