Eswatini Designers and Artisans Stand Out at TheMaison&Objet Exhibition in Paris

By Inside Biz

Designers and artisans from the country say they have learned a lot from the Maison&Objet design trade show which was held in Paris, France.

The Maison&Objet design trade show is a one-of-a-kind multifaceted five-day experience featuring about 2,500 lifestyle brands. It is a buzzing ecosystem of designers, talents, events, talks, and services.

This year’s trade show was held from 19-23 January 2023 and targeted exclusively professionals from the interior and object design sector. 

Local artisans and designers showcased their products at the exhibition in Paris, France, with support from the European Union (EU), the International Trade Centre (ITC), as well as the government of Eswatini.

The ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations. The organization assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transitioning economies to become more competitive in global markets.

The crowd attending was international, with EU-wide attendance and high representation from renowned overseas design destinations like Japan and the US.   

Eswatini artisans were represented by dynamic local enterprises Jerempaul and Yebo Art Gallery. Committed to their local communities of artisans, they also showcased products from two women cooperatives; Indzaba Yami and Siyaphambili, in efforts to raise the profile of Eswatini’s designs on a global stage.

All these enterprises are part of ITC’s Alliances for Action sustainable agribusiness initiative and the recipients of the joint EU-ITC project ‘Eswatini: Promoting growth through competitive alliances,’ which seeks to boost jobs, business and artisan skills in the country and support small enterprises.

It also seeks to promote export-led growth, especially through fully utilizing the Southern African Development Community-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (SADC-EU EPA). 

It was the first time these companies participated in this Parisian trade show. Their stand was in the Unique and Eclectic Pavilion, the designated area for ethnic crafts objects from outside the EU. It stood out with its edgy mix of authentic local crafts, original design, modern elegance, and presentation.     

Jerempaul Director, Khulekani Msweli, said the trade show was a significant learning curve and helped secure a couple of sales leads that they will be pursuing in the near future. 

“Being a part of this has been an amazing opportunity and the feedback on our work incredibly positive. Sharing the meaning, culture, and communities behind our designs with international buyers was important and energizing. We also learned a lot from other experienced exhibitors,” said Msweli. 

The companies were able to evaluate how their products fit into the EU market and assess which products fare better. They also took away valuable lessons on current design trends, pricing patterns, and how other African companies do business in Europe and deal with distributors, shipments, and other logistics. 

Luis Miguel Pascoal, EU Programme Officer for Private Sector Development, Business Climate and Sustainable Inclusive Growth, said it was great to see how the products from Eswatini stood out for their originality and artisan craftsmanship. 

“The Arts & Craft sector is crucial to local job creation and poverty alleviation and its integration into a vast market such as the EU is critical. This sector represents many family businesses, self-employers, and small enterprises, contributing to the employment of many under-represented groups such as youth, women entrepreneurs, and people living with disabilities,” said Pascoal.

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