With SELCO Foundation, Pratik Modi designed new technologies for resource-deprived handweavers in Bangalore, India

By studying possible interventions in the handloom industry, Pratik Modi sought to design solutions that benefitted both the weaver and the textile industry in India.

Research and Design

Integrated Design & Management student, Pratik Modi, spent the summer of 2017 working with SELCO Foundation, a non-profit research and design organization focused on energy-access based issues. As part of his project, Modi led a team of three people looking at manual weaving using handlooms. Their goal was to study potential interventions in the handloom industry and design a product for weavers with no or unreliable access to electricity. “The first six weeks I either did research at the office or spent time doing research in the field,” Modi said. “After that I presented my findings and ideas to people at the organization…and spent time in the workshop and lab building a prototype.” Modi believed it was crucial for him to study the problem from multiple perspectives before building and testing a solution.

Solutions that Work for Everyone

“I was not very familiar with the textile industry so I had to study a lot of information to be able to ask the right questions,” remembered Modi. “The right product needed to be a mix of what was best for the weavers and the industry both and it was difficult to determine this.” However, after spending several weeks focused on learning, Modi was able to understand the complex issues and design a product that his host thought would be useful. After Modi presented, they moved forward to design and piloting that product.

“My project gave me the chance to try out and develop design research techniques and create meaningful products in a significant industry in India,” stated Modi. “It also gave me access to people with a lot of expertise in this field.”

After the conclusion of his internship, Modi continued to work with SELCO Foundation as a consultant to take his product forward.