Bridging Cultures Through Design: The Importance of Place

by - Sunday, April 19, 2009

2009 Maiwa Textile Symposium

Thursday October 29, 2009 at 7pm
Vancouver Museum (MacMillan Space Centre Auditorium)

Mimi Robinson is the founder of Bridging Cultures Through Design, a design-led process of working with artisan groups. It represents over 15 years of working in the field for various organizations and institutions.

In 2006 it led to a direct collaboration between design students and artisans when the Rhode Island School of Design partnered with the Guatamalan communities of San Antonio Palopo and Santiago Atitlan. The project had as its goals to foster a genuine respect for and connection to the community artisans, and to raise individual awareness of the values and design sensibilities inherent in the development of their products.

In this lecture Mimi Robinson will speak about the importance of place and how it informs her work. “Working from place is the very foundation of our approach. The idea of place is a rich one and it informs all the the work we do, whether it be with artisan or student groups.” She will touch on specific projects (including the Rhode Island School of Design collaboration), explain the methodologies and lessons learned along the way, and highlight how these feed into her current work.


Mimi is a skilled designer and educator with extensive international experience in product design and development, export marketing, and artisan training. She has worked in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa assisting artisan groups with the design and production of innovative ceramic, textile, and natural fibre products for the export market. Known for mixing the cultural past and present surroundings, Robinson has been creating her own designs reflecting her modern perspective and use of centuries-old materials for high-end American and European retailers and manufacturers.

In addition, she has worked for the non-profit organization Aid to Artisans for the past 10 years, collaborating with craftspeople around the world to create products using traditional skills and local materials that help build markets for their work. Most recently, she initiated Bridging Cultures Through Design, an initiative which promotes and engages creative exchanges between students and artisan communities around the world.

Mimi is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and has her own design firm based in San Francisco.

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