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ASEAN master craftsmen get Milan exposure

Master craftsmen in Southeast Asia can look forward to a new design movement slowly developing with a new project entitled “Improving the Current Status of ASEAN Master Craft Designers.”

It is a project initiated by Dr. Mina Gabor, chairman of the Philippine Small & Medium Business Development Foundation, Inc. (Philsmed) and endorsed by the National Commission of Culture and Arts and the Department of Foreign Affairs with funding from ASEAN – Republic of Korea FOCP Project.

Assisted by noted international designer, architect and art director Paola Navone, the delegation was exposed to the latest designs from the world’s top design brands while absorbing the soul of design from the exhibits and installations around Milan in Italy.

The mission was led by AEAN Deputy Secretary General of Asean for Socio-Cultural Community ASEAN Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee and Dr. Gabor, partner-implementor.

Master craftsmen from ASEAN member countries  learn about the latest designs from the world's top design brands in Milan, Italy 
Designers who attended were Masulin Lim of Byo Living, Indonesia (weaving); Roselyn Lah of Livan Craft from Sarawak, Malaysia  (beading); Al Valenciano of Balay ni Atong, Philippines (handweaving); Rush Pleansuk of BlueDot Design World, Thailand (mixed technique sculpture and product design); and Dr. Truong PhiDuc of the University of Fine Arts Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

Other Philippine delegates were Design Center Philippines senior designer Ramon Pabillon who represented the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Philsmed Deputy Project Manager Oly Delos Santos.

The Project seeks to strengthen the use of design in strengthening cultural identity in merchandising, packaging and marketing of Asean products by developing the region’s master craft designers. 

The Project was conceived after the 2nd ASEAN Handicraft Promotion and Development Association (AHPADA) International Arts and Crafts Expo in Manila when member countries lamented the lack of new designs in Asean products, which was seen as the cause of poor sales.

To remedy the problem, the members proposed the holding of a biennial ASEAN Master Craft Designers Festival to showcase design development by master craft designers.

The master craftsmen will apply these perspectives to their individual styles and train junior master craftsmen in their countries’ process, says Gabor. The Project will enhance the importance of design as a tool in strengthening cultural identity and creating job opportunities with world-class and environmentally sustainable products.

According to Gabor, after the Milan observation tour, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia have already conducted “echo seminars” to cascade the learning to the junior master craftsmen in their countries.

The Project’s first phase involves Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, whose master craftsmen will be showcased in the Manila FAME Market Week set on Oct. 20 to 23 at the World Trade Center.

Delegates from other ASEAN members–Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Singapore will be invited to the Manila exhibit so they could introduce to their governments the Project’s next phase.

Topics: ASEAN Master Craft Designers
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