The Kârvan Journey at Milan Design Week

31 May 2022
ITC News

Inspired by Silk Road caravans, five designers from Central Asia will show their work at the world's most important design event.

This year, for the very first time, the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative will bring both designers from Central Asia and artisans from around the world to Milan Design Week, the world’s most important design event. The Kârvân Journey exhibition will be taking place at the Alcova gallery space in Milan, 5-12 June.

The name is a nod to the caravans that travelled the Silk Road, a fertile ground for exchange of goods, ideas, and culture.

Curated by Cristiano Seganfreddo, it will present a vibrant and contemporary demonstration of culture, life, local material and techniques, with the support of UNESCO and the European Union.

After several terms of the Designer Accelerator with African fashion designers, Ethical Fashion Initiative expanded the programme in 2021 to work with homeware designers based in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

The Accelerator's mission is to bring to the world stage new design talent and the work of master craftspeople and artisans. The selected designers received assistance in a variety of areas, including production and creative direction, market access, and the development of a sustainable business.

Close up of homeware from Kyrgystan
UYA Nomad from Kyrgyzstan will present their label as part of The Kârvân Journey this Milan Design Week from 5 to 12 June at Alcova.

The journey starts in the context of EFI’s Accelerator programme in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, where five emerging homeware designers have produced collections along with EFI. Designers Tigran Erdman, UYA Nomad, Aiken, Oro and Camel Wool will be presenting for the first time in Europe, marking a new chapter in international design. Such opportunities enable emerging entrepreneurs from developing economies to present their work in a global platform helping attract potential customers, boost business and strengthen their communities.

Showing alongside the Central Asian Accelerator designers will be a group of artisans from around the world, many whose ancestors traded along the great Silk Road. Meticulously crafted Uzbek Ikat and delicately embroidered Tajik fabrics demonstrate the rich culture of textile production in the region.

Crossing continents to West Africa, EFI artisans from Burkina Faso and Mali, expertly crafting Faso Dan Fani, Indigo and Bogolan fabrics that reveal their great skill and profound intimacy with natural materials. Positive change in society today has its roots in cultures that span generations. 

Weaver working camel hair on a loom
The EFI Accelerator supports brands like Camel Wool in Turkmenistan, photographed here, to grow their local supply chains , creating work for artisans and craftspeople.

Guiding EFI on the Kârvân Journey as guests, will be two acclaimed designers: Cheick Diallo from Mali and Sam Baron from France. Both are long-time champions of new design talent. Baron has worked with Central Asian artisans to create a unique piece just for the exhibition and Diallo’s selection of Malian furniture is a prime example of innovative design as a force for good. Both of them will display their works on show during the event at Alcova.

Curated by Cristiano Seganfreddo | Exhibition design by NM3

Hands working on a design in white
Tigran Erdman from Uzbekistan will present his project Seven Planets, at The Kârvân Journey, alongside 4 other designers from Central Asia.

About EFI, the European Union and UNESCO

For the Ethical Fashion Initiative, lifestyle choices impact livelihoods. EFI creates and strengthens social enterprises in emerging economies, connecting discerning international brands in fashion, interiors, fine foods and the arts with talented local artists, designers, artisans, and micro-producers. Savvy investors, pro-poor champions, and mindful consumers find value in a virtuous circle that creates not just premium products, but also stable, dignified work, and creative and resilient women, men and communities.

The EU and UNESCO support EFI’s cultural activities. More than any other product, culture reflects a people’s uniqueness, value and heritage. Strengthening culture sectors builds social capital and reinforces identities, as well as generating trade and business opportunities. EFI showcases creativity and talent in sectors like art, photography, cinema and music, working with the private sector to strengthen culture sectors and increase cultural exports.