Veronica Colondam champions the field of social entrepreneurship in Indonesia with the establishment of YCAB Foundation in 1999

Veronica Colondam was the youngest ever recipient of the UN-Vienna Civil Society Award, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and received accolades throughout her career including Globe Asia’s Most Powerful Women in Indonesia, Forbes’ one of 10 most inspiring women in Asia and one of Asia’s 48 Philanthropists, and one of UN’s Solution Makers;  through YCAB Foundation she helms a social enterprise that aims to improve welfare through education and innovative financing, running programmes that have reached over 5 million underprivileged youth. She speaks with LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh about creating a sustainable system that scales change.

LUX:  How have your spiritual beliefs informed your leadership values?

Veronica Colondam: I established YCAB Foundation in 1999 when I was 26 years old. Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa Foundation (YCAB) means ‘Loving the Nation’s Children Foundation’) and reflected my love for all Indonesia’s children and my aspiration to nurture intelligent and innovative young minds. As a committed Christian, I believe we are called to be the Salt & Light of this world, to be a Good Samaritan, to love our neighbour and to help all those in need. My leadership values foster a culture that prioritises Integrity, Service, Empathy, Resilience, Vibrancy, and Excellence (iSERVE.)

LUX:  Was there a catalytic ‘aha’ moment, when the scale of social injustice in Indonesia impelled you to set-up YCAB to drive change?

VC: For me it all started with education injustice.  About three years after YCAB was founded, I realized that the school drop-out rate in Indonesia was very high.  Millions of students did not complete their primary education. Further, the ASEAN Free Trade agreement 2010 put Indonesians at a competitive disadvantage as our schools did not offer teaching in tech and English.  In response, we launched our first Rumah Belajar (Rumah = house, Belajar = learning to improve English and tech literacy.  The ‘aha’ moment was when my 12-year-old daughter, Adelle took me as parent chaperone on her school community project and introduced me to the concept of microfinance.  This catalysed our YCAB family intervention model.

YCAB Foundation is the founding and flagship organisation in the YCAB social enterprise group which bases its operations on a mutually reinforcing and financially sustainable social change model

LUX:  What was the thinking behind that?

VC: We implement a family intervention model that empowers both mothers and children – ‘prosperous mothers smart kids’.  We can transform low-income families and lift them sustainably out of poverty. We focus on the mothers because research shows the critical impact of a mother’s prosperity on the household.  Economically-empowered earning mothers are in a better position to support their children’s education, reducing high school drop-out rates and lifting the family unit.

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LUX:  Why is YCAB’s microfinance model sustainable?

VC: This comes down to the integration of financial support with educational advancement.  We deploy capital to fund low-income women entrepreneurs ensuring their children’s education is a precondition for loan access.  This dual focus on immediate financial aid and long-term educational goals fosters a cycle of empowerment.  Additionally, YCAB’s transition into a self-reliant social enterprise, where profits from its ventures are reinvested into its mission, underpins its sustainability. The model’s success is evidenced by its recognition and supervision by the Indonesian Financial Services Authority, highlighting its impactful and sustainable approach to breaking the cycle of poverty and promoting community welfare

YCAB’s change model has one clear mission which is to improve welfare through education and innovative financing. YCAB aims to vitalize underprivileged youths to become self-reliant through economic empowerment and education, bringing them from mere subsistence to sustainable livelihood

LUX:  Twenty five years on, how successful has YCAB been in mobilising resources throughout Asia?

VC: We mobilized more than $120M US to reach over five million low-income young people, together with hundreds of thousands of mothers. This is equivalent to a per capita increase from $2 to the threshold of an aspiring middle class at $8.

LUX:  How did YCAB evolve from a not-for-profit to a social enterprise model?

VC: Honestly, I didn’t know anything about the concept of social enterprise back in 1999!  In fact, the term “social enterprise” only began gaining recognition in Indonesia about 12-15 years ago. I initially founded YCAB with financial sustainability in mind and after the first year, I started-up a company as the first business unit of the foundation.  Over time, we developed several business units to support the foundation’s mission and around 10 years’ later, after my INSEAD program, I realised we were operating under a social enterprise model.

LUX:  Where does microfinance fit within social impact entrepreneurship?

VC: Microfinance operates as a business model and enables the poor to access capital. This embodies the essence of social entrepreneurship, where business and social impact are integrated into the model. We leverage our for-profit businesses to support the mission of YCAB, the foundation, so we operate our education program under the YCAB Foundation structure, and the economic empowerment program for mothers (or MFi) under YCAB Ventures, a company licensed by the Indonesian Securities and Exchange Commission (OJK) since 2015. Under the Ventures structure mandated by OJK, we engage in equity-like investments to support SMEs and have expanded into impact investment. This structure allows us to consolidate all our companies that support YCAB’s mission into a portfolio — from our original business units to new impact investments. The Ventures structure provides us with the flexibility to engage in financing (MFi), investments across all business units and new impact ventures, all while advancing our agenda of empowering families out of generational poverty towards a prosperous future.

YCAB believes in the power of education to improve welfare. To date, YCAB has brought impact five millions underprivileged youths and hundreds of thousands of low income families

LUX:  YCAB’s partners rank among the world’s leading corporates;  what is it about your approach to partnerships over 25 years that secures engagement at this level?

VC: We are commited not only to meet the needs of our beneficiaries but also to align closely with the objectives of our partners, some being the world’s leading corporations. One key aspect of our partnership strategy is our engagement with governments. Sustainable change requires collaboration across sectors, so partnering with governments allows us to leverage their resources, expertise, and influence to optimise our impact. Furthermore, our board members bring their expertise, networks, and insights to the table which enhances the value proposition for our partners, because partnerships are strategic, impactful, and mutually beneficial. Successful partnerships are built on a foundation of trust, collaboration and a shared commitment to driving positive change.

Read more: Zahida Fizza Kabir on why philanthropy needs programmes to achieve systemic change

LUX: Was there any time that you overcame a barrier that, in retrospect, catalysed a systemic solution to a particularly challenging social problem?

VC: The first standout catalytic moment was our shift in focus from preventing youth drug addiction to primary prevention through education and soft skill development, addressing the root causes of youth curiosity toward substance abuse. However, gaining access to schools, the focus of our target audience was a significant challenge. In 2002, in a pivotal moment for YCAB, I and our board member Professor Rofikoh Rockim met the former Minister of Education, Mr. Yahya Muhaimin. He granted us his influential letter of recommendation so we could access schools and campaign with authority. This shows the impact of personal connections, advocacy, and strategic partnerships that sparked transformative change and empowered communities throughout Indonesia.

The second catalytic moment was the covid pandemic. During lockdown, we could only help people who had basic literacy and smartphones to access e-support, including e-donations.  We also used a WhatsApp-based chatbot. This revolutionised the financial literacy of mothers, the clients of our MFi program.  The pandemic also opened the door to financing social goods using capital market products, such as mutual funds. To coincide with YCAB’s 25th Anniversary in August 2024, we will launch financial products that offer financial returns with social impact. This is gamechanging because with philanthropy in Indonesia, there is generally no tax deduction for donations aside from Islamic zakat giving which is regulated by a national zakat collection body. For non-religious non profits like YCAB, giving is not tax deductible so private corporate CSR donations are taken from EBITDA, contrary to public-listed companies.

YCAB is now exploring ways to implement the last link in its change model, that is, to create a sustainable system whereby students who graduate and become entrepreneurs or employed can pay it forward

LUX:  What is impact exactly for a social impact entrepreneur and how can you measure it fully?

VC: At YCAB, we embed impact measurement into all our programs. With our microfinance initiative, for example, we conduct our “welfare survey” with our beneficiaries tracking our impact on their increased earnings, business expansion, and perhaps most significantly, the educational opportunities their children receive as a result of our interventions.

LUX:  Finally, how do governments and financial institutions benefit by partnering with SIEs?

VC: We are not sitting behind our desks, we are out there in the heart of communities, listening, learning, and understanding their real needs. These grassroots connections mean our initiatives are genuine and address issues where they make impact, right where people live and breathe. We are always pushing boundaries, finding fresh ways to tackle age-old problems. When governments and financial institutions join forces with us, they are tapping into that spirit of innovation. When we innovate together, that vision becomes more than just a dream – it becomes our shared reality.

ycabfoundation.org

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SAJIDA Foundation is a value-driven, non-government organisation. It embodies the principle of corporate philanthropy.

