Patty Johnson is a sort of Cameron Sinclair of product design, travelling around the world to help indigenous designers and artisans produce work that appeals to the developed world. Last year we looked at her Vodunuvo project in Haiti. Now she writes about it in Core77 in a New York Design Week Preview of her presentation at ICFF. She talks about the importance of promoting artisans and craft:
All over the world, or rather the real futuristic world we live in where everything is indeed made by hand, artisans continue to make things that are essential to culture, history and most important livelihood. The artisan sector is the second largest employer after agriculture in the developing world. It is the only cultural industry where developing countries are the leaders in the global marketplace, with trade totalling over $23.2 billion annually.
She talks about how Haiti has suffered, and yet how it is maligned.
Haiti: media whipping boy; poster child for poverty and chaos; site for the projection of our collective fears—it has endured both metaphysical and real slings and arrows. It was the first country to take independence through rebellion—Haitians ousted Napoleon and for their efforts paid billions in reparations to compensate France for its loss of men and slaves over the next centuries. They have endured trade embargos by France and the United States. Haitian Voodoo has been pilloried and stereotyped by Hollywood. And, of course, they have recently barely survived a devastating earthquake.
And through all of this, Haitian artistic culture has continued to innovate and adapt proving a robust challenge to our common exclusion of things on the edge.