Noted designer, craft revivalist, and Padma Shri recipient Laila Tyabji has been bestowed with the title of National Design Guru by the World University of Design.

Laila Tyabji is a name synonymous with the revival and renaissance of traditional Indian crafts and the empowerment of artisans across the country. Her remarkable journey as a designer, activist, and co-founder of Dastkar, a society for crafts and craftspeople, has left an indelible mark on the Indian cultural landscape. She has played a pivotal role in promoting indigenous crafts and preserving the rich tapestry of Indias artistic heritage.Over the last 35 years, Dastkar, under Laila Tyabjis visionary leadership, has partnered with numerous crafts organizations and NGOs to uplift artisans and provide them with economic opportunities.

Laila Tyabji’s commitment to artisans extends across the length and breadth of the country, encompassing diverse craft forms such as Banjara Needle Crafts, Rabari mirror work from Kutch and Maharashtra, Chikan craft from Lucknow, Gond, Phad, and Mata art from Pacheri, Madhubani painters, Kasuti embroidery from Karnataka, Handloom weavers in Bihar and Karnataka, as well as leather, textile, and terracotta artisans in Rajasthan.

Delivering the MP Ranjan Memorial Lecture at the felicitation ceremony, Laila Tyabji said: “All over India, we have crafts people with extraordinary skills who are able to handcraft everything, from a terracotta statue to a temple, from a wicker basket to diamond jewelry. They are not only an important part of our aesthetic and culture, but of our economy too. These skillsets and Knowledge systems represent a gold mine, an edge that we have over the rest of the world.

Having travelled the world, I have realized that what makes us interesting as a nation are our uniqueness and differences from others in the world, not our similarities. If we need to make a place for ourselves in the world, we should on our core strengths, the distinctive aesthetic of our crafts and knowledge systems.

Addressing the audiences, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Vice-Chancellor, World University of Design, said, “WUD started honoring Design Gurus to inspire design practitioners to strive for excellence as well as knowledge sharing within the community. The recognition of outstanding contributor not only motivates individuals but also draws attention to significance of design education. Laila is an illustrious member of that generation of ‘gurus’ who have, for more than three decades, supported and promoted the cause of crafts and craftspeople of India; designing, developing & contemporarising the crafts, honing skills, and developing markets. She has single handedly created awareness regarding Indian crafts in India and throughout the world.”