From a garage school start-up with 12 children educated for free with two meals a day, fast forward 30 years and SAJIDA’s annual budget is close to US$13 million with a microfinance portfolio of approximately US$300 million and seven independent portfolio companies.  CEO Zahida Fizza Kabir speaks with LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh, about relieving extreme poverty through systemic interventions in climate change resilience, women’s health and livelihood, mental health, and urban poverty.

LUX:  How did SAJIDA come about?

Zahida Kabir: In 1972 my father was MD & Chairman of Pfizer Bangladesh, which in 1991 reincorporated as Renata. Renata is the fourth largest pharma company in Bangladesh. SAJIDA Foundation was the brainchild of my father, who was driven by compassion and a strong sense of duty towards the less fortunate. It started modestly in 1987 as a school for underprivileged children in my parents’ former garage.

In 1993, my father gave 51% of Renata’s shares to SAJIDA as a 25th wedding anniversary gift to my mother. I have been with SAJIDA since the start, shared my father’s vision, and helped it grow to the organisation you see today

LUX:  How did you evolve your leadership role?

ZK: I have always believed in empowering women, particularly mothers; SAJIDA recognizes the pivotal role women play within the family, community, and broader social context. At SAJIDA, we advocate for the holistic empowerment of women within the context of their multifaceted roles and contributions. Bangladesh is still a country with about 32 million people living below the poverty line. Women in particular face significant barriers to recover in health and education. SAJIDA is committed to mitigating the gaps by focusing on women’s and mothers’ welfare.

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The organisation, founded in 1993, aims to empower communities, catalyse entrepreneurship, build equity and establish enterprises for good with an overarching vision of ensuring health, happiness, and dignity for all.

LUX:  What are SAJIDA’s standout impacts?

ZK: Thirty years on, we have representation in 36 districts impacting lives through our Development and Microfinance programmes. Microfinance Programme empowers over 700,000 participants, mostly women, to benefit from our USD 377 million portfolio.

This lifts more than 6 million individuals, or 1.5 million households, annually. At SAJIDA, we see all our work through a gender lens. How is our work benefiting women? Are we investing in the welfare of the mother?

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LUX:  How are women’s rights reflected in SAJIDA’s governance?

ZK: SAJIDA is a family of over 6,000 employees, each contributing to drive meaningful change.We advocate strongly for our female employees at all levels when it comes to implementing safeguarding policies at in their workplace. We also advocate for female leadership at all levels.

Since founding, SAJIDA has been led by a woman. Women encounter disproportionate challenges across various domains, yet their invaluable contributions are often overlooked for short-term gains.  At SAJIDA we understand that empowering women leads to exponential impact.

LUX:  What are the main areas of SAJIDA’s work?

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SAJIDA’s operations in Bangladesh have touched over 6 million individuals through its multi-sectoral development programmes which focus on poverty alleviation, community healthcare and climate change.

ZK:  SAJIDA interventions are under two main umbrellas – healthcare (which includes Renata Ltd) and financial inclusion. Our development programmes blend both within our main themes: climate change, women’s health and livelihood, mental health and urban poverty. Our Climate Change Programme targets vulnerable communities, utilizing a Locally Led Adaptation approach.

Uttaran Programme focuses on women’s health and livelihood development striving to improve Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child, and Adolescent Health outcomes. We recognize the unique multiple challenges faced by the urban extreme poor with our SUDIN programme adopting a holistic approach encompassing economic, health, education, community mobilisation together with our Mental Health Program.  Indeed, we are dedicated to advancing mental health care in Bangladesh and have one of the country’s largest multidisciplinary mental health care teams.

LUX:  How is this work supported at grass roots level?

ZK: We support the health programs in a number of ways. We have a 80-bed hospital equipped with ICU, NICU and dialysis facilities; our Home & Community Care service for the elderly; Inner Circle Private bespoked suite of services for special needs and autistic children; and, most recently, Neuroscience & Psychiatric provides mental health care. My commitment is to prioritize solutions to social challenges over purely profit-driven ventures and we catalyse entrepreneurship to empower communities through our financial inclusion interventions. Our Microfinance Programme fosters economic empowerment. We have also established our Impact Investment Unit to offer investment opportunities to smaller ventures.

LUX:   How do you teach women to value entrepreneurship?

ZK: SAJIDA’s Microfinance Programme prioritises women’s economic empowerment by providing collateral-free loans. Our interventions are also at point of inter-generational wealth transfer, as it is important to guide second-generation women and affluent women to make good decisions and use their resources effectively. To extend our entrepreneurial ecosystem, we collaborate with Orange Corners to launch initiatives to support innovative ideas provided the company has at least one female founder.  We believe using tech is a driver to women’s effective entrepreneurship and innovation. Digitally-literate women entrepreneurs deliver 35% higher ROI compared to their male counterparts.

Read more: Leading MACAN, Indonesia’s first contemporary art museum

LUX:  How is SAJIDA using tech to scale engagement with your programs?

 ZK: Our goal is to be a fully-digitised organization so we have launched several mobile and web Apps to offer a range of functions and services to our beneficiaries, stakeholders and SAJIDA employees. Our Microfin360 FO collection App is a digital credit system that synchs all transaction history in real-time with a web application, allowing Field Officers to view essential daily reports such as due reports, unrealised collection reports, and loan settlements. We are developing a Digital Passbook ‘Agrani: Amar Pashbook’ to give our Microfinance Programme clients access to their financial information, facilitate communication, and offer essential services.

Our Field Force Management Platform (FFMP) is an App which automates outdoor workforces and facilitates easy monitoring of field employees in real-time with its instant notification feature. In 2022, we launched our Monitoring Module to streamline our Monitoring and Evaluation processes through a dashboard for our monitoring officers to access data, analyse, share and report on impacts from their laptops.  We favour a programmatic approach over projects if we are to maximize lasting impact. And for this we need sustainable, long-term funding.

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The foundation enables communities to have agency over their own development, be their own drivers for change and instill a vested interest in their own futures.

LUX:  How can microfinance help communities, for example, to become climate resilient?

ZK: Bangladesh is the seventh most extreme disaster risk-prone country in the world.  To build climate resilience we have to open up access to water and sanitation infrastructures. Microfinance can facilitate tailored loans and microloans for constructing rainwater harvesting systems, ensuring communities have access to clean water during the dry season, significantly improving community health and resilience. Customized financial products, including savings, credit, and insurance, which are tailored to the local context can be instrumental in supporting smallholder farmers in disaster-prone regions. Microfinance can facilitate investments in climate-resilient practices and the adoption of environment-friendly technologies by designing loans to support MSMEs to purchase environment-friendly technologies and agro-machineries. Weather-indexed insurance and bundle insurance for both crop and livestock can act as a shield against unprecedented climate events.

LUX:  Where do you collaborate to scale climate resilience?

ZK:  In areas where SAJIDA microfinance branches are not present, we collaborate with other Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) to reach a wider range of climate-vulnerable communities. By providing first-loss guarantees, or credit guarantees, SAJIDA facilitates the provision of zero-interest loans through partner MFIs. This strategy maximizes the impact of our resources, enabling us to extend the benefits of reduced-interest loans to a broader population, acting through intermediaries.   It is important to take a collaborative approach with public and private agencies to enhance the effectiveness of microfinance interventions. Remote consultancy and weather advisory services can increase the community members’ capacity to implement resilient practices. Matched savings products where the community members can collectively save and receive matching funds from the programme and rotational savings products to facilitate savings and investment in resilient agricultural practices, can further empower these communities. The programme can also support the green skills enterprise within these communities, which are necessary for implementing and maintaining climate-resilient practices

LUX:  What is the role for NGOs? 

The foundation covers four thematic areas: catalysing entrepreneurship, fostering equity, community empowerment and enterprises for good.

ZK:  As Bangladesh’s journey progressed, and the country graduated from an LDC to an LMIC, we, at SAJIDA also evolved our approaches accordingly. We transitioned from a service delivery mindset to a system-strengthening approach. This evolution involves enhancing existing public systems rather than operating separately.  NGOs have a crucial role to play in shaping broader climate financing and sustainable development strategies at the macro level. NGOs also serve as incubators for innovation, testing, and refining models that can be scaled up and replicated across diverse contexts.  However, they should engage with the public administration, private entities, and policy-making bodies from the outset so that real-world needs are aligned with broader development goals.

LUX:  What is the approach to public private partnerships?

ZK:  The start-up and social enterprise ecosystem is at a nascent stage in Bangladesh and many parts of Africa. To support ecosystem development, sector-specific incubation and accelerator programs need to be introduced and the deployment of blended patient capital will be critical. As mentioned, this is why SAJIDA is currently implementing the Orange Corners program, to provide heavy-touch mentorship to budding entrepreneurs to develop effective business models.  SAJIDA also implements smart solutions in the areas of WASH, agriculture, and health to empower and uplift communities. I believe an empowered community will be attractive to the private sector and thus paves a pathway for mobilising additional capital.

