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One could argue that we’re part of a generation who are forgetting what it means to build something with our hands. Mass consumption and profitability might well have been the two biggest adversaries for craft culture, but a small yet powerful group of individuals are taking a stand.
One of craftsmanship’s most vocal advocates is Johann Rupert, chairman of the luxury goods group Richemont, owners of Cartier, Montblanc and Van Cleef & Arpels. In a recent interview with the New York Times he stated, “Ultimately, luxury is not something made by a machine in a repetitive fashion. It needs a human element, that is what makes it unique and different.” Going on to say, “We need to protect that talent at its source”.
Rupert makes a compelling argument and his enthusiasm is certainly not a placid one, he recently co-founded the Michelangelo Foundation, with former collaborator Franco Coligni. Based in Geneva it is a nonprofit organization and is primarily a vehicle that seeks to strengthen the maker culture’s relationship with the world of design. By celebrating genuine craftsmanship, the Michaelangelo Foundation has built and continues to build a community and network of similar-spirited artisans to forge everything from apprenticeships to raising awareness and credibility for applied arts culture.
Of course Richemont’s chairman understands that this type of change isn’t likely to come to fruition in a matter of years. It might well take a decade or two for this to gravitate from a trend into a complete shift in perception. But perhaps Mr Rupert put it best when he stated, “We are living on the cusp of tremendous systemic change, and while many things may be in flux, one thing is clear: it’s time to give back and to put the human being back in the centre of our systems”.
Image courtesy of T.Bertelsen / ©MichelangeloFoundation2016