Since 1999 the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller has supported and encouraged craftsmanship in France, notably through its Prix Liliane Bettencourt pour l’intelligence de la main (the Liliane Bettencourt Prize ‘for the intelligence of the hand’). Winners represent artisanal excellence, creative collaboration and innovation, among them:
• Ceramicist Claude Aïello and designer Mathieu Lehanneur, whose 2010 work demonstrates the beauty and technical quality that can be achieved when designer and artisan open themselves up to collaboration.
• The Centre International d’Art Verrier (CIAV), which works to safeguard the future of Meisenthal glasswork – traditionally crafted in this French region for centuries – by supporting contemporary glass artisans.
• Steven Leprizé, whose innovative marquetry creation in supple wood shows that the future of craftsmanship must be informed by the know-how of the past.
This September visitors to Homo Faber in Venice will have the chance to view an exhibit presented by the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller which celebrates the work of this French foundation, recognised as serving the public good, to support master craftsmanship in France.
Visitors will discover the history of the Fondation and its prestigious Prix Liliane Bettencourt pour l’intelligence de la main, a label of excellence that annually rewards knowledge, excellence, creativity and innovation in French craftsmanship. To date, 100 laureates have received this Prize, which has evolved over the past two decades to not only recognise master artisans d’art working at the highest level but also to encourage dialogue between designers and fine craftsmen, to champion efforts to innovate and to give support to French craftsmanship for the future.
“Winners have an incredible talent, they have worked so hard that they have acquired absolutely incomparable skills,” says Olivier Brault, director general of the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller. “They have character, they have heart and passion. They are so brilliant and outstanding that they encourage others to follow or imitate them.”
To display the exhibit, Paris-based designer Ramy Fischler has conceived for the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller a remarkable modular structure made out of blocks of raw earth, a natural material and the fundamental basis of manmade creation for centuries. Within this structure the exhibit will comprise three parts:
• The history of the Prize told in a visually innovative manner, with texts engraved on the earth blocks and illuminated with animated projections, plus two videos showcasing the 100 winners and the annual prize giving ceremonies.
• 14 works of prize-winning artisans carefully selected by curator Alain Lardet because they are emblematic of the diversity of French craftsmanship and the evolution of the Prize over the past 20 years.
• The incredible craftsmanship of about 30 laureates revealed up close in 17 virtual reality films. Thanks to the use of 360-degree cameras visitors will be able to step inside artisanal workshops all over France, see prize-winning men and women at work and hear them speak about their personal development and their vision of the future.
Together, the three spaces will present a detailed picture of the richness of French craftsmanship today and an optimistic view of the future. Visitors will discover why working with one’s hands should not be relegated to the past and could be the profession of choice for a whole new generation.
“Today people are rejecting the excessive consumption and standardised production of a throw-away society. The métiers d’art present a welcome alternative, with people rediscovering their ability to enchant and delight. The Fondation Bettencourt Schueller is contributing to this resurgence of interest.” – Alain Lardet, curator
The exhibit of the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller, Pour l’intelligence de la main, is one of 16 exhibition spaces that make up Homo Faber: Crafting a more human future, a major new exhibition celebrating European craftsmanship, organised by the Michelangelo Foundation.
Notes for editors
Crafting a more human future
Fondazione Giorgio Cini, San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
Free entry upon registration at homofaberevent.com
Homo Faber is the first major cultural exhibition dedicated to the very best in European craftsmanship. Organised by the Michelangelo Foundation, it aims to put fine craftsmanship on the global map and increase recognition and visibility for master artisans. The exhibition will bring together a vast range of materials and disciplines, from jewellery to bespoke bicycles, from the rarest artisanal techniques to some of the most iconic examples of the finest European workmanship. Created by a hand-picked team of world-class designers, curators and architects, the exhibition stretches over a number of magnificent spaces throughout the Fondazione Giorgio Cini. homofaberevent.com
The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship is an international, nonprofit institution based in Geneva, Switzerland, which celebrates and preserves master craftsmanship and strengthens its connection to the world of design. Rooted in a tradition of culture and excellence and in the realities and challenges of today’s global economy, the Foundation seeks to support men and women who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of master craftsmanship and to foster a new cultural movement built around the values that are essential for their work. The Foundation focuses on Europe as a starting point for its activities, in recognition that craftsmanship has been a vital part of the economic and cultural fabric of the region for centuries. michelangelofoundation.org
Fondation Bettencourt Schueller
“Taking talent to the top": The Fondation Bettencourt Schueller strives to embody the purpose of a family, guided by an entrepreneurial spirit and awareness of its social role, by revealing talents and helping them go further. It dedicates its time and energy to choosing, supporting and enhancing people who today imagine the world of tomorrow, in three areas that contribute concretely to the common good: the life sciences, the arts and solidarity. True to its philanthropic spirit, it awards prizes and supports projects through donations and precisely personalised support. Ever since its inception in the late 1980s, it has supported some 520 prize-winners and 1,600 projects by various teams, associations, institutions and organisations.
Within the arts, the Liliane Bettencourt Prize pour l’intelligence de la main is a flagship project, it now comprises three categories: Talents d’exception (Exceptional Talents), awarded to an individual master crafts professional who has created a work that demonstrates his perfect command of the techniques and knowledge of a particular métier d’art; Dialogues, created in 2010, which rewards an exceptional work that is a collaboration between an artisan and a creator; and Parcours, created in 2014, given to an individual or a company that has made a major contribution to the métiers d’art. 100 artisans and creative talents have been awarded this Prize to date. They receive not only a financial grant but ongoing support from the Fondation, which works to define the next steps in their development and helps them implement this over a period of two or three years. fondationbs.org
The former director of high-end Italian furniture brand Poltrona Frau, Alain Lardet is a design consultant who works to promote and support design and creativity. He is the co-founder of the Designer’s Days festival in Paris and a founder member of the Bourse Agora pour le design, a grant awarded every two years to a professional designer under 40.