BE OPEN Announces a New Project for 2014/15: Finding a Place for Traditional Skills in the Future

BE OPEN, the global philanthropic foundation, today announced their plans for a worldwide project that looks at the handmade and how to ensure its survival in the future.

The foundation’s mission to seek out and platform creative talent is underpinned by robust business thinking: craft and craftsmanship need a re-brand, a holistic marketing concept that will give them global appeal.

The project, which will run for two years, is part of BE OPEN’s theme for 2014/15: North/South – East/West.  2012/13 saw a focus on the senses, but for the next year BE OPEN will travel to the four corners of the world, seeking out a new generation of makers and designers, as well as students, academics and retail industry professionals, to develop the subject of making.  North/South – East/West will explore where and how our diverse cultures can meet and how to take traditional skills into the future, through innovation and technology.

The journey begins in India in the first quarter of 2014, with a showcase of furniture and tableware, textiles and jewels that reveal an imaginative reinterpretation of traditional craft skills by celebrated contemporary Indian designers.  The project will then travel to Japan for a showcase of contemporary Japanese designers, before moving on to other continents.

The key to this project is to keep traditional making alive by making it part of the market economy, rather than relegating it to the moribund museum space.

BE OPEN founder Elena Baturina’s business know-how is the guiding principle in shaping this project: “Rather than creating an overview of contemporary craft,” she says “we are making it the focus of a project that deals with supply and demand. Through intensive discussions with local craftspeople and industry experts in each of our project capitals, we will create a blueprint for an international ‘brand’, if you like, that communicates the potential of traditional craftsmanship to a cosmopolitan, international audience.” She continues: “Nowadays the marketing of a product is vital to its success, so we will present new crafted objects in the right environment and with the right branding to make them appeal to a sophisticated consumer.”

The work will be exhibited in temporary spaces that have the feel of a store, with name, labels and tags, shopping bags and display all reflecting the ‘brand’s’ essence: dynamic, contemporary craft, grounded in tradition, yet reinterpreted for today. The project will prove that there is a future for time-honoured techniques, both in the local and global marketplace.

In addition to the ‘concept store’ style exhibition, discussion panels will see prominent international design and fashion professionals sharing experiences and discussing their approach to the future of making in a globalised world.

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BE OPEN is a global initiative to foster creativity and innovation, a think tank whose mission is to promote people and ideas today to build solutions for tomorrow. It is a cultural and social initiative supported by the Russian philanthropist, businesswoman and entrepreneur Elena Baturina, behind who stands an international team.

The foundation was launched in April 2012 during Milan Design Week, with the goal of becoming a bridge between the great minds of our time — philosophers, sociologists, designers, architects, urbanists, artists, writers, businessmen and opinion leaders — and the promising new minds of the younger generation.

Founder Elena Baturina says: “We engage with people across all platforms – the arts, science, education and the media – as we believe that the most innovative discoveries are made where these disciplines meet.”

BE OPEN is developing its work through exhibitions, events and panel discussions in the world’s design capitals, including, to date, Milan, Basel, London and Miami. The Foundation has also launched the Inside the Academy programme, an extensive educational platform offering support to young creatives, students, schools and universities through an awards scheme, a master class program and a ranking system. Open calls for submissions, a strong social media and web presence and ongoing research will build the Foundation‘s network, an essential tool in helping find the talented individuals and idea that can create solutions for tomorrow.

Elena Baturina says “Education is an essential part of what we become as people and as citizens. Choosing the right way to develop one’s talent is crucial and, too often, young people are left with no support to develop their potential. BE OPEN’s aim is to become a partner for students and institutions, to bridge the gap between education and career and accompany young, talented individuals towards a bright future”.