TSARA aims at revitalizing the creative industry of madagascar
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designboom was recently invited to travel to madagascar to gain first-hand perspective into TSARA — a UNDP (united nations development programme) and UNIDO (united nations industrial development organization) funded project aiming to revitalize the malagasy creative industry.

tsara giulio vinnacia madagascar designboom
‘tsiry’ chairs
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organized and run by giulio vinaccia — an italian creative who has been an advisor for a range of international development projects initiated by such global institutions as UNWTO (world tourism organization), UNDP (united nations development agency) and ITC (international trade centre) since 1994 — TSARA’s objective is to engage local craftsman and see them involved in a socially and economically sustainable venture that improves their quality of life; while simultaneously strengthening the image of madagascar on the global stage.

tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
installation view of the TSARA exhibition at the queen’s royal palace of antananarivo
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vinaccia’s intention with TSARA (‘beautiful’ in malagasy) was to realize a collection of hand produced objects that employed the traditional craft techniques of the island, while expressing a quality in design that would be commercially viable on the contemporary market. to set TSARA in motion, he engaged three diverse artisan communities across madagascar: farafangana – located in south-east madagascar and named after the place in which its members live, this area is economically supported by the craft work of the surrounding villages. the production structure there is composed exclusively of women who specialize in weaving natural fibres into bags, hats and mats; atelier dieudonné et violette – positioned just outside of the capital of antananarivo, the self-sustained community specializing in metal consists of more than 350 people who live, work and eat on site, while their children attend school, also within the workshop complex; and 67 ha – inside the poorest neighbourhood in antananarivo where men produce tubular metal frames for chairs and tables, while women weave recycled plastic into table tops, seats and backrests. the community has also been collaborating with the women of farafangana who are making natural fibre upholstery options for the furniture pieces, along with other products. 

tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
‘milanto’ modular seating unit by 67 ha
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observing well-established craft trends in the local market that are lacking a network for a more global distribution, vinaccia worked with malagasy rural artisans to develop the furniture, home decorations and bags with the thought of appealing to hotels and resorts cited in the area of the indian ocean, as well as within the european markets. in order to establish a business model that first and foremost financially improves the lives of the individuals involved, vinaccia and UNIDO asked the craftsman what stipend they would ideally like to receive for their work. based on their consensus, costs for the TSARA products were established. this simple survey and implementation has brought forth competitive pricing for the handcrafted pieces compared to other initiatives with similar intentions, whose long-term strategies focus more on ‘making money’, rather than providing increased quality of hygiene, workplace and living conditions for the individuals involved.

tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
‘prince’ chairs by 67 ha
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300 artisans participated in the initial phase of TSARA, 120 (75 women and 45 men) of which underwent intensive practical training with vinaccia to learn about production techniques. as a conclusion to this first stage, more than 120 prototypes were showcased in a grand exhibition on december 5th, 2014 which brought forth the social and economic efforts of the project to the broader malagasy community. hosted at the queen’s royal palace of antananarivo, the event was attended by the prime minister of madagascar. the show was a culmination of the almost year-long journey and those involved in it, with large images — captured by gabriele balcewicz lemanski — depicting the various crafts people working on TSARA acting as a backdrop to the pieces presented.

tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
‘dresy’ chairs made by atelier dieudonné et violette
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while the physical outcome of the ambitious enterprise was displayed, the unseen benefits of TSARA are significant. more than 43 women have received leadership and financial education from the ministry of craft, culture and heritage; women from the community of farafangana have received eye examinations, with 34 of them being equipped with eyeglasses to enhance their daily activities; while six villages have been given access to tools to upgrade the hygiene conditions in their respective workplaces. an additional asset of the collaboration has seen a contract with air madagascar, who will purchase pieces especially designed by vinaccia and produced by the participating artisans for the business lounge and business class travels of the airline, further benefiting the artisans and circulating their work to a greater market.

tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
alternative view of the exhibition
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though TSARA is not the first programme of its kind, unlike other initiatives, vinnacia’s approach to seeking a specific target market and working towards fulfilling a particular need within the industry, has already seen the project gain great momentum. with many hoteliers and businesses having invested interest and orders for the products immediately after the exhibition, TSARA’s potential to stand as more than just another social design initiative, and actually function as an economically viable enterprise for the malagasy artisans, is great.

tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
the initial products of the TSARA collection

 

tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
opening night of the exhibition
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tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
lorence answermet, UNIDO representative of madagascar with designer giulio vinaccio who piloted the TSARA project
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tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
external view of the queen’s royal palace of antananarivo, the controversial venue of the TSARA exhibition
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tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
atelier dieudonné et violette
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tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
a view into on of the metal working areas at atelier dieudonné et violette
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tsara collection ONUDI madagascar designboom
all metal work is completed by hand
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tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
another workshop space where women are punching out patterns into sheets of metal
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tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
dieudonné shows how the patterns are mapped out and cut
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tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
atelier dieudonné et violette specializes in metal sculpture and moroccan-style lanterns
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tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
a display of handmade metal lanterns
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tsara collection ONUDI madagascar designboom
outside 67 ha within antananarivo’s poorest neighbourhood
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tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
karl, who leads the group at 67 ha proudly stands with one of the chairs the workshop has made for TSARA
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tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
karl’s manifesto of quality and production 
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tsara collection onudi madagascar designboom
karl’s key points to keep in mind in his production: culture, spirit, quality and tradition
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TSARA handicraft & design project development (in french only)
video courtesy of giulio vinaccia