Design w/Conscience is a program to manufacture and produce products in accordance with humanitarian and environmentally friendly principles, founded by Artecnica in 2002.
Artecnica had invited talented designers of international fame ( eg Tord Boontje / Hella Jongerius / Campana’s / Stephen Burks etc ) to contribute new ideas to an ever expanding design collection and to team them with artisans in need around the world, invigorating commerce and assisting surrounding communities.
The mission is to promote self-sustaining communities of talented artisans in underdeveloped countries. The model is simple: the value of artisan-made goods has always been appreciated. But with the globalization of trade, village artisans have become divorced from their traditional markets, insulating them from the potential demand for their craft.
The designers and DWC work closely with the artisans to ensure a quality product every time. Their goal is to create products that these communities can develop for 10 years.
People not only purchase these products because they’re beautifully designed and exquisitely hand-crafted, they also buy them because they feel an emotional connection with the people that made them. Even though, initially, people are drawn to the “style” of the objects, more importantly, they’re consciously taking part in a much bigger story.
Style is only one facet in the broader meaning of design. A more important part of design requires creating things that have meaning beyond the product itself.
Artecnica’s vision is to introduce into the world’s artisanal communities two essential components: the designer and the project producer. The designer can dovetail the capacities of artisans with the needs of the international market-place. The project producer provides the logistics, marketing, and art direction necessary to bring the work of the designer and the artisan to the consumer. As the project producer, Artecnica partners with such nonprofit organizations as ‘aid to artisans’ and the ‘british council’. the challenge is to develop a competitive product that will encourage the survival of indigenous craft. Fulfilling this mission requires a smart designer, a savvy and visionary project producer, and a willing and ambitious artisan.
Our objective is to avoid the mechanization of the artisan, which devalues his work and undermines the project from both a design and an economic standpoint. In accomplishing these goals they try to avoid the assembly line production, exploitation of third world labor, and displacement of workers that often results from monopoly-oriented marketing organizations with global reach.
Artecnica’s innovative Design With Conscience project, pairs iconic designers with artisans in impoverished areas around the globe to create functional, high-end products out of humble, recycled materials.
Tord Boontje’s enchanting Come Rain Come Shine chandeliers are of fabric scraps crocheted by a women’s cooperative in a Rio de Janeiro shantytown. For his tranSglass series (co-designed by Emma Woffenden), workers in Guatemala grind discarded beer and wine bottles into stunning sculptural vases and carafes. His new Witches’ Kitchen sorcery-inspired line features cookware by Colombian potters and wood utensils by carvers in Guatemala.
“I strongly believe we are in a moment of change,” the charming, soft-spoken Boontje told the crowd, articulating the yearning people feel nowadays for things that are real and pure. “We don’t like pre-prepared meals from a factory. We like organic food—you know, food. We love to have things that are human.” Witches’ Kitchen pots and casseroles, he noted, are unglazed and chemical-free, with an authentic look and feel that “makes them extremely tempting for cooking.”
At the heart of that authenticity is handwork. “What we’re trying to do is show that design really comes from craft, from working with the hands on products. This is a process designers have been talking about for a long time, and it’s a trend that’s coming about, finally,” said Artecnica’s Enrico Bressan.
Aside from their usefulness, aesthetic appeal and marketability, Design with Conscience products are intended as a model of responsible environmental and humanitarian practice, as well as economic development.
Lori Grey of the nonprofit organization Aid to Artisans commented, “When I saw the products at a trade show recently, I really cried, to see artisans go from being destitute to having this amazing trade.”