LUX:  Philanthropists talk about taking ‘baby steps’, how would you guide a philanthropist starting on their journey?

My father was a caring, compassionate and empathetic man.  From a young age he was deeply troubled by the inequalities in the world around him.  He wanted to solve a very complex problem, that of poverty.  I believe that behind every desire to make a change is a passion to challenge and to stand up for the most neglected in society. We all have to believe that it is our responsibility to make a contribution to the betterment of our society. The size of the contribution does not matter – no amount is too small.  Ask yourself this, what will be my legacy?  What kind of a world do I want to see for the next generation? I urge everyone to take that leap. Take that small step to see what you can do.

www.sajida.org

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Reading time: 9 min
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neera nundy

Neera Nundy is Co-Founder of Dasra India

Dasra, or ‘enlightened giving’ in Sanskrit, was co-founded in 1999 by Neera Nundy and her husband Deval Sanghavi as a venture philanthropy fund in India to invest in early stage non-profit organisations working in SDG areas of gender equality, urban resilience and sanitation. In twenty-five years, Dasra has unlocked over $350 million US for 1500+ non-profits and impacted over 180 million people through its trusted ecosystem, one recent start-up GivingPi being India’s first Family Philanthropy Network.

LUX: You are a recipient of multiple awards from inter alia the Canadian Governor General, Forbes India, Forbes Philanthropy, Vogue India, and you partner with Harvard, Stanford, USAID. How did you embark on this journey as a change-maker?

NEERA NUNDY: In hindsight, while it feels like there was a clear strategy in fact the pathway was more zigzag than linear! Twenty-five years’ ago, when we started, I was very young, an analyst at Morgan Stanley who had just graduated in statistics, followed by business school at Harvard then UBS.

With all this access to privilege, not of wealth but I mean privilege of education and exposure to diverse experiences, I was always asking myself if there was something I could do that would make a difference in the world? Whilst I was born and raised in Canada but I felt a deep connection to India. My mother had founded a school for tribal children in India, I went back myself when I was ten to boarding school, so I had a sense of identity and belonging and I wanted to make a difference there.

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Visit to partner Satya Special School in Muntrampattu, Puducherry advocating for the inclusion of children with special needs in education, employment, and society.

LUX: How did your background in finance influence your approach to unlocking capital for good?

NN: I really started out on this road with my husband. We met at Morgan Stanley as analysts in1999. If you think about financial services, there are so many different kinds of ways to move capital around and, to move philanthropic capital, you also need intermediaries. We are one of India’s few infrastructural bridge builders, helping organizations on the ground working with the most vulnerable, working with communities and growing their impact. We did not have funding at the start, so the real skill we had was helping organisations institutionalise. So from a management side, what the private sector takes for granted, we asked how could we enable organizations to strengthen themselves institutionally so that their impact could grow? Very quickly we realised that all of that costs money and you need flexible money so we decided to use some of our capabilities to raise money from families and corporates. At that time in India the CSR mandate had also emerged so our role evolved to connect philanthropy to organizations doing great work on the ground.

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LUX: How did Dasra evolve from a social impact bridge-builder to a leading non-profit collaborator impacting over 180 million lives?

NN: Over the first decade, it was honestly all about survival. We were a very small team trying to raise money and make ends meet. We started Giving Circles so that there would be some funding. We had families pool money and support non-profit organisations who are the pioneers now in their field like Educate Girls SNEHA, The Audacious Project, Magic Bus, ARMMAN and we had a good feeling that we had in some way contributed to this success. The next decade became about staying relevant, accelerating our impact rather than just raising money. So over the last 25 years, although we have influenced around $350 million USD and motivated our teams, we have always focused on impact. That is why we moved our work from 1-2-1 relationships to more platform-building, growing networks, holding ourselves more accountable on outcomes. That’s really when we launched our first alliance, Girl Alliance, a collaborative fund for adolescent girls, focusing on girls from 10 to 19 years old. Only fifteen years ago, you would meet someone in CSR asking if they wanted to fund adolescent girls and the men around the table would not get why this was important as for them it was over as the girls would soon be married. So it was for us to create a market. Some of what we have done in 25 years is to create markets for different issues, bringing them together, evolving platforms for a real array of organizations trying to support the unlocking of philanthropy but also supporting organizations on the ground. It may feel that Dasra does a bunch of different things but it is because the sector needs it.

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Industree partners’ project, GreenKraft, Tamil Nadu, a virtually 100% women’s collective engaged in creating and selling handicrafts made from recycled banana bark.

LUX: Who is the audience, the target group?

NN: I’ve really tried to emphasize the part of our vision where a billion thrive with dignity and equity, that at the core of all we do must be in service of the most vulnerable, supporting them and investing in creating thriving communities. To do that you need to bring together and invest in NGO leaders, invest into funding and philanthropy and build that trust between the three of us.

So are we in service of the funder or in service of the NGO leader? Neither but we need both of them to be part of being in service of the community. To do that, we make the issues more visible, help them engage, show them the impacts on the ground. Ultimately though you need funding! So you are still in the most immediate sense catering to the needs of different funders and the needs of NGO leaders and bridging them.

In terms of hierarchy, though, I would say first, the community, then the NGOs, and then the funders. We are in a privileged position that we can take a stand with funders and say there is a right and wrong and we can support you in doing a better job by working with you.

LUX: You also work with leaders from the smaller NGOs and minorities, engaging with communities and collaborating bottom-up: how did that come about?

NN: That’s also been a journey for us over the last 25 years. When we started we were much more proximate when we had Giving Circles and were working with NGO leaders. These were all very small organizations then. Educate Girls was only in 50 schools and when we started working with them they became or established and now they are in thousands of villages and impacting around two million girls.

About 10 years ago we started working with various established organizations and the ecosystem grew because everyone was funding the same organizations and spotlighting them. Then we shifted on the back of Covid, with all those challenges within communities experiencing the pandemic, the way proximate leaders risked their lives to support communities and to support India, we felt strongly there was now a new role for us. We decided to go back to the grassroots, to some of the more proximate organizations and to continue to support the next generation of organisations and that is the $50 million USD Rebuild India Fund.

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SEEDS partners training local communities in construction principles and practice to build robust safe homes, schools and infrastructure.

LUX: What do they want, the leaders of the next generation of organisations?

NN: They want to make what was invisible more visible, be engaged and be part of the nation building. India is only going to flourish if we move this group. We are a sort of nexus between what next gen and what they want to contribute to, showing them the effectiveness of listening to communities and working bottom-up to make change.

LUX: How important is an intersectional approach in bringing about successful outcomes?

NN: Around 15 years’ ago when we moved toward a platform-building model, we started our work around adolescent girls and there was real awakening in India with a new focus on outcomes. A girl needs an education, health, and employment and although funding is sectoral that does not mean you deliver ultimately for this girls’ empowerment via these separate lenses.

You need extensive health interventions to make other outcomes sustainable. Our ‘10 to 19’ anchored outcomes for a collaborative fund, so an education funder can come in, a health funder can come in because the kinds of outcomes we had were keeping girls past grade 10, delaying marriage, delaying first pregnancy, increasing their independence and employability. So multiple funders can come in because you are delivering on the outcomes.

We are supporting a particular State, or a number of different organizations and the measurement is providing a view on and links to these outcomes. So there is a role for us as an intermediary, or backbone collaborator, or systems orchestrator that can be enabling, to show where funding might take a certain shape for good, show the need in the community for these girls, and bridge the parties. That has been a lot of what we’ve been working towards and to make change you need that intersectionality.

LUX: Is that intersectional approach also appropriate with climate change and the disproportionate adverse impacts on women and children in the Global South?

NN: Climate is a tough one to get our country to engage with, especially if you move down this path to energy transition. We do not want to compromise economic growth. If you want to buy a washing-machine there are emancipatory benefits for a woman in saving her time from washing clothes. There is a role you need to play to shape the intersectionality. So climate and gender, climate and health, climate and livelihood, being able to link the impact of climate on these sectors. What we call intersectionality will actually unlock greater interest and potential for both funders and organizations to engage.

Read more: Hansjörg Wyss on his pioneering work in conservation

LUX: Is intersectionality offering new opportunities that change the model of family-giving in India?

NN: It has been evolving and I think it’s a newer category at least in India, where promoter-led giving ie business leaders are also family-owned businesses. Corporate giving is aligned with family-giving and this synergy is still evolving. Family philanthropy has deep history in India. Wealthy families have been part of our Independence movement, the cornerstone of our religious structures and organisations, and they have invested back into their communities through education, institutions, and hospitals.

