Fair Trade

For Chris Haughton (chrishaughton.com), getting involved in fair-trade products has breathed new life into his career as a designer.

“When I was in art college I had a very idealistic idea of what good design can be, but that became compromised when I was working for companies,” he recalls.

Chris began to find a new direction when he discovered People Tree (peopletree.co.uk), a fair-trade outfit set up 20 years ago in Japan to demonstrate that ethics and fashion need not be mutually exclusive. He started designing T-shirts and other items for them in his spare time and remains involved to this day.

Then while travelling in Nepal, he stumbled across a second project that drew him in. It was a cooperative in Kathmandu that wove traditional carpets “with nothing more than bales of wool and natural dyes”, he says.

Chris felt the carpets would sell better in the West with more contemporary designs. So he and a friend set up digitalhandmade.com, a website that finds ways of implementing digitally submitted art on actual carpets. Chris now plans to invite big-name illustrators to submit designs, with carpets bearing the results to be exhibited in London early next year. He hopes some Digital Arts readers will contribute designs, too.

Chris Haughton’s interest in fair trade drove him to build tools to realise digital designs in textile form. The KTS cooperative in Nepal makes the items, whose sales benefit local orphans (above)