Patti Carpenter is principal of carpenter+company an award winning global design firm with U.S. presidential recognition for innovative “artisan+enterprise” development. Patti is a Micro-Enterprise specialist, a product and design developer, a trend consultant with Pantone and the Global Trend Ambassador for Maison et Objet, America and Paris.
By Jody Turner
I am thrilled to interview you Patti, as we met quite a while ago through our fantastic writer and strategist friend Elizabeth Adams. I am moved by your innovative work with artisans in Africa and global insights in trend and color.
What does it mean to you, to be a Global Trend Ambassador for the famed French design event Maison et Objet?
I am honored to hold the title, I always loved and admired Maison. There is no other event like it. My role as an ambassador is to tell their story out in the world, share their inner vision and visceral impact on the creative industries they serve — home, fashion, craft, smart tech… It is an exciting and broad range!
I encourage anyone in the creative fields to attend Maison et Objet in Paris. Last year, along with associate Gaston Isoldi, the director for Maison America, we put together the experience and engagement around consumer-led design. Kelli Ellis (HGTV) designer and artist came for the first time to be on this panel… it was wonderful and illuminating.
What an influential role! Can you share a bit about your interesting artisanal micro-enterprise work and what that entails? You were just in South Africa?
I have two sides to my own business. Consulting as a trend influence expert is one. My consultancy also includes the unique work I have developed as an international product design specialist. I travel to developing countries and work with indigenous artists — primarily women. I review their hand made work and study their capacities. If their work aligns, I foster, support and make the links to larger markets to sell their good. One of the goals is to broaden their capacities and appeal, this would include developing modern designs that integrate their crafts.
What has motivated you to do this work?
For me it is about economic and cultural sustainability.
I was recently working in the KwaNdebele area in South Africa with the Ndebele women. I worked with five different groups of women who exist on $1 a day. These women are known throughout Africa for their color and pattern talents, for their traditional garments and homes.
In extending their work beyond tourist appeal alone, I look at what would happen if we put their exquisite bead work atop baskets or within home décor collections, creating a broader appeal, broader market, and higher living wage.
Why is this particularly important today?
On the cultural side, in part because many indigenous children are giving up long standing traditional crafts in favor of moving into smaller cities nearby making $5 a day. We don’t want to lose these skill sets, this is where the cultural sustainability in our projects comes in and the building of cultural line of product comes into play.
Regarding the Ndebele line, we are on our way, working out costs, pricing, designs and testing response. I have been wearing the artifacts as I travel the world presenting trends and the response is so amazingly strong.
Next I will sell in the designs to museums, shops, and stores…. Bring them in at this higher-end design level with the master craft level they have.
This is my passion as an artist myself, to be represented well and make a living from my work, respecting the craft and talent put into the pieces.
The nonprofit group I work with Africa Craft Trust funded this project.
Are you seeing any impact from your work?
I have been doing a great deal of panel discussion on the world today. We are at a very exciting time for product development with art, craft, and tech. While the world is very anxious on the political side, we CAN find balance through the creative side.
Though creativity, we are doing incredible things for and with the next generations and with this we can find some solace. Innovations are going forward leaps and bounds.
The idea of including the artisans of the world in our conversations is very exciting. I have been doing this work for 22 years, and admittedly it was very difficult at first. At last we are seeing it thrive and this is very rewarding.
For those out there interested in color language and color trends, can you tell us a little about what you have been presenting on of late?
Color is the language I breathe and live in. As a Pantone Ambassador I speak at various trade shows, working with Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute, around their expertise in homes. I layer in what they do and I am the appointed person they send to present it.
Are there colors linked to emotional trends that we should be aware of?
The year 2019 will see a warming trend: warm reds and deep oranges. Meanwhile I also continue to see the range of soft Millennial pastels moving into blush tones.
But purple continues to lead the way. Purple used to be considered for royals only. Now we offer it up to everyone, for everyday. Personally, I think of it as a different kind of royalty, one representing the powers of creativity and how EVERYONE puts their creative stamp on the world. Purple is one color that represents changing perceptions, and allows us to share how unique we each are in the world.
The book Living in the Creative Zone, Transforming the World One Idea at a Time is a collection of interviews with international figures driving innovation and change forward through their day-to-day work. For the next year these interviews will publish on the impactmania platform, the complete e-book will be available in the fall of 2018.