Homo Faber: the beauty of crafting

We can only imagine, or speculate, or dream, of the effect that Venice must have had on the four young Japanese noblemen who, impelled by the Jesuit Alessandro Valignano, arrived in La Serenissima in 1585. Portrayed by Tintoretto and showered with precious gifts – including some of the famous glassware whose high level of craftsmanship was a jealously guarded state secret for the Republic of Venice – the gentlemen (who were at the centre of a complicated political plot also involving Pope Gregory XIII and the Kingdom of Spain) certainly could not have suspected that 300 years later, Venice, by now part of the young Kingdom of Italy, would again relaunch and revitalise the ties between our country and the Land of the Rising Sun. Commercial ties, of course, related once again to precious craftsmanship such as silk products, but also and above all, cultural relationships. Because in order to give birth to beauty, to allow inspiration to become fruitful, to open oneself with wonder to the refined exoticism of a distant fascination, it is necessary first of all to understand each other: precisely for this reason Venice became not only a place of commercial exchange, but also an important centre of linguistic, artistic and cultural dissemination. 

Today, thanks to the second edition of "Homo Faber: Crafting a more human future", Venice is once again a place where craftsmanship, beauty, splendour and inspiration come together and manifest themselves in a contemporary and evocative way. The event spotlights the excellence of international master craftspeople, focusing in particular on those of Japan, the revered craft traditions of the Land of the Rising Sun and its influence on European creativity and craftsmanship. 

Elsewhere, craftspeople and ateliers reveal the essential role of the artisan’s touch in the creation of design objects.
Inspired by a philosophy of sustainability, the event highlights the importance of ensuring the survival of craftsmanship, with a special focus on the younger generations through interactive educational activities aimed at different age groups. The Young Ambassadors Programme will animate the exhibition spaces with its talented students selected from the best schools of applied arts and design from all over Europe, who will be on hand to offer visitors guided tours of the exhibitions.

Homo Faber Event broadens its horizons to explore the cultural relationship between Europe and Japan. This edition honours the official recognition that Japan gives to its best masters, designating them as Preservers of Important Intangible Cultural Properties.

Photo 1 @Robert Wilson_Lovis Dengler Ostenrik
Photo 2 @Rinko Kawauchi - Michelangelo Foundation

Guest Blogger: Alberto Cavalli
published on 07/04/2022

Alberto Cavalli

Alberto Cavalli is General Director of the Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d'Arte. He has a degree in Political Science from the Università Cattolica in Milan. A journalist and writer, he contributes regularly to numerous magazines and is the author of essays and editorials. Since 2014 he has held the chair in "Mestieri d'arte e bellezza italiana" at the Milan Politecnico. In 2016 he was appointed Executive Director of the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship. He is the chief curator of Homo Faber Event.


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