In 2004, just two weeks after finishing graduate school, Rebecca van Bergen began Nest with the idea that supporting craft and small businesses could be an empowering tool for positive social and economic change. Led by a team of committed and creative professionals, the New York-based nonprofit connects a vibrant global community that offers responsive support to artisans around the world. Over time, Nest has increasingly functioned as a much-needed facilitator between luxury companies looking to commission the works of craftspeople by providing clear pathways and programs for craft workers to strengthen their skills and build their business acumen. Their winning partnerships with companies like Eileen Fisher and the sustainable luxury brand Maiyet have resonated within the design community.
More than ten years in, Nest today offers more and more opportunities for all to learn and engage beyond just the creator and company client dynamic. The Nest Co-op event “Art, Craft, and the Crochet Coral Reef” at MAD (the Museum of Art & Design) beckoned the public to connect with the works, the process and the creators’ journeys. In October, the Nest team brought 14 artisans to New York City for a weeklong series that celebrated and shared their work and experiences. The Nest Remote Learning Center is another exciting new development, where artisans can connect and access webinars and resources at any time, including the Nest “living library”. NestNow, available via newsletter, offers readers a chance to hear more of the stories of craft makers from regions such as Peru, Swaziland, and India. The Nest Fellowship scheme invites people to volunteer their time and skills to particular projects.
On the subject of the organization’s global agenda and its New York habitat, van Bergen commented: “Artisan is a word that is frequently thrown around today without great understanding of its meaning and value. We have a keen interest at Nest in redefining what artisan means – what it really means. We know artisan as a vital global community that is innovating upon traditions and crafting a new type of contemporary design that considers consciousness and authenticity as paramount. Here in New York City, we have the joy of seeing cultures collide, collaborate, and inspire one another. We want to encourage more of this fusion around the world, and we see craft as a force that can build the bridges to make it possible.”
While Nest has a real role to play as an advocate for craftspeople and as a connector with global brands, it also makes the knowledge and experience it has gained over the decade available for all interested in equitable and inventive design to view, participate in and utilize.
Images courtesy of Nest