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Richemont Chairman Announces New Foundation In Support Of Independent Craftsmanship

The New York Times has reported that Johann Rupert, the chairman and controlling shareholder of luxury goods group, Richemont has launched a new initiative to champion and directly support master craftsmanship across Europe.

The Michelangelo Foundation will act as a digital platform and network for young and independent artisans to facilitate apprenticeships and nurture global recognition, with the aim of protecting and bolstering Europe’s culture of applied artistry.

In one of the most honest and grounded interviews we’ve read with a top luxury executive, Mr Rupert describes a widening disconnect and general malaise in today’s industry. “Ultimately, luxury is not something made by a machine in a repetitive fashion,” he says. “It needs a human element – that is what makes it unique and different.”

The Geneva-based non-profit will maintain neutrality and will be supported by Mr Rupert and his co-founder Franco Cologni personally, with no ties to Richemont, or their portfolio businesses. The foundation intends to remove the focus on the brand and return it to the craft itself.

Details of how this support and showcase will manifest remains to be seen. But drawing attention to the artisanship, over the art is a noble idea; and with one of the luxury industry’s top leaders at the helm, it can only be a good thing for the future of independent watchmaking.

Read Elizabeth Paton’s NYTimes article here. For more on the Michelangelo Foundation check here.