Rachel MacHenry seeks to sustain forms of craft production – often with unbroken histories stretching back for hundreds or thousands of years – which may be lost in the course of a single generation because of incursions into local markets by transnational corporations and shifts in the global economy. Her textile designs are developed in partnership with craft producers, and are based on research into the culture and environment of the region. In her work there is a continuous interchange between the processes of design and production.
As a designer, she seeks out areas in which a high level of skill and refined tradition can be mobilized in a way that sustains the local economy. Her design and business models are based on long-term partnerships that produce functional textiles while providing a stable income, good working conditions, and continuity of cultural knowledge for producers. She has worked extensively with artisans in Nepal and India, and has consulted on similar projects in Colombia and Bangladesh.