British Council

Crafting Futures is a British Council global programme supporting the development of sustainable craft industries. In Southeast Asia, the programme aims to foster economic empowerment through the development of creative social enterprise and design-led skills for female artisans and designers. The programme will have a specific focus on promoting social innovation, fair and ethical collaborations, and an appreciation of cultural heritage.

Craft practices are increasingly endangered in the face of globalisation and rapid economic development. Female artisans, a majority working in the sector, are particularly vulnerable due to lack of knowledge and skills necessary for sustaining their practices or businesses. The combination of traditional craft and contemporary design will generate a renewed interest in crafts through creative processes, informed research and storytelling. Furthermore, developing business and marketing skills is key to improving viable livelihoods.

In Vietnam, Crafting Futures will achieve its aim by working to connect creative practitioners (designers) and social and creative enterprises with female artisans and craft makers’ communities, to create more inclusive opportunities for sustainable and ethical craft-based production. Activities of the programme will be designed with a strong focus on skills and capacity building across the areas of design, social innovation, and cultural heritage management.

The British Council in Vietnam is delighted to announce the Craft and Design Challenge Prize 2017 – a new initiative within our Crafting Futures programme, aiming to create new and more inclusive opportunities for women in sustainable and ethical craft-based production. 

The aims of this Craft and Design Challenge are two-fold:

  • to promote creative, sustainable and ethical approaches as well as business development in craft and design: The challenge will create opportunities for designers, makers, and entrepreneurs to be trained in design and business management and consider how this can be applied in the context of working with the craft sector.  
  • to strengthen collaboration between designers and artisans: The challenge will create opportunities for designers to work in collaboration with artisans for skills and product development, focusing on communicating cultural identity which will also enhance market access.

We are seeking excellent candidates who will participate in a series of supporting activities and to enter the challenge with innovative design-led projects and plans that promote the mutual benefits and values of contemporary design and traditional crafts, which support the economic empowerment and sustainability of female artisan communities. The outcomes of this Craft and Design Challenge Prize will support our aim to establish positive connections and long term collaboration between designers, social entrepreneurs and communities of artisans and craft-makers in Vietnam.

This Craft and Design Challenge is open to Vietnamese design students (final year under-graduate or post-graduate), young designers and entrepreneurs who either show interest and credibility in craft-based design or already have experience in running projects and/or businesses in craft and design.

A panel of judges who are experts in the field of craft, design and entrepreneurship will select 15 successful candidates who can demonstrate: 

  • strong interest in craft and design, and a wish to create value from working with craft-maker communities through design
  • background in design, making and/or entrepreneurship
  • commitment to participate in all activities and deliver all expected outcomes.

 The 15 successful candidates will be invited to take part in the following activities as preparation for the Craft and Design Challenge:

1. A series of three professional development workshops

The aim of these workshops is to provide participants with practical knowledge and skills in craft, design and business planning, so as to be better prepared to enter the challenge.

The workshops will be designed and delivered by a group of both Vietnam and UK-based experts with backgrounds in design, academia, and social and creative entrepreneurship. Refer here for the workshop outlines and experts' profiles. These workshops are planned to take place during November 2017.

Note that all three workshops will be organised in Hanoi. Candidates from all parts of Vietnam are encouraged to apply, however participants are expected to cover their own costs to take part in the workshops. 

2. Residency programme

The aim of this residency programme is to facilitate the necessary connection and experience between the participants and female craft communities, so that the participants are better prepared to work with craft communities for the challenge. The residencies are planned to take place during November and December 2017.

We will allocate an allowance of VND10,000,000 per person to cover the expenses of the residency. The locations of the residency will be nominated by the British Council partners, who will facilitate the residencies and provide on the ground support and expertise to work in this context. Residency activities will be solely the responsibility of the participants. 

3. Preparation for the Craft and Design Challenge

After the residency, participants will have two months, tentatively January and February, to prepare for a design-led intervention and business plan for the Challenge. Project proposals could include the design of a prototype in collaboration with the artisan communities, new tools and ways of working to maximise economic benefit and sustainability of craft practice or other design-based interventions which might support the livelihoods of female artisans and the sustainability of their craft practice. The participants will be provided an amount of VND10,000,000 each to cover the costs of developing their project and business plan. Participants will receive mentoring and coaching support from a board of experts in the field during this preparation.  All entries should be submitted by the end of February 2017.

A showcase of the craft and design projects/products will be organised for all entries of the challenge. The showcase will be for three weeks, offering an opportunity for participants to present their product designs/prototypes as well as raise funds for their business plans. The showcase is tentatively planned for March or April 2018. The three most successful entries will be selected by the jury panel consisting of experts in the field of craft, design and entrepreneurship. 

Note that the entire showcase will be organised in Hanoi. Participants are expected to cover their own costs to join.

Values of the prizes are: VND60,000,000 for the first prize, VND50,000,000 for the second prize, and VND40,000,000 for the third prize. Prize winners will be expected to use the awarded amount as a seed fund to implement their newly formulated craft and design development projects. The British Council wishes to continue support to the implementation of these projects after the challenge. 

To apply, please send you application package to vnarts@britishcouncil.org.vn by 25 October 2017. Successful candidates will be informed by 31 October 2017. 

Your application package should include: 

  • your CV and a cover letter addressing all qualities and experiences that support your case to join the challenge  
  • project concepts, photos, sketches, samples and objects* or business plans that support your qualities and experiences for joining the challenge.

* For sketches, samples and objects please send originals to the address provided below.

Note that we will not be able to return anything submitted in support of your application.

For more information, contact:

Hong Pham
Arts Manager
British Council in Vietnam
20 Thuy Khue, Hanoi
T +84 1800 1299 ext. 1932