Following on the success of the inaugural Design Caribbean 2011 trade show, Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) is now looking to the future and possibly London in 2012.

Design Caribbean 2011 attracted over 130 designers from CARIFORUM states who savoured the chance to exhibit their creative skills and products at the Hotel El Embajador, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from September 1 to 4.

The event connected the exhibitors with buyers, and design enthusiasts from the Caribbean Europe and North America. Mark Fangue and Liz Allen, buyers of Exotic World Gifts summed up the sentiment of other buyers speaking enthusiastically about the trade show. 

“We love the variety, between the necklaces and the tapestries. All were of very good quality.  The silver products were extraordinary. We love being here it is a great event and we look forward to next year.”

Equally pleased was product design consultant Giulio Vinaccia, who was quoted as speaking on the behalf of participating artisans.

“Just imagine that only in the first four hours of opening we sold more than 50 per cent of the product!” Mr. Vinaccia said noting that this was a clear indication that success was possible with the right approach, layout and new thinking in design.

Ms. Ichia Tiyi of Tiyi By Design was declared the top designer by a panel of judges comprising Cindy Bowden, President of the World Craft Council of North America; Milo D. Pickney of Yellow Lama; and Jenny Polanco, Dominican Fashion Designer Founder and Director of Wedge Curatorial Projects. Tiyi By Design is an exclusive Caribbean brand from Barbados that produces hand crafted art jewelry.

Second prize went to Atelier Doré , who produces modern Surinamese-designed jewelry hand crafted from silver. New Caribbean Design, a group representing artisans involved in weave design and community development were awarded the prize for the Best Collection. Mrs. Kirie Ishmael was named Best Young Designer winning with a scarlet ibis inspired jewelry collection. Winners received cash prizes, booths at the Design Caribbean 2012, and marketing support to improve their business over the next year.

Executive Director of Caribbean Export, Pamela Coke-Hamilton congratulated the winners, the organizing team, exhibitors and the buyers.

“Craft and creative industries are to be truly celebrated. It is a way to share expression not only in creation but also in visual enjoyment. The artisans who are committed to the quality and sustainability of our culture have adapted these traditions to appeal to the contemporary international marketplace.  It is truly a celebration of the beautiful in craft, culture, music and people,” she concluded.

Design Caribbean 2011 also included a boot camp for businesses. Subjects covered included e-marketing which was conducted by Joseph Mohay, Oline Sale Manager of Global Directories; using intellectual property (IP) effectively which was presented by International IP Expert Kayanne Anderson; and creating opportunities and strengthening brands which was led by successful designer  Marlene B.

Product designer and lecturer, Lesley-Ann Noel held a session which focused on creating a social media strategy as a designer or an artisan; Kiran Akal, an accomplished creative thinker and consultant who has been an ideas generator for well-known companies such as Walt Disney conducted a session on the potential of the Caribbean brand. Executive Director of Caribbean Export completed the boot camp by telling participants everything they wanted to know about Caribbean Export but was afraid to ask.

The inaugural event, which was funded by the International Trade Centre and the European Union, not only highlighted CARIFORUM handcraft but showcased other aspects of creativity.

The entertainment industry received much exposure.  Part of the offerings was a small film festival of Caribbean films including Ghett’A Life, a Jamaican production that won the Best Pitch Award at the Cannes Film Festival. A music concert featuring of artists from the region including Alison Hinds, Roldan, Xiomara Fortuna, Onika Best, Belo, Carrot Jarrett and L’Acadco was also held.