Families, especially those with a family office structure, give to communities based on their personal values and their corporate governance. Rather than advising them to be more strategic, we recommend they continue to with their philanthropy, which some may say is traditional, but also explore with them what has been happening in their chosen field of philanthropy, so can they engage in these intersections for the most vulnerable? Again we are spotlighting needs. We now have 300 families in this Giving Pi giving network, 80 of them Indian families.

LUX: Who are the emerging philanthropy leaders among India’s next gen?

NN: Women really understand the intersectionalities and it is really exciting to see around 70-80% of the family offices are women-led. While they may not have created the wealth, they represent their families and are the decision-makers for where their families will direct and engage their philanthropy. That dynamic is shaping and forming a whole new way of giving. To be honest it is more collaborative.

There is a real appetite to want to build the community. These women want to engage with gender-focused philanthropy, with climate as an emerging issue, arts and cultural philanthropy which has always been there and is growing further, and with mental health. So these are the four themes we are seeing emerge in this community that is giving now around 200 million USD each year to India for India.

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Vanavil (Rainbow) Trust, Tamil Nadu: Revathi Radhakrishnan, managing trustee, in conversation with mothers from Boom Boom Mattikarar and Narikuravar nomadic tribes, about their children’s education.

LUX: How important is trust to collaborative philanthropy?

NN: Trust has always been a cornerstone for anything we do, whether in business or philanthropy, in philanthropy even more so because you may be quite removed from the lived experience of what’s happening in these communities, or not know what it takes to make this kind of change.

You have to be patient, it takes longer to measure impact, and costs a lot. So there is a lot of complexity. Ultimately, delivering on the impact really rests on our trusting that we are all aligned with the intent of where we’re all trying to get to, the change we want to see, and it is dynamic so it needs flexibility.

All players have to come in with those values and sometimes that is missing in the hustle and the urgency. So coming to the table with that trust and willingness to be flexible on all sides is important.

LUX: Finally, what is the relationship between trust and finance?

NN: Trust and finance are closely linked to the extent that you can structure finance in a way that enables trust. So trust means you do not have expectations of each other or of the work, yet you can structure the finance and the philanthropy with that flexibility. It is not about just giving money.

Trust-based philanthropy has taken on this kind of mania that you can write a cheque without understanding where it was spent but you have to ask how it made the difference. Trust is about clear communications, expectations, measurement and requires financial structures like blended finance, alternative business models and transparency about the areas which need subsidisation.

www.dasra.org

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Reading time: 11 min
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MACAN, in Jakarta, is Indonesia’s global standard contemporary art museum

Fenessa Adikoesoemo and Venus Lau are at the helm of MACAN, Indonesia’s premier contemporary art institution, founded by Fenessa’s father art collector, Haryanto Adikoesoemo. They speak with LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor Samantha Welsh, about their mission to foster cultural engagement across the ten nations of Southeast Asia, to further enhance MACAN’s reputation, and to elevate the perception of Indonesian contemporary art to the rest of the world.

LUX: Fenessa, why was your father’s focus drawn to collecting contemporary art?

Fenessa Adikoesoemo: He started collecting in 1992 after he visited a collector friend’s house in Bali. He saw how art can transform a home and made it feel more alive, so he began exploring the idea of acquiring art for his own house. He started with a lot of impressionist art. Unfortunately, when the financial crisis hit in 1997, he had to sell his beloved art collection.
When he started collecting again in 2001, the prices of impressionist works had gone through the roof. That was when he was introduced to contemporary art, and he fell in love with it. He feels that contemporary art is more in touch with our current times—a reflection of the world we live in today, capturing the essence of modern issues, societal trends, and cultural shifts.
On a more personal level, art has had a profound impact on my father’s life. It has served as a source of inspiration, fostering his own creativity and providing a sense of calm amidst life’s challenges. Engaging with art has taught him to appreciate different perspectives and embrace the beauty of diversity. He strongly believes that by engaging with art in general, including contemporary art, we can better understand and navigate the complexities of our world.

LUX: How is MACAN rolling out art education to extend the country’s cultural ecosystem?

FA: When we established the museum in 2017, we knew that we wanted to share art and make it more accessible to the public. We also knew that we wanted to focus on art education, especially for the younger generation. Our programs are rolled out to leverage the transformative power of art. By engaging with art, we encourage critical thinking and reflection, nurturing a community that values creativity and embraces the richness of cultural diversity.
Museum MACAN’s art education initiatives are designed to cultivate a cultural ecosystem that encourages mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation. Through our programs, we aim to promote dialogue and introspection, creating a space where diverse perspectives are welcomed and celebrated.
With the help of technology, we have reached educators from all over the country, giving them the resources and tools to teach art to their students and ensuring our programs can be easily integrated into the national curriculum. At year end 2023, the museum team was working with 736 schools and 3,162 educators from 23 provinces across Indonesia, and our programs have been accessed by more than 272,000 children and students.

two woman

Fenessa Adikoesoemo is the chairwoman of the museum and Venus Lau is the director.

LUX: Please tell us how this integrates with the Children’s Art Space and why early years’ engagement with the arts is so important?

FA: Museum MACAN’s commitment to promoting dialogue, creativity, and diversity of thought extends to our youngest visitors through tailored programs and interactive experiences. These values are integrated into the Children’s Art Space. We create a nurturing environment where children are encouraged to express themselves freely and think creatively, interacting with art in a different way.
For example, for our upcoming exhibition, CARE by Patricia Piccinini, which will open in May, our education team has come up with ideas for the Children’s Art Space that reflect on Patricia Piccinini’s ideas about care as a natural instinct that transcends species. Incorporating role play and spatial exploration to explore different love languages and acts of kindness, the experience aims to encourage curiosity, kindness, responsibility and acceptance, with an emphasis on kinship and kindness as an important element of care that can be nurtured in every child.
Early exposure to art is essential because it lays the foundation for a lifetime appreciation of creativity and cultural understanding. Art serves as a tool for exploration and self-discovery, empowering children to develop their unique voices and accept different viewpoints and can help them cultivate essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and empathy. By engaging with diverse artistic expressions, children learn to appreciate the beauty of diversity and recognize the value of collaboration and cooperation.

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LUX: What is your wish for MACAN’s legacy for Indonesia?

FA: I hope Museum MACAN can serve as a timeless beacon of cultural enrichment and inspiration, leaving a profound and lasting impact for the next generations, inspiring them to embrace art and help build the country’s cultural vibrancy and identity for years to come. I envision a legacy where the museum becomes an integral part of Indonesian society and plays a pivotal role in shaping the country’s cultural landscape, where it serves as a hub for cultural exchange, innovation, and collaboration, contributing to the country’s artistic development and global recognition.

LUX: Venus, how does MACAN support the national cultural discourse and help to shape Indonesia’s relationship with the rest of the world?

FA: Venus Lau: Several key initiatives are at play. Museum MACAN provides public access to contemporary art, including artists never exhibited in the country. For example, we will open Care, the first major solo exhibition in Indonesia by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini this May. In addition, with a diverse range of exhibition programs by local and international artists, we are building a cultural dialogue between artists, providing perspectives for understanding contemporary art within Indonesia and positioning Indonesian artists within the global art scene.
Museum MACAN also contributes significantly to art education, the institution’s mission. Education is not a one-way track: we deliver art knowledge through the programs, and at the same time, we learn from our audience and collaborators, who share with us their precious points of view that allow us to rethink art’s role in societies outside the box of the art world.
The educational aspect is vital for nurturing talents and encouraging critical thinking. The museum also serves as a space for dialogues and discussions on contemporary art and broader cultural (and social-political) issues. We host talks, workshops, and events that unite artists, curators, scholars, and the public. These dialogues and exchanges of ideas are essential in fostering a deeper understanding of Indonesia’s cultural identity and its relationship with the global art world.

LUX: What is the vision for MACAN’s programming across exhibitions and cultural activations?

VL: We aim to showcase diverse contemporary art practices to reflect the richness of artistic expressions and cultural perspectives. This diversity (perhaps our Indonesian archipaelago of 17,000 islands may be a good metaphor) allows visitors to encounter a huge variety of artworks, from traditional to experimental, and local to global perspectives. The museum presents inclusivity and celebrates the diversity of voices within the art world by presenting such exhibitions. Additionally, cultural activations at Museum MACAN are designed to encourage dialogue and interaction, inviting visitors to engage with art in different ways or even dimensions; for example, along with our exhibition by Patricia Piccinini, we are presenting a multi-sensory project at our Children’s space (all age groups are welcome!) that adds multiple dimensions of sense to the context of the exhibition.

kid looking at art

Exhibition of Agus Suwage “The Theater of Me”

LUX: How are contemporary artists in Southeast Asia exploring issues that concern our future generations?

