As a large group of creatives reach out to artisans from all around the world, Sven Van Buuren, Interior Architect & Co-Owner of Institute of Interior Impact talks in an exclusive chat with Authindia about the immutable role of artisans and craftsmen in shaping stunning and sustainable vernacular architectures.
What is your take on the significance of vernacular architecture in sustainable designs?
I believe this is very important. Local tradesmen, artisans and contractors in general have very specific knowledge. Not only cultural knowledge but also climate and environmental knowledge. I think bigger companies or brands can help change the way we create and build, but they are too sluggish to really ignite something. They can deliver the innovations but local people actually embrace this and make it happen. Combined with heritage, creativity, knowledge of the local climate and environment etc.
If I may zoom out to not just India, as my knowledge on this subject in India is very limited. I see architects like Glenn Murcutt in Australia doing this for years. He spends a year on site, studying the landscape, environment and local climate. He also involves local knowledge but uses broadly available materials in his designs, combined with a lot of local produce.
If I look at my own country this is not as much of a clear subject as there sadly aren’t a lot of local artisans left and the country is too small to be able to distinguish this. But on a European level this is also more visible. Small design entrepreneurs are the ones that ignite sustainability. It gets embraced by the big corporations and then mass produced.
How the collaboration between architects and craftsmen can help manifest the cultural identities of local artisans?
Internet and being connected is the way to go. I think what you are doing with your (online) magazine, connecting creatives and local artisans is the way to go. Just like we are connecting creatives from around the world. I know there are some hurdles to take here.
But it’s not only that. It’s not only about connecting. It’s also about educating. I can imagine a local artisan could learn a great deal from an interior designer or an architect and a designer from an artisan.
Even the most modern architects have a profound respect for local cultural identities but a complete lack of knowledge on that part. So I think it’s great you reached out to me as I’ve been learning quite a bit already.
I think it all comes down to Human to Human connection, but on a big scale.
How important is the role of Academicians and Institutes in incorporating regional crafts in innovative design?
I believe it’s exactly the same, but they have a bigger responsibility as they have more leverage and power than a single architect or artisan.
I do believe though that innovation of regional artisan crafts is a good option. Some people may disagree on that I suppose. But this way you can add more meaning to your designs and products.
Do you consider digital media has a potential role to play in cultural architectural production on larger scale?
Yes absolutely. We touched this subject before. I think we as digital media, digital hubs or digital communities have more than a role in it. I believe we are the key to accelerating this in a positive direction. Authindia and we with #changemakers at Institute of Interior Impact can create awareness on both sides and make connections.
What do you foresee or expect for the future in terms of employing more artisans in various projects?
For me this is a difficult question to answer. In my country there are not a lot of artisans left. And the ones that are still there are working on restoration projects.
I do however see a large group of creatives that reach out to artisans from all around the world.
I know Dutch designers that connected with Turkish artisans to create new tableware. Or designers that went to the Himalaya to study the way of felt making over there and work together with local artisans. And many more examples like this. Well, now that I think of it, that may be the way forward.
Collaborations instead of employments is the key of harnessing artisanal skills, after all, the artisans hold the knowledge of these ancient crafts. We don’t want them to go extinct. If we think global, but act local and we integrate forces, then artisans are part of the solution to make this world beautiful and better.