Genesis

“Price is Rice” started from the project “MILANO-JESSORE A/R”, carried out by the Associazione Solidarietà Terzo Mondo Onlus di Sondrio, co-financed by the Fondazione Cariplo (within the framework of the tender, in 2010, for “Creating international partnerships for development – Reducing the rift between North and South of the world”) and with the support of Intesa Sanpaolo.
The first phase was developed in Italy, through a course intended for acquainting some textile design students with deeper geographical and cultural knowledge on the political order, religion economic conditions , history, and the role of women in the Bengali society. The course helped the students to become involved in this different world through lectures, reading, films and documentaries. These were all the elements of knowledge considered indispensable in order to enter into creative and commercial contact with a world that is so different and alien to previous learning experiences. Furthermore, we analysed the structure of Fair Trade in its principles and aims in order to undertake the creative process, as envisaged by the second phase of the workshop, with awareness and in order to tackle communication with the most appropriate and efficacious language. We studied the history of kantha embroidery in Bengali tradition, through its evolution in its various uses and in its specific technical aspects, in the development of ornamental motifs and of the various materials used, with the aim of understanding the productive process and of developing the offer of a product made with contemporary taste which at the same time conserves the artistic value of this handicraft tradition. Various possible opportunities were studied for placing the product on the market, conjecturing the type of consumer to aim at (considering factors such as: price, sales outlet, taste, culture) and the typical and unifying elements for a collection to be achieved together with the Bengali embroiderers. At the end of the theoretical phase, students put their offer into practice and presented it, together with images and technical details. Finally, the collection project was transferred to those responsible for the Base groups, making the information necessary for achieving the project as comprehensible as possible, bearing in mind the cultural, aesthetical and linguistic differences of the Bengali people.
At the same time, the organization of the second phase was started in Bangladesh, which was divided into various actions aimed mainly at the artisans of three cooperatives active in the textile sector, but also at the female representatives of other groups and at the coordinators of the BaSE activity, the consortium that groups these cooperatives together. The investments necessary for adapting the manufacturing structures were carried out first of all: the completion of the Khulna warehouse, the purchase and placing of shelves for correctly stocking primary materials and the finished products, the preparation of the tables for quality control and packing: we then replaced machinery and equipment. Furthermore, we proceeded with the purchase of a stock of raw materials, setting up a rotation fund which will be reintegrated through profits and used for future supplies. From a strictly training point of view, there were two actions to be taken. The first aimed at acquiring a basic level of technical/commercial English language as a common language, to make communication with foreigners possible through the use of precise and efficient terminology in order to allow correct understanding of the requests and subsequent exchange of information. The second action concerned aspects of professional training such as the organization of work, quality control, accounting and stockroom management, by structuring the various activities through IT tools in order to make communication and the planning of future work more fluid and reliable.
The third phase of the project is dedicated to experimenting and practical application of all the skills gradually acquired during the training course: in September 2011, four of the female students, who had shown greater interest during the course, joined the female artisans in Bangladesh in order to create together the collection that had been designed at a distance. This experience of a cultural and human meeting and exchange of skills is recounted in the documentary “Price is Rice”, presented for the first time during the course of the event “So Critical So Fashion”, in September 2012, at Frigoriferi Milanesi and financed by Intesa Sanpaolo.

 
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