FL: I think I may speak from my personal experience instead of for all the artists in the region (or any region), as every artistic practice has its own individual epistemological and affective cosmos. From the dialogues I have had with the SE Asian artists, issues including Asian diaspora, archipelagic thinking, spectralities and technologies, ecologies, and non-binary thinking are terms brought up pretty often. There are also a lot of discussions on how globalisation, urbanisation, colonisation, and decolonisation reshape the ideas of modernity and traditions. There are also practices of artists in the region exploring the concepts of non-Western futurism and technology (and its mythologies), which are themes rethinking the ideas of temporality and futures.

Read more: Magnus Renfrew on Singapore’s Art SG Fair

LUX: How will MACAN continue facilitating cross-cultural dialogues through contemporary art across Asia?

VL: Through targeted exhibition and education programs that initiate multi-disciplinary diversities, we encourage collaborations and foster cultural exchange. We are constantly initiating educational programs—organising workshops, talks, and digital programs to engage with our audience, locally and internationally. Through these efforts, we aim to actively contribute to a more form of connectivity and culturally enriched contemporary art landscape across Asia.

kid making a drawing

Agus Suwage is one of Indonesia’s leading artists whose practice emerged in the lead up to the tumultuous social and political changes in Indonesia in the mid-1990s

LUX: Finally, what influence does Indonesia have at the regional level in enhancing the cultural emancipation of the Global South?

VL: Speaking from our museum’s perspective, through our initiatives at Museum MACAN, we embrace archipelagic thinking and engage with diverse interests among the new generations. The museum’s approach reflects Indonesia’s rich cultural diversity, serving as a model for celebrating traditions and fostering creative expression.
We’ve learned the importance of inclusivity and dialogue from the museum’s audience. By showcasing diverse contemporary art and facilitating cross-cultural conversations, the Museum could inspire similar regional initiatives. This approach empowers the Global South to assert its cultural narratives and perspectives on the global stage, contributing to a more equitable and enriched cultural landscape.

www.museummacan.org

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Reading time: 8 min
entrance gates to a hotel

entrance gates to a hotel

In the heart of the countryside of Provence lies Terre Blanche, a luxury resort with two renowned golf courses and an oasis for growth biodiversity. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Darius Sanai speaks with the Vice-President of Supervisory Board, François Vaugoude, on how on how the resort has been a sustainability pioneer since the early 1990’s, educating its guests and making instrumental environment change in the region.

 

LUX: How did Terre Blanche come about?

François Vangoude: Between 1978 and 1980, there was a desire to develop the site on which Terre Blanche now sits. At the time, Golf was more of a pretext for town planning and therefore there weren’t all the provisions. There was no internet, there were no regulations on water, there were no impact studies and raising awareness about ecology was not a priority like it has become today. The site therefore benefited from considerable building rights, and with the construction of the golf course there was more than 90,000 square meters of surface area to be built.

When the authorities later realised that the surveys and impact studies had not been carried out, the project came to a complete halt. Dietmar Hopp, a German business and golf enthusiast, had built a golf course in Germany and proposed creating something that brings sports, nature and development together, rather than creating a city within a city. The authorities gave the go-ahead, and we opened the grounds in June 2000.

Le Chateau Golf course

LUX: Was there a sustainability strategy at the time?

FV: Yes, Immediately, I’ve been passionate about sustainability for years, being someone from the countryside and from the sea. I’m also an architect so urban development has always been a passion of mine as well. From the outset, our philosophy was to think about how we could do something sustainable because our objective was to operate long-term. Since 2000, I’ve been involved in the design of our various projects, as I’ve overseen the whole program since its conception and now its management.

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Our guiding principle on the development of Terre Blanche is that all infrastructures that are useless above ground are buried underground. All the infrastructure needed to manage and distribute water is underground. It maintains the permeability of the soil and it’s better for the quality of the resort as a whole because having a view of a forest or green spaces is much better than having a view of a car park, for example. The car park did cost a little more but at the end of the day, the cars are sheltered, there’s more security, and we don’t have to resurface every ten years using petroleum-based asphalt.

The design of our driving range follows the same principle. The Albatros Golf Performance Center is a semi-underground driving range. As a result, you play out of the summer sun, and you’re sheltered from the rain in winter.

LUX: Is what you do, in terms of your sustainability strategy, important to your clients?

FV: Admittedly, in the years 2000-2010, what we were doing was very good but there wasn’t the heightened sensitivity we have today around climate change and the environment. People are now beginning to understand that biodiversity and climate are about the survival of future generations. Everyone now understands and wants to preserve but the term ‘preservation’ doesn’t work for me.

I think ‘to preserve’ is a negative idea as it just means to protect what exists. I think that today we need to take a much more proactive approach and we need to be contributors to the development of biodiversity. That’s what we do. We now have the participation of our customers.

 

The Infinity Pool at the Terre Blanche resort

I’m not going to say what country these people come from, but there are people who can’t stand to see an ant or mayflies. So, we get our customers involved and we organise events to show them what we do, especially as golf today is all the rage.

Golf is a big consumer of water, but we don’t use drinking water, we use natural water. The natural cycle is respected, which means that since 2000 we have been pumping water from the Saint-Cassien lake, just five kilometres from our property.

We have financed networks and pumping stations so as not to use drinking water. We’ve had a policy from the outset of asking ourselves what Terre Blanche will be like in ten, fifteen, twenty and even thirty years’ time.

LUX: Is it important for you to do a bit of customer education, or is it more something that exists and if customers are interested, they can ask?

FV: It’s something that needs to be understood and accepted. For example, a golfer wants to find his ball on the course. We only mow once a year, at a very specific time, with a cutting height to avoid destroying everything on the ground. The golfer’s first reaction is to say, “Well wait a minute, you’re saving on maintenance and I’m losing more of my balls.” Then we explain to them why we’re doing this. We’re preserving the nesting period of birds on the ground, invertebrates, insects, and honey plants. Then they say, “Ah yes, you’re right” and they accept that we need to implement these kinds of provisions, and they become supporters.

Another example is unfortunately, we have quite a high mortality rate of trees that are not from the region and that have been brought in and can no longer withstand the rising temperatures and lack of water.

So, when the tree dies, we leave them in place and let them rot. The first reactions I received were, “You leave them there because you don’t have time to pick them up.” We then explain that if you leave a log in a given place, six months later you’ll have a profusion of animals. To motivate them too, we’ve set up an application, that’s also managed by the naturalist organisation on site, in which people can take a photo of an unknown plant or insect and upload it onto our application.

The organism is automatically geolocated on the network and it’s passed on to our naturalist society. At the end of the year, we have a census of everything discovered on Terre Blanche and whoever has made the most observations, with the most interesting organisms, wins a prize. This motivates people to take part. It’s not just on golf courses and in the forest, but under a stone near the Terre Blanche resort.

LUX: Is there a focus on art in the hotel too and do you link art and biodiversity?

FV: There is an art collection at the hotel, but it is not something we shout about. It’s known through word of mouth. The collection is for our guests to enjoy. We have a press book about the works of art that are on display, which is available upon request. Guests can follow a route to see the artworks around the property if they want to. As the works are scattered throughout nature, we naturally create this intersection between nature, biodiversity, and art. When I tell people that we have over 300 works of art and they ask where they are, I tell them to open their eyes. That’s what biodiversity is all about as well. It’s about taking an interest.

LUX: Are there any other plans you have for biodiversity?

FV: We have a huge number of developments on the resort. We’re creating an atlas on biodiversity to monitor the species, fauna and flora that exist on Terre Blanche. We did a first census in 2018, and another in 2020 and 2023 to see what changes there have been in relation to all the measures we’ve implemented on Terre Blanche.

I went to see the Mayor of Tourrettes and asked him why we weren’t doing this at a commune level. It makes sense to do it on a much larger scale. The hope is to demonstrate to them that Terre Blanche has become a zoological wildlife park and not just a resort for the wealthy. It’s about showing we are well ahead of the game, and that they too can contribute to the preservation and expansion of biodiversity.

LUX: Do you organise biodiversity events?

FV: Absolutely. We organize events and golf tournaments focusing on biodiversity, with workshops for people to ask questions and help them understand. We’ve put up information panels all over the resort to educate people.

