Homo Faber, the Venice-based biennial showcase for contemporary artisans from around the world, will not be back until 2024. But having drawn a record 55,000 visitors to the 2022 edition in the spring, the event’s coordinators at the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship in Geneva wanted to find a way to keep the momentum going.
The best way to do that, they decided, would be to help people shop: As of Dec. 1, for the first time, they plan to feature selected artisans each day on Homo Faber’s social media platforms in a kind of Advent calendar, or countdown to Christmas.
“Our whole mission is to highlight craftsmanship as something beautiful, meaningful and sustainable, so we thought why not focus on that for the holidays?” said Alberto Cavalli, the foundation’s executive director and the general curator of Homo Faber.
“Given the complications and concerns of this year, we believe that people will be looking for connection more than just exchanging objects,” he said. “Buying something from a craftsman is a first act to making that connection.”
The Michelangelo Foundation — created in 2016 by Johann Rupert, the South African billionaire and chairman of the luxury goods group Richemont, and by Franco Cologni, an Italian author and former Richemont business executive — has been championing master craftsmanship by creating networks of artisans and promoting the applied arts. Its Homo Faber event (in English, “man the maker”) was introduced in 2018.
The artisans to be highlighted on social media were selected from among the 1,900 individuals and businesses listed on Homo Faber’s online directory (artisans may apply for listing and then are assessed by the foundation). While the majority are from Europe, there also are craftspeople based in South Korea, Singapore, Colombia and Japan, the country highlighted at the live event this year.
Narrowing the list for the social media project was complex, Mr. Cavalli acknowledged. “Part of it is happy-difficult, because when you are looking at beautiful things it’s painful to make a choice,” he said.
One consideration, for example, was whether the artisan had a functioning website with e-commerce capabilities. Purchases would have to be done directly with artisans because Homo Faber does not conduct sales.
Objects selected for the holiday countdown range from 27 euros ($26.95) for a set of roll-it-yourself candles in honeycomb beeswax from Spain to €5,652 for Lumo earrings with mandarin garnets by the Czech jewelry designer Janja Prokic.
Items made by artisans listed in the online directory include handsewn leather hiking boots (price on application) by the Slovenian architect and designer Ales Kacin; a solid stick umbrella with a Japanese bamboo handle (€450) by Francesco Maglia, a sixth-generation company that uses 19th-century techniques; and handmade-to-measure skis, some in wood marquetry (starting at 2,200 Swiss francs, or $2,218) by the Swiss ski artisan Lucas Bessard.
Also, a custom-made stainless-steel gravel road bicycle, first created by Caren Hartley for the 2015 “Cycle Revolution” exhibition at the Design Museum in London, is priced at 4,500 pounds ($5,142). A dog collar in suede with Swarovski crystals and gold hardware by the Italian artisan Jacopo Malucchi is listed at €300. And a couture hand fan by the Paris-based atelier Duvelleroy has a mother-of-pearl marquetry frame and palmette leaves made of hand-woven fabric with nacre inlay developed by Tamiya Raden in Kyoto, Japan (price upon request).
Homo Faber has produced a group of video tutorials on floral design for the holidays, too.
Segments feature Emily Avenson, an American farmer-florist and ribbon maker in Belgium; Katya Hutter, an Amsterdam-based fashion stylist-turned-floral designer; the award-winning floral artist Gabor Nagy of Budapest, and the sisters Laura and Teresa Cugusi of Puscina flowers in Montefollonico, Italy.
The videos offer tips on making wreaths, table centerpieces and fireplace decorations. They are planned to be posted periodically from Nov. 25 through Dec. 17 and will remain on the Homo Faber website and on YouTube through the end of January. Workshop visits and classes also may be arranged, depending on locations.
After the holidays, the organizers said, they plan to keep adding new names and gift inspirations to the online directory, particularly from craftspeople in as-yet unrepresented countries in Africa and Asia.
“We’re constantly looking at new ways to present artisans,” Mr. Cavalli said. “Our hope is to make people realize that Homo Faber doesn’t happen for just three weeks every other year. It can bloom into something else.”