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UNIDO, EU, Italy and Algeria to boost the country’s copperware sector

VIENNA, APRIL 13 – The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Algerian Permanent Mission in Vienna organized an event today at the Rasumofsky Palace to introduce a new collection developed to boost the sector of copperware in Constantine, Algeria.

The new copperware collection, Marvelous Cirta, was developed within the framework of Creative Mediterranean, a UNIDO project that helps develop creative industries in the Southern Mediterranean. The European Union-Italy-UNIDO project, which is labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean, provides technical assistance to craftsmen in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia to help them develop innovative collections and access new markets.

“We have witnessed great enthusiasm throughout the region for our project, which is at the nexus of industry and creativity,” said economist Gerardo Patacconi from UNIDO’s agri-business department, who attended the event along with the Algerian Ambassador. “The challenge in Algeria is to transform the cultural heritage and creativity into new products, business opportunities and jobs.”

Copperware craftsmen in Constantine came together to create a collection of original decorative items that tell the story of the thousand-year-old city. The items pay tribute to the civilizations that inhabited the city and show the craftsmen’s willingness to preserve their heritage. The project also shows how one can sell copper products in a competitive manner in international markets.

Messaoud Lechehab, one of the craftsmen explains: “I started working with copper when I was 14. Copper has been produced since the Middle Age in Constantine and I learned the craft from my father, who learned it from his own father. We cannot lose this tradition, and on the contrary, we have to modernize our creations to generate jobs for our youth who can learn and develop the sector after us. This is Marvelous Cirta’s spirit: showing that our expertise can survive through contemporary designs.”

The pieces, including trays, bowls and spoons, celebrate Algerian hospitality and were produced combining ancient techniques and innovative designs. They were created in partnership with the design group zerunianandweisz and with students from the fine arts school of Constantine.

Since the launch of the initiative, young designers and workers have shown increased interest in participating in the project and have also continued working in their parents’ workshops. New design spaces were also put it place in partnership with the Constantine Chamber of Craftsmanship and Trade. A plan to open a craftsmanship village offering workshops and providing collaborative work areas and training rooms is currently in progress in collaboration with the city’s authorities.

Find out more about Creative Algeria here. (@OnuItalia)

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