These aren’t the kind of information panels you buy in the shops, but ones we’ve put together explaining how the watering system works, how the lakes work, what’s in front of them etc. It helps to open people’s minds.

We explain why we’ve installed bat shelters and nesting boxes. Instead of watching TV and looking at a tablet, we buy nesting boxes in kit forms for the kids to build their own nesting boxes, like Lego, and they install them themselves afterwards. Once you’ve captured the children’s’ attention, the parents are right behind and they follow.

Find out more: terre-blanche.com

Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort is celebrating its 20th Anniversary, marked with a series of activities and experiences that highlight the resorts commitment to eco-responsibility. The resort is now open for the season. 

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Reading time: 7 min
art that looks like eyes
art that looks like eyes

Iwan Lukminto at the Tumurun Museum in indonesia

Iwan Kurniawan Lukminto is VP of Sri-Tex, one of Indonesia’s original and fastest-growing textile manufacturers, which supplies product to garment factories across the world, manufactures uniforms for 33 nations’ armed forces, workwear for global corporates, and merchandise for a significant number of global fashion multiples. Lukminto speaks with LUX Leaders and Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh, about art philanthropy and national identity in a post-colonial world.

 

LUX: You are a much-awarded textile entrepreneur, what do good governance and philanthropy share in common?

Iwan Kurniawan Lukminto: Well, the basics of any good organization, whether it is focused on society where philanthropy is key or on corporate shareholders where good governance is required, both need to promote accountability, transparency, and adhere to ethical conduct. Both aim to have positive impacts. At the end of the day, the basics are the same; the difference lies in the contexts and settings where they are focused.

LUX: What is it about art philanthropy that appealed, as opposed to other ways of giving back to communities?

IKL: Art has always been my passion. In art philanthropy, we focus on the arts, starting with Indonesia’s art scene, which I feel is still lacking support from both the government and the private sector, despite its good potential and quality. Indonesia, with its unique historical background and multicultural diversity, has much to offer, yet it remains under the radar of the international art scene. Thus, I aim to preserve and promote it, hence the birth of the Tumurun Museum.

Art philanthropy interests me particularly because it is enriched with human experience. It tells stories about the past, the present, and the vision of the future in creative, thought-provoking ways. In art, we catalyze the essence of knowledge, looking beyond science, mathematics, politics, etc., and translating it in the most aesthetic way. For example, consider how Alicia Kwade talks about mass and physics by placing a globe on a plastic chair.

In short, art intrigues and excites me, making me see outside and beyond the box. Thus, I want more people to have the same experiences.

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LUX: What was the founding vision for Tumurun Museum?

IKL: Tumurun aspires to be a flag bearer for Modern and Contemporary Indonesian art while remaining inclusive and receptive to global artists who dialogue, engage, and enrich its core collection.

LUX: How are audiences responding to its outreach programs?

IKL: The city of Solo is one of the art centers in Indonesia, focusing on performance art, while Yogjakarta city (around 100km away) is another art center in Central Java. The absence of an art museum in the region enhances our visibility and perception among our audience.

a man and a woman standing next to each other

Iwan Lukminto founded the Tumurun Museum, Surakarta, in 2018 to house the extensive collection of modern and contemporary art amassed by the Lukminto family.

LUX: What was the art landscape when the so-called East Indies was a colony of the Dutch?

IKL: There are broadly two categories of audiences: the art community and those outside of the community. For those from the community, it is again subdivided into a few groupings: for those who are from the home community, such efforts are very much appreciated as curated narrations are not common in the scene, and any such effort would spark conversations for new findings and alternative perspectives, which is always positive. For those from the outside, outreach programs allow them a chance to come close to art that is not part of their daily life. Their appreciation might not be within the art historical context, but the joy and, more importantly, the curiosity of looking at something new, something beautiful, or even something strange are real.

LUX: How are artists developing new narratives from exotic ‘Utopia’?

IKL: During the 18th to 19th century, these Western artists were amazed by Indonesia’s tropical land and began recording all they saw and experienced with drawings and paintings. Then, Indonesian artists were directly taught by Western artists on how to draw and paint, strictly following the rules of Dutch School teaching with Romanticism style of portraiture or landscapes. This teaching persisted for generations until the 1930s, when the revolutionary era emerged, and artists began to oppose this approach to art-making.

Indonesia is not solely about beautiful landscapes and pretty people; we also face social issues such as poverty, discrimination, and genocide. Therefore, this group of artists shifted to freeform expression and discovered the true “Indonesian” identity in their paintings.

LUX: Is this shaping a new identity for the nation?

IKL: Indonesian modernist artists began to embrace nationalist “characters and elements” in their works, which was a direct critique of the colonial painters who, according to the modernists, were not depicting the real Indonesia. I don’t believe any art movement alone can shape a new identity for a nation. However, art always reflects the spirit of the time. After the WWII, with pro-independence movements rising all over Southeast Asia, the art of that era also reflected a desire for independence, respect for indigenous cultures and art, and the aspiration to be authentic Indonesians. This sentiment is not only evident in visual art but also in literature, music, films, and other forms of expression.

Read more: Hansjörg Wyss on his pioneering work in conservation

LUX: Can this benefit Indonesia’s international relations?

IKL: Yes. For centuries, art has been a tool for international relationships. Art speaks a language so gentle that many willingly listen, yet so powerful that it can incite nations to rebel. Regarding Indonesian art, it initially served as a promotional tool where the Dutch showcased the beautiful landscapes and cultures of Western Indonesia.

If this is referring to Tumurun, then I believe that as a private museum whose core collection aims to showcase a narrative of modern and contemporary Indonesian art within a local/Asian context and aspires to expand the dialogue to a global context, it would always be useful for the purpose of education, dialogue, and exchange. This contributes to a greater understanding and appreciation, which are the foundations of all foreign relations, between countries and, more importantly, between cultures.

LUX: What do you hope your legacy will be?

IKL: Tumurun originates from the Javanese phrase ‘turun temurun,’ which literally translates as “passing on from generation to generation,” standing at the heart of the founding principle of the museum. Committed to education, Tumurun collects, preserves, and interprets modern and contemporary art, and explores ideas across cultures and regions through curatorial and outreach initiatives. We hope that by standing proudly with our vision and mission, the collection could inspire more generations to come.

Tumurunmuseum.org

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Reading time: 5 min

Philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss and the Wyss Foundation are committed to accelerating the pace and scale of conservation, supporting innovative academic research, and finding long-term solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss.

Since its establishment in 1998, the Wyss Foundation has led the movement to conserve at-risk ecosystems for future generations to enjoy. Leaders & Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh, speaks with the Wyss Foundation to understand how the Foundation and its partners have helped local and indigenous communities, national governments, land trusts, and non-profit partners permanently protect more than 100M acres of land and more than 3M sq km of ocean, an area larger than the landmass of India. Mr. Wyss and the Foundation also support innovative climate and sustainability research through the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Wyss Academy for Nature at the University of Bern.

Hansjörg Wyss meets with staff from The Nature Conservancy, one of the primary organizations executing on his $1.5 billion pledge to protect the planet

LUX: Could you share the story behind the creation of your organisation and what motivated you to focus on conservation?

Wyss Foundation: When Hansjörg Wyss first came to the United States as a student in 1958, his weekends hiking and climbing in the Rocky Mountains sparked a lifelong love for the open landscapes of the American West. What inspired Mr. Wyss the most was how our National Parks and public lands – unlike many protected areas abroad – are a public good. More than 300 million people visit our National Parks each year, and the Wyss Foundation is committed to ensuring future generations will be able to do the same on public lands around the world.

Ensuring future generations can enjoy the open landscapes of the American West was core to Hansjörg Wyss establishing the Wyss Foundation

LUX: What was behind your decision to scale up support for organisations working to curb global biodiversity loss?

WF: Climate change and biodiversity loss are the defining problems of the coming decades. As the impact of climate change becomes more apparent by the day, we have seen mounting evidence that the loss of biodiversity presents an existential threat to human prosperity and security. A significant majority of the planet’s surface has been severely altered by humans, and without a course correction, one million species are facing the threat of extinction – many within decades. Seeing the urgency of the moment, our founder committed $1 billion USD to launch the Wyss Campaign for Nature, jumpstarting the movement to conserve 30% of the earth’s surface in a natural state by 2030.

LUX: How did the Wyss Campaign for Nature catalyze collaboration?

WF: Getting conservation done requires close collaboration with local communities, Indigenous Peoples, all levels of government, private industry, and philanthropy. After Mr. Wyss pledged $1 billion to the 30×30 target, numerous other private donors, nonprofit organizations, and governments have joined our efforts. In 2021, we were also proud to increase our commitment to 30×30 through the Protecting Our Planet Challenge, partnering with other funders to pledge $5 billion to protect the planet by 2030 – the largest-ever gift for conservation.

