"Who ARE you?

"Who ARE you? 

When I was a little boy, I watched my Father working.

He was drawing geometric patterns with a wedge of white tailors chalk, on a folded piece of cloth, laid out flat upon his work table.

He then cut these patterns out and sewed them together with a needle and white thread.

Within a short time he produced a wonderful form and when the local baker came for his fitting, I saw true magic happen before my very eyes!

It was obvious that this was the beginning of a jacket.

The form enveloped the baker's body and he looked into a mirror with pride.
Before too long the jacket was completed and taken away on a hand made olive wood hanger. 

It was wrapped very carefully in a sheet of white linen, so that it would not crease. 
Dress making pins were used to secure the linen cover.

Nothing could be more perfect or beautiful than this baker's jacket.
"I want to learn how to do exactly what my Father does " I thought. Make magic like my Father does!

He was paid in olive oil, oranges, chickens and cheese.

I have spent all my life trying to learn how to do it.

For it takes a whole lifetime to learn how to live.

It is when we ask ourselves the question, WHO ARE YOU? that we are surprised.

In some cases the answer begins with a hesitation, a deliberation or a lot of "um and Ahs ".

Some answers are healthy and pure fantasies. Some are lively and "make-believe". 

In some answers we hear the wish. Not the fact.

Sometimes we lie.

And sometimes, we change the facts so cleverly, that we ourselves begin to believe them.

It's when we hold our breath and confess and admit, just like Alice, "well, actually, I don't know!"  Then truth begins to form.

What a relief!

Admitting the 'crime' is almost an immediate absolution.

' I am free now, to go to heaven!'

Our confessor however, is not able and cannot offer a true remedy.
What he must do is ask more questions!

And this is where the fun begins.

WHO ARE YOU?  WHAT ARE YOU?  WHEN ARE YOU?  WHERE ARE YOU? But more important, WHY ARE YOU.???

Let us start with the WHY? Are you?

Have you ascertained why you are carrying out your services and deeds today?
Why do you do, what you do?

To whom are you directing these services or goods, and why?

WHERE?  Is the next?  Are you..

Your geographical position is important. 

Are you providing these services from the right situ?

Is your environment, workshop, studio, manufacturing unit, suitable? 

How can you make it more attractive, welcoming, dynamic.!

So WHEN…are you?

Do you provide the offers and services? Are you affecting and practicing on seasonal timing, or any other rhythm based on the consumer's needs. 

Is your "WHEN" consistent.

Do you exercise continuity and regularity?

Are you known for this?

Is it "WHAT" you really are, that is the next question?

Have you analysed this often!

Do you agree and are you sure of what you are?

Do you know what you are not? 

Are you credible, or are you credulous?

Is that which you are, needed and desirable? 

Can one live without it. Is it irresistible? ...What YOU are..

WHAT are you, really? 

And now, let's go right back to where we started...

All this questioning might provide a portrait of  " WHO YOU ARE" but it does not end here.

We require two major elements to help us carve a path and prove "who we are"
The first is to be "UNIQUE"

The second is to be a  "SPECIALIST ".

We are all born UNIQUE. But is there a need for uniqueness?  And is there space?

When a child first goes to school, it is taught to: see, hear, touch, taste and smell.
These elements of our life are fundamental. It is the pedagogue who should now be taking over.

They instil in us a tool for communication.

But before school, during the first years of the child’s growth, the parent has already prepared the child for learning.

What we are doing during every stage, is offering a frame so that the child can become 'WHO'.

This uniqueness, is unquestionable. It is innate. It belongs to one. It is absolutely and totally a quality of each and every one of us.

Education is the beginning of formalising uniqueness.

Education makes us unique by allowing us to find it, access it, and pursue it.
Education makes us UNIQUE. 

Education guides us to add to, and to refine our uniqueness.

Once we have acquired, used, practiced and mastered all our skills, we progress into a second phase.

All of us do. 

This second stage is known as the " SPECIALIST " 

Watching my "specialist " father work, enabled me to strengthen my desires and to pursue my dreams. 

Many decades later, I am a "specialist "of practice, research, failure and success, but in my own specific field.

I include failure into the 'specialist' category. 

Failure is one of the greatest ingredients in the development and learning stage. We know this, but we must prove it. It proves the learning.
It strengthens the discovery and allows us to develop and sharpen our methods of critique. 
We look at ourselves, our creation, our production, with a greater awareness and judgement. 

I do not pretend that I am the only one in the world who can do what I do.
I am the only one who does it " the way that I do " Because I am UNIQUE and I am a SPECIALIST.
It is the instrument of my life, which I have learned to play in my rhythm and in my tempo.
I have become a " specialist " by observation and by humble need and want.

If I cannot do it, find it, or make it, I will go straight to my MASTER. Who is...
My parent, my mentor, my teacher, my book, my garden, my museum, my friend, my lover, my son, my wife, my sister, my daughters, my cathedral, my....world. 

