India has the largest population of blind people in the world—15 million people lack sight, in part because of malnutrition and disease, and in part because of lack of knowledge about the danger of looking at the sun. There's a stigma associated with blindness, and many blind Indians struggle to find work. Made in the Dark, a project designed by students from the Royal College of Art in London and the Indian National Institute of Design is an attempt to find a new solution.
The students worked with two local NGOs that provide education for blind children and teach craft skills to blind people of all ages. Even when fully trained in craftmaking, however, blind people had little luck finding jobs. The design team wanted to take advantage of existing craft skills but give blind artisans an advantage by creating a new art form.
The designers created a new "color-scent language" that matches the hue of a specific jewelry bead with a particular scent. It gives blind craftspeople the opportunity not just to do the work of assembling handmade jewelry, but to actually design the crafts themselves.
The designers helped create a brand that would appeal to their chosen market of progressive, middle-class Indian women. Ultimately, they hope that the line of jewelry will not only help provide blind Indians with work, but also bring more attention to the problem of preventable blindness.
Images courtesy of Made in the Dark