LUX: How did this motivate public and governments’ engagement?

WF: Following years of hard-fought negotiations, nations ratified a plan to protect the planet’s biodiversity at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15). The plan calls for wealthier nations to mobilize $30 billion annually to help conserve 30% of the world’s surface by the year 2030. Crucially, the agreement also recognizes and protects the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, enabling sustainable management by the rightful owners of the land. As Mr. Wyss said at the time, ‘This is a historic achievement, which will protect wildlife and wild places and ensure our children, and their children, have every opportunity to live prosperous, healthy, and wondrous lives.’

Working with organizations like Oceana, the Wyss Foundation is investing in rebuilding marine biodiversity and restoring fisheries

LUX: How does Wyss Foundation partner with others to accelerate impacts globally?

WF: Partnering with land trusts, local and indigenous communities, nonprofits, and governments has been central to our efforts to accelerate the pace of conservation. Leveraging the expertise of our grantees like The Nature Conservancy, we’ve been able to establish long-term partnerships and speed up the land conservation process.

The Wyss Foundation provided funding to expand the Aconquija National Park, protecting a critically important mountain chain in north central Argentina

For instance, in Australia’s Eastern Outback, we helped to purchase and permanently protect more than 400,000 acres of megadiverse wildlands. In Belize, we purchased a 236,000-acre plot, in the Selva Maya tropical forest, home to hundreds of animal species and endangered wildlife like jaguars and black howler monkeys. We’ve also invested in innovative conservation financing programs including the Caribbean Blue Bonds Project, working to help Caribbean nations restructure their sovereign debt to finance the conservation of at least 30% of their marine territory.

LUX: What has The Wyss Institute achieved to date?

WF: The Wyss Institute isn’t a traditional research center. Instead, it is focused on creating new technologies and applications to benefit human health and the environment through the formation of startups and corporate partnerships. Over the past 15 years, it has generated more than 4,000 patent flings, more than 130 licensing agreements, and 58 startups.

One particular area of focus is adapting building materials and technologies to mitigate climate change. As global temperatures rise and pose a threat to human health, developing climate-friendly air conditioning is more important than ever. Wyss Institute researchers are working to develop a low-energy, pollutant-free AC system called cSNAP, based on evaporative cooling that uses up to 75% less energy than traditional vapor-compression systems.

LUX: How will your Foundation continue to advocate for science-based resource management and protect people and planet?

WF: We are proud to see the progress toward conserving 30% of the planet’s surface by 2030, but there’s much more to be done. For the first time, nations around the world are committed to a science-based biodiversity goal.

The Wyss Foundation supported an expansion of the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, a crucial habitat for endangered Hawaiian hawksbill turtle. Image courtesy of the National Parks Service

Now, we need to redouble our collaborative efforts and ensure that nations, philanthropists, and local communities are pulling together to execute on our promise.

wyssfoundation.org

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Reading time: 5 min

Alan Lau and Durjoy Rahman. Photomontage by Isabel Phillips

Alan Lau is Vice Chairman of M+ Museum, the era-defining new institution in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon district. Here he speaks with philanthropist and collector Durjoy Rahman about why private individuals need to support artists and art activations, and how Asia is moving to control its own narratives in the cultural world. Moderated by LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh

LUX: Why is private philanthropy and engagement important in bringing art to a broader audience in general and particularly in Asia?

Alan Lau: Private philanthropy and patronage are critical because governments rarely cover arts funding entirely. The percentage contribution from UK public sources is higher than in the US but patrons are needed not just for the money they bring in but for their networks, resources and connections that enable museums to develop.

One particularly interesting phenomenon is China where there are over a thousand private museums established by collectors. Many are located in Beijing, Shanghai and the largest cities, but a lot of them are set-up in corporate headquarters or the collector’s hometown, bringing art to a community that may not have had access to art before.

ALAN LAU AND HIS FRIEND IN SUITS ON BLACK AND WHITE BACKGROUND

Alan Lau within the exhibition, ‘Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now’

Durjoy Rahman: Conventionally art philanthropy was the preserve of a small proportion of society. Patronage was offered by this tiny minority for centuries until now, in the 21st century. This is a new era for patronage. For our foundation, patronage involves strategic social investment into creativity and innovation for the wider public benefit. It takes account of our collective history, original cultures, and future directions and fosters the development of a more equitable, sustainable society.

two boys standing next to each other holding bows and arrows

‘Archers’ (2021), by Matthew Krishanu, from the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation Collection

I am a business owner but I still felt that the economic landscape of GDP and foreign investment are not the only way to measure the development of a society. Art and culture help define who we are and where we came from, give rein to our imagination and support social justice.

LUX: Why is that particularly important in Asia?

AL: The benefit of not having a long history of arts philanthropy is that people experiment with different models. When wealth creation happens in this part of the world, it comes with the tradition of giving back and that is where the phenomenon of museums founded locally back in the hometown came from. The idea has propagated only over the past decade really.

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LUX: How has patronage and philanthropic support for institutions changed? And how should it change?

AL: It has always been the private patrons who have funded programs and supported curatorial roles, put their names on buildings and so on. There has been innovation in the institutional space about 20 years ago, starting from TATE Modern setting-up International patron groups in North America, Asia, MENA and growing to over ten committees. The Guggenheim and Pompidou have something similar. These patron groups bring people from different regions to support programming, curatorial research and exhibitions. So these are not municipal museums but institutions that serve a global audience and have a global perspective. The global patrons help attract resources into specific acquisitions and research. This is relatively new for museums. With corporate sponsorship too there is a lot of change.

DR: With patronage, we need also to open a conversation about overcoming cultural barriers. South Asia has a long history of art and culture but also long history of being colonised. So our arts and cultural heritage have not been projected properly. When global art movements started, the major arts and cultural institutions were set up in Europe. This meant that our legacy was not represented or discussed. The arts’ press, academics, art writers, also all were European, so there was no discussion or projection of our art heritage. We were left behind.

So with art philanthropy, what has changed over the past decade, has been led by major biennial art fairs and significant curatorial institutions, particularly in China, in Hong Kong like M+, India, Dubai and Saudi Arabia where I was recently in AlUla and Riyadh. We are all reassessing our lost identity, which was always there but not at the forefront simply because we did not own our story or have the press and art critics onside. You can have magnificent works but it is not enough if no one shares it with the wider audience.

A ship

‘Fishermen at rest’ (2012), by Rafiqun Nabi, from the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation Collection

LUX: How does Asia overcome cultural barriers to art in terms of its creation and appreciation, as it’s still not considered a ‘real job’ in many quarters?

AL: There is a deep history of art in Asia but it is interesting you ask why art is not considered a real job here. Once you say ‘job’ that says there is a market and assumes a market for local art. That is a very interesting topic for Asian artists right now and comes down to cultural confidence. We see that in Korea where Koreans collectors like to buy Korean art. Hong Kong collectors have begun to collect Hong Kong artists in the last couple of years, and the Japanese are famous for not collecting Japanese art. The Chinese collected a lot of Chinese art around the Olympics and now they’re back to collecting western art.

It really comes down to cultural confidence, to what they think is good, so it is very easy to gravitate toward the Anglo-Saxon and Western art world. It’s difficult, but it’s the gold standard for whatever is best at the time, from Picasso or most recently to George Condo or Jeff Koons. Locals need to learn to develop that cultural confidence to buy local and to support local art for culture to flourish.

Colourful figures standing around a table

From the M+ exhibition, ‘Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now’

DR: When we talk about art markets, I agree with what you say, Alan. In South Korea, the Koreans are buying the Korean artists who are represented by the western galleries. So the locals are going to the western galleries originally from US and Europe, who are exhibiting at fairs in Korea, effectively buying their local artists via those western intermediaries.

In Bangladesh, as an example, we are a population of 180 million. If the 1% or .5% started buying art, there would be no supply in the market! So why is .5% of an entire nation not interested in buying art? It is because creative people, not only the artists but curators, gallerists, collectors are not creating the momentum to promote investment in art. And there is a problem with status and perception. In Bangladesh there is an appetite and a market for luxury brands but not for art. The wider audience does not aspire to buy local art.

In the western world, particularly where I have seen in France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Canada where I lived for a long time, creatives are supported with subsidised housing or studio space so they can afford to produce art. That just doesn’t exist in a country in like Bangladesh. Artists graduate from an important school but change their profession for a better life.

