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Ambacht in Beeld Festival - Save the date: 23 & 24 september 2023 - NDSM Loods Amsterdam-Noord

Symposium ‘Craftsmanship, innovation, and sustainability’

20 augustus 2019

Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam

Tuesday September 17, 2019

19.30 – 22.00 hrs


Video of the symposium:





Ambacht in Beeld Symposium


Craftsmanship, innovation and sustainability

“The future is handmade”


What is the importance of craftsmanship, of embodied knowledge, in a time where we need to transition to a circular economy?


During this symposium we will sketch the historical context of craft, learning and innovation, and give attention to the value of embodied knowlegde and skill learning. We will frame the economics around crafts worldwide, and highlight the importance of sustainability and the challenges we face. After this several speakers will present their initiatives, from the field of design, textiles, and more.


The aim of this evening is to stress the importance of the knowledge of master craftsmen, of policy to safeguard and foster this, and to inspire policy makers and the general audience with practical solutions to today’s sustainability challenges.


Register here (free)




Wendy van Wilgenburg (initiator of this symposium)


Cultural and visual anthropologist. Filmmaker specialised in documenting crafts. Founder and director of the Ambacht in Beeld Festival in Amsterdam and Craft in Focus Festival in New York. Her mission for the events is to engage a wide audience of all ages with master craftsmanship. Through an interactive and carefully curated program of workshops and master classes, the craftsmen can share their knowlegde, meet new customers and apprentices.


Dr Maikel Kuijpers

Maikel H. G. Kuijpers is assistant professor of European prehistory at Leiden University. He holds a Ph.D. in archaeology from Cambridge University. His work concerns the formulation of knowledge over time, cognitive archaeology, craftsmanship, and skill. His current research explores the relationships between materials, skills, and innovation.



Craftsmanship has considerable emotional force since it is deeply rooted in the past. The mortise-and-tenon joint appears as early as 5000 BCE and is still in use by carpenters today. The durability of such techniques holds a promise. Craft-production offers an alternative to the linear economy. The emphasis on craftspeople as the unsung heroes of a transition to the circular economy will help elevate the status of technical and hands-on careers. This is important as a smooth transition to a circular economy is dependent on attractive and inclusive stories. Craft offers both. And craftsmanship, despite all the promises of AI and robot-technology, will remain an essential component of future societies.


Dr Trevor Marchand (UK)


Trevor H. J. Marchand is Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at SOAS, University of London. For more than 25 years, he has worked alongside craftspeople in the traditional building trades in Northern Nigeria, Yemen, Mali and East London and with a prolific Ugandan-British craftsman-cum-artist. Marchand’s research focuses on apprenticeship and skill learning and on embodied forms of cognition and communication.



Smart Bodies: embodied problem-solving and mathematizing in craftwork

Modern western education has narrowly focussed on conceptual ways of thinking, thereby marginalising the body. The computerisation of classroom learning in the new millennium has arguably exacerbated the divide drawn between mind and body. By contrast, Marchand’s long research with craftspeople reveals that it is with bodies that people learn, express, interpret, improvise and negotiate – in a word, ‘craft’ – their ways of knowing and living in the world. Using ethnographic examples from field studies with masons, carpenters and an artist, Marchand’s talk will explore the pivotal role played by the body in solving problems and mathematizing on site, at the workbench and in the studio.


Dr Anna Mignosa


Anna Mignosa (PhD) is a researcher at the University of Catania (Italy), and lecturer in cultural economics at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication at Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands), and. She holds a PhD from Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Her research interests within cultural economics, concentrates on cultural heritage and cultural policies,the relationship between culture and development and the role the former can play in society, the economics of craft. She has published several books and scientific articles.

Anna is particularly interested in the potential effect of research on society. For this reason, she aims to bring research to life applying it to the world of practice. She is involved in some Italian and international non profit organisations involved in the enhancement of cultural heritage sites, the use of culture to boost development and fight inequalities, the evaluation of the social effect of culture.

She was member of the Board of the Association of Cultural Economics International from 2010 to 2016. Anna is a Canon Foundation fellow for the year 2007, when she spent 4 months in Japan to do research cultural policies.



Craft and craftsmanship have traditionally been identified with objects and capacities related to a specific culture and representing its habits, traditions, folklore. This has often put craft in a somewhat ancillary position with respect to the arts. In Western countries, however, there is a renewed interest towards this sector: international agencies, local institutions, universities, museums, among the others, look at the sector with increasing attention. There is a diffused rhetoric highlighting the role that craft can play for development, but is it really the case? Can craft really thrive or does the sector face difficulties and obstacles?

