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Common Thread: Anou Residencies

Film by Simon Mills

In September 2014, Anou and the British Council launched the first iteration of its collaboration called Common Thread. The objective of the Common Thread programme was to create an equal exchange of ideas and experiences between artisan leaders from the Anou community and UK-based designers.   Anou is a unique artisan-led e-commerce site, which brings together cooperatives and artisan communities across Morocco to create equal access to the free market.

During the first year of this programme, Moroccan artisans hosted UK designer Sabrina Kraus-Lopez, who led an introductory design workshop with 6 artisan leaders from the Anou community.  The workshop focused on inspiring new design through the artisans’ personal stories and cultural heritage. The ideas and designs produced were used by Sabrina and the artisans to create the Common Thread Collection of rugs, which was displayed at designjunction at the London Design Festival.  Anou’s artisan leaders travelled to London to visit numerous galleries, museums, designer studios and other events as part of the London Design Festival. The experience exposed artisans to the idea that design has value, transforming how the artisans perceive design in their own work. 

In 2015, 3 UK-based residents and 3 Moroccan residents were selected through an open call to work on collaborative projects with Anou artisans across weaving, leather, jewellery, woodwork, ceramics and metalwork. In cross-disciplinary pairs, the residents shared ideas and processes and produced final pieces, which were showcased in an exhibition and publication in Rabat.

Today design has become an integral part of the Anou's work. The artisans have established a designer-in-residence studio and are working on projects to encourage the integration of design into their working process, looking at how it can add value to their communities. 

Anou Residency Program

Anou Residency Program Photo by Anou

Photo by Anou

Starting this August, the British Council's Architecture, Design & Fashion team will sponsor a British designer to live and work with Anou’s artisan leaders. The goal will be to exchange ideas, culture and techniques in their respective crafts in order to spur both the artisans and designers’ ability to create new and innovative designs.

At the conclusion of the month-long residency, the artisan leaders will fly to London for one week. In London, the artisans will work with the designer alongside a UK curator to set up an exhibition to display the work they created together in Morocco at the London Design Festival. At the festival, the artisans will be able to observe cutting edge design all while sharing their experiences as Moroccan artisans and what they learned working directly with expert designers. During the week, the artisan leaders will visit leading designers in their studios and also meet and exchange ideas with students and professors from the top design schools in the United Kingdom.

More about Anou can be read on their blog.

18 October 2015

Travelogue: Rebecca Hoyes, Common Thread Resident

Travelogue: Rebecca Hoyes, Common Thread Resident © Rebecca Hoyes

© Rebecca Hoyes

24 September 2015

Travelogue: Anna Whetstone, Common Thread Resident

Travelogue: Anna Whetstone, Common Thread Resident © Anna Whetstone

© Anna Whetstone

2 August 2015

Common Thread Residents 2015

Common Thread Residents 2015 © Bouchra Boudoua

© Bouchra Boudoua

7 September 2014

The Anou Residencies

The Anou Residencies © Simon Mills

© Simon Mills

2 July 2014

Anou Residency Program

Anou Residency Program © Anou

© Anou