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Tbilisi 2nd International Summit of Crafts and Design - Ethnofest 2018 at Expo Georgia in Tbilisi

By Gvantsa Turmanidze
Tuesday, October 2
On October 28, the 2nd International Summit of Crafts & Design Ethnofest – 2018 opened at Expo Georgia in Tbilisi, which is the second international gathering of crafts makers, designers, entrepreneurs, retailers and experts in the South Caucasus region.

Ms. Maka Dvalishvili, director of Georgian Arts and Culture Center(GACC) and the main inspirer as well as organizer of the event made an opening speech with thanks in direction to all the parties involved in the realization of this exhibition/summit, these are: Special Reserve Fund of the President of Georgia; Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia; Tbilisi City Assembly; National Tourism Administration; Enterprise Georgia, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development; The Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands; National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia; Tbilisi State Academy of Art; Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Autonomous Republic of Adjara; The Municipality of the City of Gori; The Municipality of the City of Rustavi.

Ms. Dvalishvili underlined the importance of Ethnofest as a good opportunity for crafts makers to be in direct contact not only with the buyers but also with corporate customers and to support their economic sustainability.

First Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports Mikheil Giorgadze also emphasized the significant role of Ethnofest, which helps to create a very important international cooperation and educational platform for the artisans. Mr. Giorgadze said that the summit will significantly raise the competitiveness and diversity of traditional craft-making and its appearance on the international market.

The summit represented a massive exhibition of handicrafts with more than 100 foreign and Georgian participants and lasted for three days (28-30 October). Local and international producers were given the unique opportunity to build up the brand image of their national crafts, to present market-oriented products to the experts and wider audience, get feedback from local and international buyers, foster international sales, establish new business contacts and find new customers.

The international experts, such as Karen Gibbs, Crafts Expert, Coach of Artisan Businesses (USA); Paloma Suarez, Craft Tourism Specialist (UK); Irene Vermeulen, Craftscurator (The Netherlands); Janine Aalfs, Retail Manager, National Museum of World Cultures (The Netherlands); Andrei Georgescu, Marketing Expert, Mesteshukar ButiQ, SVM GeorgesCo (Romania); Lynda Grose, Designer (USA)have held very interesting trainings and consultations on different themes, such as “Overview of market opportunities for international artisan brands, Micro and Small Business Support Component”; “Craft Tourism in Georgia, sustainability and growth”; “Trends in Handmade Design 2019”; “The Museum and the traditional craft-making: historical experience and modernity”; “How can Museum Shops and Makers collaborate”; “Taking traditionally handcrafted products to the global market”; “The future of handmade world: trends, needs, prospects” and so on.

Training and workshops were also composed by Georgian experts: Irina Koshoridze, Irina Saganelidze, Irina Giorgadze, Zurab Potskhishvili and Tamar Kiknadze. Their presentations were based on themes of traditional craft-making in Georgia and its history – past, present and the perspective of Georgian crafts and design on the wider market.

Ethnofest should be considered as one of the most important Transcaucasian traditional crafts and design business forums with the aim to build up the business platform for craft and design products in South Caucasus, to attract new local and international producers, retail and wholesale buyers, to build up the brand image of national crafts of participant countries both locally and internationally, to turn Tbilisi into a meeting point of international crafts community, to raise the role of crafts in the tourist industry, to create the new cultural attraction for Tbilisi inhabitants and visitors.

On the final day of the Summit, the international jury announced the winner of the best display/stand of Etnofest 2018- Alexander Gotsi, who produces handmade leather belts, wallets, and bags with old Georgian ornaments. Ms.Karen Gibbs (Crafts Expert, Coach of Artisan Businesses from the USA), chair of the jury, explained the reasons of jury’s choice: “Alexander Gotsi’s display is very compelling, his display tells the story of his product, he is showing the video, he has an interesting background that has plenty of colors, that’s engaging to the eye and to the customers, he is in the demonstration area, so he is able to show people the process of hand making and he has his signature to all his products, so being in a demonstration area had an empowering role. The main reasons for choosing Gotsi’s display are: first, his product is very easy and accessible for people to touch and feel, two, it is very beautiful, its well merchandised and has great selection of products and really good quality design and materials, and the third thing is his engagement with the customers, you walk up and there’s someone always standing there, smile on their face, ready to provide any information about their product, which is really encouraging”.