I went to the MASTER 

I have worked in Education, for over 40 years.

I have worked for Education for over 40 years.

Every day, I discover with great shock, how much I do not know.
Mark Twain remarked, 

" When I was 7, I was surprised how much my Father didn't know. 
By the time I was 15, It astonished me at how much my Father had managed to learn"

Greek, my mother tongue, is a compact language. We have however very precise and succinct words, which offer more than one meaning. 
The same word can sometimes have as many as 5 meanings.
The word is recognised not only by where it appears in the phrase, but also where its intonation is placed.

The word, DIDAXI has two meanings.

" I teach, I learn"

My "specialist and unique" father taught me to be a specialist tailor. He was my 'Didactor'

I was three years old when he placed a needle in my hand, and showed me how to push it through the fabric.

By four, I was sewing discarded scraps of suiting material together, with efficiency. 
At ten, I had joined enough waste material in a considered free spirit way, making a blanket large enough for my bed. 

By 23, when I departed to study at the Royal College of Art, in England, the blanket had grown large enough to cover a dance floor.

It is my diary. Every piece survived the refuse bin and now is the testament of my UNIQUE father.

It is proof of my learning to "master the art with skills."

He spent 2 months teaching me step by step, how to make a perfect buttonhole.
A button, he said, may be made of bone, wood, a shell, a roll of leather, a knot of string. Anything you might find.

If your buttonhole is not strong, sturdy and beautifully made, it won't hold your jacket closed. You will suffer cold and you will not look smart!

" When Love and Skills work together, expect a masterpiece"

After the war, the movement of art and craft in Finland grew at speed.
Yarn was quickly made from paper. Rope from wood. 

"  THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN, ONLY THE THINGS WE HAVE FORGOTTEN "

After the war, the Finns grew as a handcraft society, albeit under very tough conditions. 
They were important and visible and proud in their own land.

The Finns in need, were creative in deed.

Architects like Alvar Aalto, made changes in the Finnish architectural landscape, so powerful that it ricochets across the globe.

Tapio Wirkkala in his Art and Craft movement altered the creative and skill attitudes of the Finnish people so much so within Finland that he became a household name internationally. 

Marimekko became the most known Finn in the Fashion and textile world.

Every Finn, highly skilled and sensitive to the crafts of the land, expanded his domain 
by making what he needed.

Excellence and quality in design were what the world was hailing and accepting.

I was 18 and my very attractive young girl friend, Nancy, asked me to visit with her, the most elegant boutique, in Melbourne, Australia, (we had emigrated to Australia) 
She tried on and bought a Marimekko dress. It was beautiful. Not cheap. I was very proud!

Before anyone internationally heard of these names and their products, they were introduced, known and applauded in Finland.

Excellent design, exquisite use of material, and faultless manufacture were the elements that convinced the international market.

What was being offered was what NO ONE else was offering.

The product was unique. 

They specialised in its making and manufacture. They had the skills.
A well trained, eager, interested, well supervised workforce performed with pride.
Making a unique product that was not seen, nor being mass-produced anywhere else in the world, other than in Finland; gave hold to sacred ground.

It is when the rest of the world is NOT making it, that YOU must make it.
You must be a leader, not a follower.

The issue here is the ACT and ART of 'DOING'.

In Finnish: "TAITO"

Training, constant teaching, always mentoring, vigilant supervision, honest praise and a constant show of "love" and loving care. 

This will enhance UNIQUENESS. This will make a SPECIALIST.
This 'watering' brings forth blossom, and sweet fruit.

Nokia began the 'epidemic' of mobiles in a BIG way. Because they are Specialists
The world was revolutionised. Everyone followed and copied their product. And fast. Faster than they, Nokia were progressing and developing.

Other companies, made it different. Made it better. Made it faster. 
Nokia was thrown off balance. Blackberry went one step further. They made changes and introduced improvements. 

All other mobile companies fell over their own feet to be in the race. 
To keep ahead, research must be constant. Specialist training produces powerful, special skills.

" THERE IS NO DESIGN, WITHOUT SKILL"     Jean Muir

Relentless, un-halting, continuous, deep research, is a must and should be the finest particle of focus in any product development.

Investment for "research" should be provided without hesitation, within any company. Every individual should be encouraged and assisted to continuously research.
Research is the essence of "specialising" The vehicle for every "SPECIALIST".

The Royal College of Art in London has been my seat for 42 years.
This year we are celebrating our 175th year.

It is the world's only postgraduate university of art and design-fine art, applied art, design and communications- offering the degree of MA, MPhil and PhD.
There are some 800 students with an average age of 26, from all over the world. They are taught by 100 academic staff, all of who are distinguished artists, designers and writers who practice and RESEARCH. The number of visiting lecturer/practitioners during the academic year is huge.

The motto of the Royal College of Art is as follows:
" Every day, every where, every one is touched at least once by the Royal College of Art."

