This year, the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship has launched a brand new educational programme, designed for duos of master artisans and young talents, to facilitate transmission of skills and support the first steps towards taking up crafts as one’s profession. In partnership with Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Foundation launched the first edition of its Homo Faber Fellowship in Lisbon last month.
The Fellowship has selected for its inaugural edition 20 duos of Master Artisans and Fellows who, over the course of seven months, will benefit from a one-month entrepreneurial masterclass, delivered by an academic partner, and six-month internships in the artisans’ workshops. Beginning in late October, the six-month residential placement in the Masters’ workshops will focus on honing practical skills.
The programme was flagged off with a month-long entrepreneurial and creative Masterclass at Portuguese contemporary artist Joana Vasconcelos’ studio, in partnership with Jaeger-LeCoultre. The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship is an international non-profit organisation that celebrates and preserves master craftsmanship and its connection to the worlds of design, hospitality, and the wider arts. It was founded by Johann Rupert, a South African businessman, and Franco Cologni, an Italian entrepreneur, author and cultural authority, who holds a degree in philosophy. The Foundation organises collaboration programmes, such as Doppia Firma, to provide opportunity for dialogue and cultural exchange, in recognition of the fact that creativity and craftsmanship go hand in hand.
The jury looked for artisans, who needed to pass on their craft knowhow and had close ties with their local territories, and fellows from diverse creative backgrounds, who wished to acquire new skills. ESSEC — École Supérieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales, a major French business and management school — recently presented a bespoke programme for the participants, which included entrepreneurial vision, leadership skills, brand desirability, digital marketing, and business planning.
During the Masterclass at artist Joana Vasconcelos’ studio, Jaeger-LeCoultre presented a design case study related to the Art Deco movement. The Maison’s CEO, Catherine Rénier, together with Lionel Favre, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Product Design Director, travelled to Lisbon to meet the participants and exchange ideas with them. Rénier also shared Jaeger-LeCoultre’s vision and values, related to craft and education. The Masters’ ateliers are located in five European countries — France, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. The Fellows have been drawn from a variety of backgrounds and a diverse range of crafts, including ceramics, textiles, bicycle building, feather-work, and basket weaving.
While the Masters will teach their traditional savoir-faire, the relationship is envisaged as a two-way exchange, with the Fellows bringing a modern sensibility to their work and enabling the Masters to see their crafts with fresh eyes. During their six-month residencies, the Fellows will be continuously mentored and will co-create objects with their Masters, with the potential for these creative collaborations to be commercialised. The co-creations will be based on a theme related to Art Deco.