Hinamatsuri Project

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Old Traditions, New Eyes

“Let sleeping dogs lie” is an old English expression that warns of the consequences of disturbing the status quo.  But for designers, re-imagining old traditions is one temptation that cannot be resisted. Craftspeople, too, relish new perspectives on the traditional  discipline they practice while for people with disabilities the world is always seen through fresh eyes.

This international project has brought together the creative ideas of designers, craftspeople and young people with disabilities in a co-design process across borders. Together, they re-imagined and re-interpreted the Doll’s Festival from their own international and outsider viewpoint. In the process, they have linked contemporary design, social enterprise and inclusivity with an old and respected Japanese tradition.

We hope this fresh vision will be as inspiring to visitors of this small exhibition as it has been to all who have taken part in the project. We hope too that it serves as a new model for future collaborative projects of this type.

Julia Cassim, Project Leader

Royal College of Art, Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design




Directed by Ligia Lopes of Design Includes You, the project brings together craftspeople, designers and five young people with special educational needs from the Pais em Rede Association– a non-profit organisation in Lisbon.

The products are based on the young people’s drawings and inspired by images, objects and stories of the Doll’s Festival. These have been re-interpreted by the designers and fabricated using Portuguese traditional techniques- Bilros lace, filigree silverware, brushes and wood crafts.

The Bilros Lace products have been made by students from Jose Regio, the only vocational school that teaches this technique located in the Vila do Conde outside Porto.  The filigree is by Antero Santos with the brushes fabricated at Escovaria de Belomonte, Porto’s oldest specialist shop and manufacturer.






Directed by Laila Cassim of Tokyo University of the Arts, beneficiaries of the Himawari-en and Yazaike sheltered workshops worked with four design students at Tokyo University of the Arts and three senior designer professionals.

Himawari-en and Yazaike are part of the Adachi no Sato welfare organisation in Adachi Ward,Tokyo. They provide recreational and creative activities, vocational training and work opportunities for adults with learning or multiple disabilities.

Himawari-en runs a bakery, shop and delivery service for its products and does small-scale component assembly while Yazaike does recycling work and provides cleaning services.

Regular art activities are held but are not directed by design professionals. The Dolls Festival product range is based on the drawings of Himawarien and Yazaike beneficiaries developed during workshops held with them and reinterpreted by the designers.



Bosnia and Herzegovina

Directed by Nataša Perković, of Design Goods and Professor Ognjenka Finci of the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Sarajevo, fourth year product design students participated in the Hinamatsuri project as part of their Artistic Design class.

The main aim of this core subject is to encourage students to find and expand their own artistic vocabulary in design. They must develop a conceptual basis for work by experimenting with materials in different ways.  Their final product must be made by themselves or in collaboration with different craft workshops.

The project began with a demonstration on the subject of the Doll’s festival by staff from the Japanese Embassy in Sarajevo. The students were then free to design their own interpretations of the dolls.