Weaving the fabric of dreams

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Bottega Veneta became an icon of luxury, not with logos or celebrity publicity stunts, but by their innovative designs, noted above all else for their timelessness and elegance. Now Bottega Veneta seeks to weave a very different kind of magic, that of supporting the next generation of talent. Their initiative is threefold, with the aim of encouraging education, teaching specialised skills and providing a platform in both music and craftsmanship.

In a bid to foster the talent of a new wave of emerging musicians, Bottega Veneta has partnered with China’s premier composer and conductor, Tan Dun. The centrepiece of the collaboration, a showcase of Dun’s musical extravaganza “Martial Arts Trilogy”, was staged at Shanghai’s World Expo 2010 concert hall and performed by the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, along with China’s Youth Symphony Orchestra. The event included emerging soloists from around the globe and allowed many young musicians their first glimpse of performing on an international stage. “It is a pleasure and also a responsibility, I believe,” explains Bottega Veneta’s creative director Tomas Maier, “to help young designers and artists share their work with the widest possible audience. There is such incredible energy and focus in Shanghai. It seems as if anything is possible there. Few places on earth have such a combination of history and dynamism.”

Maier’s collaborator, Tan Dun, a recipient some of the world’s most prestigious musical honours including the Grammy Award, the Academy Award for his acclaimed score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the Grawemeyer Award for classical composition and Musical America’s Composer of The Year, has also been honoured by China’s Ministry of Culture with the title of ‘Classical Music Composer of the 20th Century’. “Working with young people to promote creative talent is something I share with Bottega Veneta and something I believe in very strongly,” affirms Dun. “We are both deeply dedicated to helping the next generation of artists, designers, and creators and share a commitment to always strive for the highest quality, to stay faithful to what we believe in, and always to be true to our inner selves.”

Since its founding in 1966 in the Veneto region of Italy, Bottega Veneta has been emblematic of a new standard of luxury, steeped in the traditions of Italy’s master leather craftsmen. The company’s famous motto, “When your own initials are enough,” expresses a philosophy of individuality and confidence. Bottega Veneta’s push towards social responsibility has resulted in initiatives such as the establishment of the Scuola Della Pelletteria, a unique school which trains future generations of leather artisans and also aims to preserve the dying craftsmanship of the region.

“Culture and art are the foundation of design and artisanal craftsmanship,” Maier continues, “for example, Bottega Veneta would not exist without the cultural and artistic traditions of the Veneto.” Maier also seeks to spread the message of responsibility on a global scale. In tandem with the Shanghai event, the proceeds from the sale of a specially customised handbag will be donated to charities: the Spring Bud Project, a pioneering charity assisting underprivileged girls in China through education, medical care, and training; and the China Children & Teenagers’ Fund (CCTF) which fosters and educates Chinese children and young adults in impoverished regions. Maier explains his dedication thus, “We are very aware of the interconnectedness of the world we live and work in. We recognise that we have a responsibility to the larger community.”

And what can we do on an individual level to contribute more to society? “It’s hard to say what is ‘enough’, but obviously we all need to do more. Bottega Veneta is very proud that we can help the Spring Bud Project. There are, of course, ways for individuals to support people in need. The China Children & Teenagers’ Fund, which sponsors the Spring Bud Project, has a website where you can donate or learn more about helping. What matters most is to get involved.”

by Lauren Weinberg

All images courtesy of Bottega Veneta

Taken from the Glass archive – Issue Three – Promise

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