Founded in 2006 as an educational initiative, Bridging Cultures Through Design grew out of Mimi Robinson’s career as a designer in the field of artisan development. The purpose of the initiative is to educate the next generation of designers and to create links between student designers, artisan enterprises and the local and global markets.

Launched at Rhode Island School of Design with funding from Aid to Artisans, AgExport and selected Guatemala exporters, the initiative has expanded from educational collaborations to cultural institutions, trade commissions, and NGOs to provide training and onsite mentoring, design to market programs, product development and workshops. Our partners have included Rhode Island School of Design, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and California College of the Arts.

Each initiative includes an immersive curriculum followed by in country fieldwork where students and artisans collaborate to conduct design research and investigate craft development. In this environment, students explore how the incorporation of the design process can generate sustainable income for artisans while preserving cultural identity in the global market.



Bridging Cultures Through Design/Krgzstan, explored the nomadic history and felt making traditions of this ancient culture including design seminars, hands-on workshops and market exploration.


Bridging Cultures Through Design/Guatemala introduced students to Guatemalan weaving techniques through one on one instruction, group design sessions, natural dye workshops and prototype development.


Student designed collections from Bridging Cultures Through Design/Guatemala were showcased at the New York International Gift Fair, with support from International Development Bank, Guatemala to create market links benefiting artisan groups.

Bridging Cultures Through Design includes:
+ Design methodology
+ Market considerations
+ Sustainable, ethical practices
+ Working within cultural contexts

Mimi Robinson Design’s role includes:
+ Curriculum development
+  Seminars
+ On-site workshops for artisan enterprises with training for creative entrepreneurs

Read more about the project: 

Bridging Cultures Through Design, Krgzstan

Treehugger – Guatemala

Hand Eye Magazine

Design Bridge