Trade & Cross-cultural influences in the crafts industry


Indian quilted bed cover, late 17th or 18th century that influenced Mexican bedcovers and quilts

On a recent visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, I was reminded of how over the centuries, trade and commerce has played a role in cross-cultural influences on craft production and development. An exhibition titled, Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia, focused on the influence Asia had on the arts in the American continent shortly after the Spanish first landed in America.

It was a great reminder of how art and craft items adapt and evolve to new cultures and environments. One particular object that caught my eye was a Japanese lacquer chest with inlaid mother-of-pearl. It stood out not only because of its craftsmanship but because the object on display was made specifically for export to Western clients and patrons. As I reflected on that, I realised that producing items for two different markets and aesthetics has not only existed for centuries, but is an enterprising way to develop and sustain one’s business. In an increasingly saturated market-place for craft items, having different product lines for different audiences both domestically and abroad can potentially serve as a great business model.

Do you serve a local and global market and if so, how do you develop the different lines?

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