Currently on display at the Cooper Hewitt as part of the Why Desgn Now? National Design Triennial, is the work of renowned design producer Artecnica. Partnering with the nonprofit organizations Aid to Artisans and the British Council to identify artisan communities around the world with which to pair internationally respected designers such as Hella Jongerius and Stephen Burk, to create viable products for the global design market. Faced with a dwindling market for local artisan work, the Design with a Conscience collaboration successfully combines fair-trade practices, sustainable and recycled materials, and design insight to increase work and revenue for these impoverished communities. A true partnership, the designer’s work is influenced by the artisans’ materials, methods, environment, and culture.
Witches’ Kitchen, a handcrafted kitchenware collection, is the most recent project in Artecnica’s ongoing campaign. Inspired by the darker side of Western fairytales, industrial designer Tord Boontje worked with Brazil’s Coopa-Roca women’s cooperative to make an all black, hand-sewn selection of kitchen couture; with Guatemalan artisans to make hand-carved, double-ended wooden utensils; and with Colombian potters for a group of hand-formed black ceramic cookware. At the center of Artecnica’s series are the people who sustain the traditional crafts, building ongoing relationships with each group. The Coopa-Roca women’s cooperative, which previously made a Boontje-designed chandelier, makes the hand-sewn Witches’ and Wizards’ Apron and Glove collection. Boontje introduced a natural pattern from the forest as a new graphic addition to traditional Colombian black pottery. Leaves are pressed into the wet clay and burn away when fired, leaving an imprint. Made without glazes, the cookware—a casserole and saucepan—are naturally lead- and toxin-free. Each of the carved Guatemalan utensils is made from sustainable and reforested wood sourced locally.
Witches’ Kitchen collection, Design with a Conscience series. Tord Boontje (Dutch, b. 1968), Studio Tord Boontje. Client: Artecnica. France, 2008. Excerpts and images courtesy of www.cooperhewit.org.
About the Exhibition
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
2 East 91st Street, NY, NY.
On view through January 9, 2011.