In September 2014, Anou and the British Council launched its first iteration of its collaboration called Common Thread. The objective of the Common Thread programme was to create an equal exchange of ideas and experiences between artisan leaders from the Anou community and British designers.
During this program, Moroccan artisans hosted British designer Sabrina Kraus-Lopez, who led an introductory design workshop with several artisan leaders from the Anou community. The workshop focused on inspiring new design through the artisans’ personal stories and culture. The ideas and designs produced were used by Sabrina and the artisans to create the Common Thread Collection, which was displayed at the London Design Festival seen by over 25,000 visitors.
At the conclusion of the program, Anou’s artisan leaders travelled to London to visit numerous galleries, museums, designer studios and many other events that were a part of the London Design Festival. The experience exposed artisans to the idea that design has value, transforming how the artisans perceive design in their own work as artisans.
The British Council are pleased to announce this year’s Common Thread residents, selected after an extensive open call in both the UK and Morocco. The residencies will take place over a period of 3 weeks in August, when the 3 residents from the UK and 3 residents from Morocco will live in the High Atlas Mountains paired with artisans who are part of the Moroccan e-commerce artisan-led platform Anou. Residents and artisans will lead workshops and share their practices with each other in this exciting opportunity.
The main objective of the Common Thread residencies is to bring together a wide range of creatives based in the UK and Morocco to share and exchange creative processes as well as address key questions the artisan community in Morocco have developed as a result of last year’s Common Thread programme. This experience aims to:
• Create a meaningful meeting of peers from the UK and Morocco to exchange skills, knowledge and ideas and to explore the relationship between craft and contemporary design in these two countries;
• Enable participants from different backgrounds to experience first-hand each other’s industries and approaches in a way they might not otherwise have been able to;
• Expose participants to different approaches to the creative process;.
• Enable participants to share aspects of their culture and how it influences their work;
• Address questions that have arisen within the Anou community as a result of last year’s Common Thread programme, such as what constitutes a design, how can a design be protected and what role does cultural heritage and craft play in contemporary design;
• Provide designers with a hands-on opportunity to learn an artisan craft technique.
The residents will all come together 10 August 2015 in the Ait Bougemez Valley. During the first week of the residencies, participants will present workshops around questions about design put forward by the Anou artisans in the open call. They will consider what constitutes a design, new tools and processes for designing, what is the different between copying and being inspired, how designs can be protected, and what role craft and cultural heritage can play in contemporary design. Residents will then be paired with artisans, who they will work with over 2 weeks to develop new work – either side by side or collaboratively.