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Discover craftsmanship in two countries new to Homo Faber Guide: Cyprus and Malta

Cyprus, famous for its artistic needlecraft, lace embroidery, woodwork and for its ceramicists and silversmiths; Malta known for its lace making, weaving, glass blowing and silverware, are both islands which bring rich Mediterranean traditions to the Homo Faber Guide

Artisan Alda Bugeja - ©Inigo Taylor

They have been explored thanks to collaborations with the Phivos Stavrides Foundation – Larnaca Archives and the Malta Creative Collective, who have enabled the Michelangelo Foundation and its researchers to uncover the most interesting craftspeople, museums, galleries and shops found on these islands.

Search the Homo Faber Guide to see Cyprus and Malta in a new light, enriched by virtual craftsmanship discoveries in all corners of these culturally diverse islands. Learn the authentic stories of Cypriot and Maltese artisans and the secrets behind their impressive skills and masterpieces, as they reveal life in their workshops and the inspiration behind their creations. Be guided by the recommendations of country and city ambassadors, such as Michael Anastassiades, ambassador for Nicosia, explore the city through his eyes as he shares his favourite craftspeople and craft addresses.

Portrait of the furniture makers Sahand and Navid Gholipour - ©lovenlight design Sahand & Navid Gholipour, furniture makers, Cyprus
Brothers Sahand and Navid Gholipour turned their wood working hobby into a profession when they established a workshop in a small garage in 2010. Not many years later, they opened a professional workshop in Limassol old city and labelled it Lovenlight. A name that speaks of their sensitive and joyful approach to furniture making. Inspired by the raw and upcycled materials found on their home island of Cyprus, as well as by the traditional craft techniques passed down through generations of local craftspeople, the creative-duo create timeless and contemporary furniture pieces and objects with a playful twist. Originally born in Iran, the brothers look both to eastern and western cultural influences for design ideas. Combining function, execution and appearance, their furniture pieces are distinctive for both their minimalism and eccentricities. For a small burst of joy and colour, their striped spinning tops are particularly eye-catching. Sahand and Navid Gholipour were recommended by the Phivos Stavrides Foundation – Larnaca Archives.

Portrait of ceramicist Elysia Athanatos with one of her creations - ©Elysia Athanatos Elysia Athanatos, ceramicist, Cyprus
Elysia Athanatos’ larger than life ceramic vessels are mesmerising, undoubtedly the result of time spent studying art and ceramics across the world. A trip to China to study porcelain proved to be the most formative. Here, Elysia was dazzled by the alchemy of combining clay and glass and the way in which the elements react and interact with each other. It was also here that Elysia had her first experience of the potter’s wheel. This craft experience led her to study ceramics in Faenza, Italy; while in Denmark she learned to master wood firing. Working on the wheel she develops a strong connection with the forces in play to create contemporary pieces.
She seeks to find the right balance between her body strength and pressure and both the centrifugal force of the wheel and the gravity force of the object. Elysia’s creations are striking for their shapes and her use of gold glazes; making a lustre effect on previously fired pieces of ceramic involves a complicated process of chemical reduction and requires excellent craft skills. Elysia Athanatos was recommended for the Homo Faber Guide by Michael Anastassiades.

Portrait of the weaver Alda Bugeja holding one of her creations - ©Inigo Taylor Alda Bugeja, weaver, Malta
At the mere age of five, Alda Bugeja was already exploring her island’s traditional craft of weaving; today she is one of the last master weavers in Malta. Watching her mother and older sisters skilfully weave intricate patterns, it did not take her long to start experimenting on her own. Alda is passionate about preserving these heritage skills and ensuring that quality is preserved, both in the raw materials that are used as well as in the weaving techniques. She sources her raw materials from local Maltese sheep’s wool and cotton, and uses tools inherited from four generations ago, making her craft both sustainable and eco-friendly. Not only does Alda dedicate many hours to patiently creating her pieces, she also shares her skills, passion and knowledge with young weaving enthusiasts, with the hope of safeguarding her cherished craft for future generations. Alda masters the ancient Maltese techniques of macramé and crocheting which she uses to handcraft blankets, curtains, pouches and animal charms, such as wise old owls. Alda Bugeja was recommended for the Homo Faber Guide by the Malta Creative Collective.

Visit or download the app available for free on both Apple Store and Google Play Store to discover more stories.

User guide:
Homo Faber Guide is structured into different sections: Discover, Visit, Experience and Ambassadors.
Discover: Find a selection of the best master artisans and rising talents, ateliers and manufacturers of excellence from all over Europe. Connect with them directly through the guide.
Visit: Find museums, galleries and shops linked to fine craftsmanship to visit in all corners of the continent.
Experience: Find a curated list of workshop visits, artisan master classes, guided tours, and temporary exhibitions and fairs across Europe.
Ambassadors: Renowned individuals and partner institutions within the craft, creativity and design world who recommend their favourite artisans, galleries and experiences in their home cities.

Subcategories: search by country, city, craft or material.

Notes for editors

Homo Faber Guide places craftsmanship in Europe at your fingertips. Curated by the Michelangelo Foundation, it is an online, searchable platform, which showcases artisans, ateliers, museums, galleries and experiences linked to fine craftsmanship in Europe. The platform connects craft enthusiasts, collectors, clients, curious travellers and designers with the continent’s crafting excellence. Using geo-localisation, the platform maps craftsmanship across the continent. Discover over 700 talented artisans across all corners of Europe, from glass blowers to mask makers, paper sculptors to silversmiths. Newly selected artisans appear weekly, with the aim of presenting over 1,000 masters and rising talents by 2021. The signature project was created in collaboration with members of the Michelangelo Foundation’s international network or designated ambassadors – renowned individuals within the craft, creativity and design world. or download the app on the Apple Store or Google Play Store.

The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship believes in a future which values master craftsmanship and places the human hand at the centre of production. Its mission is to celebrate and preserve craftsmanship and strengthen its connection to the world of design. At the heart of all the foundation’s activities are the artisans who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of excellence using long-held traditions, skills and knowledge. Contemporary craftspeople are the protagonists of both the foundation’s signature digital platform, Homo Faber Guide and the Foundation’s biennial international exhibition in Venice, Homo Faber Event that welcomed 62,500 visitors to its inaugural edition in 2018. From its headquarters in Geneva, the non-profit institution works with an international network of organizations to promote a new cultural movement.

Alda Bugeja Artisan©Inigo Taylor Alda Bugeja Artisan©Inigo Taylor Elysia Athanatos Artisan©Ileana Athanatos Elysia Athanatos Artisan©Elysia Athanatos Series of Oak furniture Navid Gholipour Artisan©lovenlight design Navid Gholipour Artisans©lovenlight design