DFSD FOUNDATION BY AOD STARTS A NEW CHAPTER
Sri Lanka’s Design For Sustainable Development Foundation (DFSD) is a non-profit organisation established by the AOD in 2011. In celebrating its 8 year journey, DFSD hosted a “DesignMeetsArtisan” reception on the 3rd of July to announce its next chapter and new initiatives to a group of long standing supporters of the foundation alongside new design and creative enthusiasts.
From modest beginnings, the Foundation now works with over a thousand artisans across Sri Lanka, assisted by over fifty designers from local and international backgrounds, and a growing network of clients and supporters with an interest in quality craft. The result is beautiful range of hand-produced items from across the island that is sold domestically and internationally via Urban Island (where the event was hosted), Fashionmarket.lk and other ethical retailers. DFSD ensures artisans are properly trained and rewarded, middle-men bypassed, and skills passed on to the next generation with a strong focus on sound environmental practices, women’s empowerment and promoting heritage skills.
Victoria Walker, the honorary president of the foundation is a firm believer that design and innovation is an important driver in supporting skilled artisans, promoting beautiful Sri Lankan craft, handmade textiles, nurturing heritage skills and protecting the environment. The foundation was also established on the same beliefs and also with the view that great design, and the process of design thinking, has an important role in nurturing a vibrant, innovative and forward looking country.
The next chapter of DFSD will maintain its focus on artisans with more initiatives to underpin the work of the foundation such as; providing education and training in creating leaders in the artisan community apart from the ongoing technical trainings, new material development using sustainable sources; banana fibre, palm leather, palmyrah fibre and also encouraging greater use of natural and sustainable dye.
Means of supporting the foundation was also announced at the event with special acknowledgment of the corporate sector that has been a bedrock for the work of the foundation. A supporter of the foundation since its launch Mr. Abbas Esufally, the Group Director of Hemas Holdings stated “I have been a supporter and a believer of the foundation, and a believer that design and art and sustainability of local design is important to be commercialized and the team behind the foundation has driven this to a high level which has to be congratulated”
Anoma Wijewardane a renowned contemporary artist has also been a part of the work the foundation has been doing, she stated “It’s been amazing to see how far this work has come to now having a physical store as well. I have been lucky to have been a part of the visits and to see the work that goes behind this, and actually see it progress and have an impact on the people that are making the product and seeing this connection has been very exciting and rewarding”
Going forward new means of supporting the foundation was also announced at the event; through custom made corporate gifts, designed and handmade in Sri Lanka which can even be a part of organization’s CSR initiatives or to partner to support the new initiatives such as material development, better dyeing practices etc.
Two extra ordinary figures in the design community were also acknowledged at the event; Mrs. Chandramani Thenuwara who was recently honored with a llifetime achievement award by the Textile Institute of the UK and Mrs. Shilanthi Abayagunawardane in whose honor a textile and design scholarship was established through the Foundation.