Connecting craft, design and the wood industry in South Tyrol: From clusters to creative ecosystem

Federica Vigano*, Lauren England, Roberta Comunian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Craft work provides unique opportunities to understand connections between artisanal production, innovative design and industrial manufacturing. It also enables us to reflect on the limits of existing research on creative clusters and industry spillovers and variety which misses important connections between the local industrial base, traditional cultural production, and design and innovation-led creative and cultural industries (CCIs). This is particularly relevant to rural economies where CCIs clusters have often been disconnected from local assets and manufacturing. The paper takes an ecological perspective to explore how craft activity diffuses across permeable boundaries of industrial, traditional, and creative production, and contributes to rural regional development by facilitating related and unrelated variety. Using the wood ecosystem of Val Gardena and the region of South Tyrol in Italy as a case study, the paper identifies shared ecosystem-sustaining assets – materiality, locality, and skills/knowledge – and explores how these relationships lead to different evolutionary trajectories and economic opportunities. The paper demonstrates how an ecosystem perspective expands our understanding of creative clusters beyond CCIs and shows how craft is connected to other local industries, contributing to local development dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103149
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Early online date2 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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