If we make a promise like this to the world, we have to be sure of the tools we use to make it come true. 

There are many four-letter words in the English language. Some are rude, vulgar and derogatory.

I have NEVER heard any politician anywhere in the world, utter the word, LOVE...EVER! 
The ONE four letter word more meaningful, more nourishing, more potent, more protective and powerful than LIFE ITSELF, is LOVE

How can we live in a world without LOVE? 

We need it to produce a child!! 

Why do we not include it in everything we are trying to create?
Is it a dirty four-letter word? What seems to be the problem? Or are we a little bit ashamed we might seem 'weak' in "what we are”? 

The second " SPECIALIST" in my life, was my weaver Mother.  She was "UNIQUE"
As she taught me to card and spin the wool, she repeated, " Put your love into it. It will give the cloth its own 'unique' smell.

She, like my Father, could not read or write. But her skills excelled any I have met today.
Both these parents had been apprentices of Masters. They learned through the teachings of their Master.

WHEN LOVE AND SKILLS WORK TOGETHER, EXPECT A MASTERPIECE.

The hardest thing for me to accept is, that we expect newness, innovation and individuality to rise from just anywhere.

We are not practicing direct contact teaching to transmit our learned skills.
Today, we are not practicing the 'apprentice' model. Governments and education institutions dictate other agendas.

Now it is very difficult for us to articulate the "art of doing"...TAITO! 
The constant appraisal of the master can hardly be heard.

We are enveloped by pedagogical knowledge but do not refer or exercise it.
It is rarely visible now.  It was our 'religion'

Yet we expect our creative youth, the future of our world, to excel in everything they do.

The Charter of Incorporation of the Royal College of Art of 28 July 1967 is:

" The objects of the College are to advance learning, knowledge and professional competence, particularly in the field of fine arts, in the principles and practice of art and design in their     relation to industrial and commercial processes and social developments and other subjects relating thereto through 
TEACHING, RESEARCH and COLLABORATION WITH INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE."

The practice of the sacred " apprenticeship" has disappeared.  

The youth learning from the Master has been dropped for a 'package' form of education.

We require a dialogue now between the artist and the artisan. The learner and the industry.

The 'art' of pedagogy' must become our tool for this again.
The mature creator, maker, artist, practitioner must teach the younger ones to grow, mature and develop.

We will then be able with calm and confidence to 'EXPORT' our product.
And that product will be known and recognised for its UNIQUENESS and SPECIALIST qualities.

The product will be desirable and irresistible!! 

The creative, individual, unique, specialist and desirable product, will enter the international world...just as Marimekko did.

It is your product in the market that speaks for itself. 

If it is luxurious, well placed on the price chart, unique, beautifully made and accessible, it is then competitive in the international market.

Make it to last. Do not make it " throw away ".

Use excellent quality materials, handled by sensitive 'specialists'. 

Let us make the things that will take our breath away. Not what others are already providing.
Show your skills and that you have produced the article with great care, love and craftsmanship.
Let it be obvious that this has happened after extensive research and consideration.

But first however, we need to adopt the system of 'apprenticing'.  Without this, we do not have the future 'Specialists' 

I have visited hundreds of trade and product fairs in my time.

What I am searching for, is that which will make me stop in my tracks.
I look for a product that is of the highest standard of make. One that has been designed with intent, and after considerable research.

A use of material that gives me the confidence in one who knows and understands it.
An article that has been made with much belief and conviction. A beautiful product of  'love' 

I am looking for a "religion" that will convince me to believe.

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away"

Quote:
" If he wants to sell a book, he talks of the good words inside and the fine cut of the type;
 he's puzzled when the Venetians become vague and walk away.
To capture a Venetian customer you must tell exotic tales of the hunt for the antelope whose skin is tooled for the cover, 
and talk not of the book itself but of the dreams that will follow from reading it! “ 

Michelle Lovric ' The Floating Book '

I, the consumer, need to make an emotional connection with the product.
With a product that is telling a story, is mysterious, provokes dreams and has become intimate with me.

Intimacy is the art of being close to your loved ones, your partner, the public customer and the consumer.

You have to enter people’s habits, needs, and lives.

You do this with the organ inside your chest.

It is your heart!

" Every now and then, go away.

 Have a little relaxation.

 For when you come back to work, your judgement will be surer.

 Since to remain constantly at work, will cause a loss in your power of judgement.

Go some distance away, because the work appears smaller, and more of it can be taken in at a glance. And a lack of harmony or proportion is more readily seen."
 
Leonardo Da Vinci

“We shall not cease from exploration 
  and the end of all our exploring
  will be to arrive where we started 
  and know the place for the first time. “ 

                                               T.S.Eliot

                                               Prof. Vasilis Kardasis
                                                         April 20 2012

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Ελληνική Ομοσπονδία Γουνας

Konstantinou Furs