The presentation intends to highlight the issues identified by the cultural economic analysis of craft aiming at extending the analysis done so far. On the one side they are critical to have a better understanding of the sector. The starting point is the definition of crafts which then affects strategies, measurements and statistics. The comparison of policies for the sector allows to acknowledge the variety of carried out and, possibly, identify and develop best practices. On the other side, the aim is to (try to) identify tools and strategies to boost the sector. As a matter of fact, the more recent changes related to the development of technology and internet, in particular, have allowed the multiplication of ‘new’ ways of organising the sector and the emergence of new business models.


Ir. Godelieve Bun – director Leidse Instrumentmakers School


Godelieve Bun is the Director of the Leidse Instrument Maker School (LiS). Bun studied Industrial Design and Mechanical Engineering in Delft. During her career, Bun was an innovation and research manager for several companies in the food industry. She also worked as a college teacher and, among other things, developed the minor program for Sustainable Innovation at Hogeschool Utrecht.


The Leiden Instrument Maker School (LiS) was founded in the 19th century by Prof. dr. Dr. Kamerlingh Onnes, because he needed craftsmen who could build his research set-ups. The LiS still trains precision technology professionals who develop research equipment for scientific institutes, universities, hospitals and companies with their own research departments. These organizations work on groundbreaking research, which requires specialist and accurate tools. LiSers are thus also involved in research into sustainable solutions and alternative energy sources.


Maaike Roozenburg – designer, head Master industrial design KABK


Studio Maaike Roozenburg


After graduating from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 2004 as a product designer Maaike Roozenburg (Delft, 1979) founded Studio Maaike Roozenburg in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Within this design studio the team develops products and projects at the cutting edge of design, (art) history and heritage. To accomplish this, the

studio works with scientists, museums, archaeologists, students, crafsman, graphic designers and animators. She is also a lecturer and head of the Master Industrial Design at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and a visiting tutor at Delft University of Technology.


Maaike Roozenburg aims to develop new ways to combine traditional crafts and history with recently developed (prototyping) techniques. Using ceramics as her main material, Roozenburg merges tradition and high tech, the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’, historical utensils and modern design. Merging the past, the present and the future, enriching each other in meaningful design products.



Master Industrial Design Royal Academy of Art The Hague


At the MID we believe that the field of industrial design encloses the possibility to shape the world of tomorrow.


Industry, this manmade vast and complex system of consumer wishes, product design and engineering, assembly lines, human and material resources, transportation, business models, advertising campaigns and waist. A system that we designed, expanded and intensified after spinning looms where placed together in the first cotton mill in Britain kicking off the industrial revolution. By now this industry is more and more causing problems instead of solving them, more and more draining the planet of its resources and choking it with products and pollution instead of truly contributing to the well being of its inhabitants.


The general approach towards this industrial system is mainly economic, excluding essential aspects such as well being, equality, cultural richness and ecological impact. We believe that by questioning and redesigning the conventions in the industrial system, industrial designers can contribute to a more sustainable, meaningful and culturally diverse world.


Annemieke Koster – founder Enschede Textielstad


Annemieke Koster (1989) is the owner and founder of Enschede Textielstad. In 2013 she started the mill without any prior knowledge or experience in the textile industry. Following the disaster at the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh she thought it was necessary to improve not only the working conditions in the final stages of the supply chain, but reinvent the system as a whole, starting with the production of sustainable cloth. Annemieke studied Communication Science at Twente University and worked in the advertising business for a while before she quit her job to start a sustainable weaving mill in former textile city Enschede. The mill started with the purchase of two shuttle looms from a weaver in Austria. At the moment Enschede Textielstad is housed within the last remaining weaving mill in Enschede where we has access to 38 industrial rapier looms and 2 recently acquired circular knitting machines. Enschede Textielstad is the first weaving mill in Europe that solely produces sustainable cloth. The cloth is suitable for both fashion and upholstery and is woven on-demand for fashion designers, interior brands and architects.


Frank Hemeltjen – Kenniscentrum Immaterieel Erfgoed Nederland / AmbachtenLab


The Dutch Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage implements the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Netherlands.

The Centre has noted that the current generation of craftspeople need assistance when it comes to securing the future of their craft and tying it into a modern context. To help the craftspeople in safeguarding their form of intangible cultural heritage, the Centre has developed a method, we call it the CraftsLab.

A CraftLab is a partnership between craftspeople and various training institutes, artists and designers, allowing them to work together for a period of 8-12 weeks, on innovations that will give crafts a sustainable future. A CraftLab aims to ensure that traditional a craft remains relevant and attractive to new practitioners in the future. It is therefore important that they tie in with developments of the current ‘market’ and are innovative in one way or another.


The CraftsLab is therefore also a method for supporting craftspeople in safeguarding their specific form of Intangible Cultural Heritage, in the spirit of the Convention.


Moderator: Joni Zwart


Olivier Rijcken will make a large illustration of the evening.




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