The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, a brand new, international, non-profit entity has been set up to defend the creation of cultural, social and economic value as embodied in master craftsmanship, or the métiers d’art. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the foundation will encourage and facilitate a vibrant dialogue between craftsmanship and design in order to secure their future and inspire a cultural movement of excellence.

“We are living on the cusp of tremendous systemic change,” Founder Johann Rupert explains. “Globalization, the digital revolution and the growing intelligence capacity of machines have opened up vast new realms of possibility. But they also carry the threat of increasing unemployment and social inequality. Our foundation seeks to redress some of these alarming unintended impacts. These forces also threaten to eclipse singular human skills and centuries of culture and know-how, and we want to make sure that this precious heritage doesn’t get left behind.”

Culture of craftsmanship

The new foundation regards fine craftsmanship as living testimony to the unbounded potential of the human spirit and its capacity to create lasting objects of beauty which are also reflections of culture. The métiers d’art embody culture at deeper levels and create meaningful links between an object and its geography, its maker and its owner or user.

“The value of these links cannot be underestimated,” Franco Cologni, Cofounder says. “Today, more than ever, we are in great need of connection, both to our environment and to one another. We have been working in Italy for two decades to create a movement that acknowledges and encourages the work of master artisans and gives young people the chance to enter this world of culture and beauty.

“I am sure that the time is ripe now for the emergence of an ‘artisan humanism’ everywhere and this new foundation will bring key actors together to create a network to stimulate and sustain this movement.” 

The foundation will create or support activities that:

* forge new ways for designers and artisans to work together, inform each other’s perspectives and share recognition;

* facilitate apprenticeships which pass on highly specialised knowledge and form bridges across generations;

* promote master craftsmanship across disciplines and countries through communication initiatives including publications, digital spaces, specialised networking, and events;

* foster creative dialogue and interaction throughout the worlds of craftsmanship and design in Europe and beyond.

Creativity and craftsmanship

The idea of pairing creativity with craftsmanship is rich with potential. Over the last decades, young talent has been increasingly attracted to the field of design. Linking design to master craftsmanship should expand interest in time-honoured trades while allowing designers to experience and appreciate the realities of materials and making. Recovering and enriching the value of dialogue and mutual understanding between the two realms will also stimulate creation and innovation and serve as an opportunity for smart experimentation by artisans and designers together.

Fundamentally open, the Foundation will pursue strategic partnerships with like-minded individuals, organizations, and entities. Its vision encompasses design, the wide variety of the métiers d’art, and stretches across countries and spheres of activities – intellectual, practical, and economic. As such, it will also be highly collaborative, crossing traditional lines to develop projects that unite people in order to celebrate the work of masters today and guarantee their place in the future.