Sartoria Migrante is a collective project conceived by the cultural association Connecting Cultures in which Italian designers and women and men from different countries in possession of artisanal and sartorial skills collaborate to create sustainable design capsule collections.

The goal is to enhance and develop the wealth of knowledge and skills possessed by people who have come to Italy – whose talent often remains unexpressed – to create products of high aesthetic value, and at the same time sustainable, with the use of recycled materials.

The first in the series Sartoria Migrante is the project “Please sit” by designer and artist Denise Bonapace, which has involved the creation of 21 chairs, unique design pieces, repurposed and reinterpreted through the use of fabric and mixed sartorial techniques.

The group was made up of 10 men and women of different ages and from various geographical origins – nine nations spanning Africa and the Middle East – working together in Connecting Cultures’ design laboratory under the artistic guidance of Denise Bonapace.

All the participants in Sartoria Migrante were paid for their work, having the sartorial skills or expertise in embroidery, knitting, crocheting, and weaving techniques that reflect their culture of origin. Through the project Please Sit, these men and women were able both to learn and pass on their knowledge to others, thus embodying a unique and innovative artistic and creative process.

The 21 pieces of exclusive design in the Please Sit collection were exhibited at Connecting Cultures in Via Novi 2 beginning Sunday 7 April during Milan Design Week in an event open to the public and with the goal of selling the pieces to raise funds for future projects. Each piece was signed and equipped with a passport attesting its uniqueness.

Sartoria Migrante was developed through a network of supporters and partners who believe in the value of art, creativity and sustainability to advance social integration and inclusivity, first and foremost Fondazione Cariplo, the principal donor for the project.

Participants were chosen by Connecting Cultures via a call circulated in conjunction with ASSPI Association, Farsi Prossimo Onlus and Fondazione Arca Onlus Foundation, all involved in receiving migrants, and Ismu Foundation, a research center and center for initiatives on multi-ethnic and multicultural society and on migration.

The carpentry work on the disused chairs was carried out by the young artisans of Bottega di Quartiere guided by the mentors from Associazione Terra del Fuoco.

The fabrics, all reclaimed, were donated by Manteco and COM.I.STRA, two historic companies in the Prato district that boast eco-sustainable and cutting-edge production techniques and technologies in recycling and the circular economy. The sewing machines used were made available by CineFacility and Rimoldi 1881. Last but not least, we thank our friends and supporters who enthusiastically answered the open call for old wooden chairs launched on Connecting Cultures’ social media platform.