I was preparing a lecture for my HK session for Sotheby’s Institute and commented that In Bangladesh we buy a lot of western art. Why are we buying so much western art and supporting western artists? Forget about aspiration, many of those artists are time-tested investments and our local artists are not. George Condo or Ai Wei Wei will be keeping value for decades. I want to and do support local artists but it’s a bigger picture.

LUX: How does Asia become a leader in art rather than participating in the so-called western gaze?

AL: No one will tell your story, you have to tell it yourself! While I love the Met or Tate or Guggenheim’s China show or Korea show, that is a fantastic spotlight but it is you who understands your story. One of the inaugurating shows of M+ was with Kusama and I think it was us telling that story from here in Asia that gave it a very different texture.

THE OUTSIDE OF A MUSEUM WITH A MODERN LOOK AND A GREYSIH SKY

M+ Museum, is Hong Kong’s cultural hub for twentieth and twenty-first century art encompassing visual art, design and architecture, and moving image

M+ was set up to do just that, to be a Museum for Asia. One of the most touching things for me, two years after our opening when we welcomed the first group of visitors, was the overwhelming comment I heard from people saying is ‘Thank you! This is my Museum!’. These are not people from Hong Kong but from South Korea, Japan, Singapore and they see themselves in our collection. This is an Asian museum giving a voice and creating narratives and telling stories from an Asian point of view. We need more institutions to do that. You need to tell your own story.

LUX: What is it about being from Hong Kong and Dhaka that has contributed to your identity and vision for collecting?

AL: My collection is about stories that I feel privileged to talk about. The collecting vision is a reflection of who I am, which is someone born in Hong Kong, living in the city when it was a British colony, witnessing HK’s transition back to China, living through big changes, seeing the economic rise of China and the issues that come with all of that, living through all the tech development, broadband, now video, now AI. I have a strong link with artists from HK and the region and a strong relationship with technology with the context of my day job.

A BLUE PICTURE ON A WALL WITH SOME BOOKS IN FRONT

From Alan Lau’s expansive collection

DR: Dhaka is important in South Asia but for me Hong Kong is the centre of gravity in the so-called Far East because it is a connector to APAC and South Asia. Hong Kong and Bangladesh already had a connection historically and we represent a new “silk route”. We need to create Asian art power by amplifying the patronage of institutions like M+.

LUX: In what ways can innovative artists capture the essence of our time and realities?

AL: Artists are story-tellers, here to tell stories of our time. The best art is time-stamped but timeless. For example, at M+ right now, the most recent M+Sigg collection show is a controversial work by Chinese duo Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. It is set in an old people’s home, created nearly 20 years ago, taking the faces of the world political leaders at that time, and fast-forwarding them to when they are 80 years’ old sitting in automated wheelchairs that go round the hall so you see all these old people roaming around. Twenty years’ on how funny it is our world is still run by grey old men!

DR: That is true and sometimes when we talk about innovation, that does not mean it has to be technological innovation. At the end of the day you are talking about art. We are really talking about mental science and inventive hands that influence because it is about newness and original ideas. Art can’t be boring, or monotonous because we are not forced to look at art. Art has to inspire us and innovation is part of that inspiration process.

A lung of fruit

Organic To Organ – V (2022), by Shimul Saha, from the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation Collection. Crochet weaving, cotton yarn and cotton

LUX: How has your interest in innovation catalysed your collecting journey, Alan?

AL: I am fascinated by artists who are very resourceful storytellers. They always find find the latest technology or way of production to present their ideas in new ways that offer fresh perspectives. This creates all kinds of interesting dynamics in our human relationship with technology. We have futuristic, experimental tech, with artists like Cao Fei from China showing humans’ chaotic relationship with technology, Camille Henrot on the abuse of social networks, dystopic work from Jon Rafman, and then of course Beeple and other digital artists. We have a much more tense relationship with technology and that’s reflected in the artistic output and practices.

LUX: What are you looking forward to at the Venice Biennale?

AL: I’m definitely looking forward to what Hong Kong will present. Trevor Yeung is someone we know very well because we worked with him at ParaSite and we have really seen him grow. Another one that’s going to be in the main Pavilion is Isaac Chong Wai, originally from Hong Kong but representing the diaspora, based in Berlin, with a lot to say on global topics.

DR: There will be some artists from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan there and I will be looking out for their practices, how they respond to the concept that the curator has identified like displacement, the diaspora, identity and cultural history. I like go to a national Pavilion to see how that country is portraying their art and culture, rather than look for the presentation of a particular artist.

Read More:

mplus.org

durjoybangladeshfoundation.org

 

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Reading time: 11 min

Arnaud Champenois is Senior Vice President, Global Brand, Marketing and Communications at Belmond (LVMH). LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh speaks with Arnaud Champenois about hospitality, sustainability, and how 2024 is set to be a game-changing year for Belmond

Pink hotel with pool

Belmond Legends – Mount Nelson Hotel (Photographed by Rosie Marks)

LUX: ‘One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.’ (Henry Miller). When did the first shoots of experiential hospitality emerge?

Arnaud Champenois: Experiential travel continues to grow in popularity as the world has become an increasingly mobile place. Prior to the 1980s, airfares were sky-high and the majority of commercial flights were to highly anglicized locations, very much on the beaten track. During this time, travel was also fairly limited to western travellers.

As ‘untrodden’ locations became an option, boomers were somewhat pioneers of experiential travel – which in that time was defined more as ‘activity-packed’ exploration holidays. Then came the internet, followed by social media and the trend snowballed from there…

Since then, the term ‘experiential travel’ has evolved. Modern luxury travellers now want something different. Tick-box, fast and thoughtless travel is in the past. Travellers want to go much deeper into a destination rather than purely seeing it and ticking it off their list. They wish to stay longer, try local delicacies, enjoy traditional music and crafts, understand the people, discover the real local treasures. They want to live the stories, not just hear them.

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Luxury travel is now providing this kind of experience, but to do this long into the future, it is vital that we as travel companies play our part in protecting and preserving the most cherished traditions and heritage of the destinations and communities travel relies upon and strive to make a net positive impact.

LUX: Looking back or looking forward, what is Belmond’s approach to restoring heritage buildings?

AC: History in built environments is fundamental to creating a sense of community and character. They are examples of a particular time and style of architecture that would otherwise be long forgotten. Whether it’s a building’s historical roots, its distinctive architecture, the materials used or some aspect of the decoration that’s particularly interesting, these buildings are visual reminders of an area’s cultural heritage, the people and industries that once and still do, establish an area.

But the hospitality industry caters to the travellers of today. Though many are interested in the historic cultural elements, they want to experience that heritage in an authentic way, whilst being allowed modern-day comforts.

white building night time lit up

MITICO 2024 – Copacabana Palace (Daniel Buren, Escala colorida para Copacabana Palace, trabalho in situ, 2023)

We believe we have a responsibility to be custodians of this timeless heritage, and to help preserve and enhance it for future generations. Our renovation and rejuvenation strategy follows our property-first approach to honour each renovation’s storied and timeless heritage; whilst celebrating the authenticity of each place and injecting contemporary soul to ensure they live on for years to come. We need our more historic assets to live and breathe and be enjoyed, not just be consigned to a museum.

Last year (2023) we revealed four major rejuvenations – the painstaking renovation of Maroma in Riviera Maya, the re-imagining Coquelicot, Belmond’s new luxury barge Coquelicot, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and Splendido in Portofino. We will continue to reimagine and rejuvenate, arming each property with the contemporary allure, enriched storytelling and meaningful guest experiences that propels them to be the best in their markets.

MITICO 2024 – Daniel Buren at Mount Nelson Hotel, 2023

LUX: What is the role for art in offering responsible hospitality?

AC: Art is a powerful medium which can support local communities giving both local established and upcoming artists a stage to reach new, larger audiences, whilst connecting guests to local cultures, inspiring and facilitating the appreciation of art.

One such example is Belmond’s partnership with internationally renowned contemporary art gallery, Galleria Continua in which we host large-scale art installations by global artists, across several of Belmond’s legendary properties. Entitled MITICO, the installations invite guests to see cultures through a different lens. Through MITICO’s acclaim and the representation of globally renowned artists through Galleria Continua, we have been able to further support local artists. Such as with the following two initiatives, equally launched with Galleria Continua: La Residencia in Mallorca’s “Artist in Residencia” programme, now in its second year. And PANORAMA, a city-wide exhibition conceptualised and organised by Italics bringing ancient, modern and contemporary art to the town of Monferrato, where Belmond will be a proud partner for the third year running.

In Cape Town at Mount Nelson, we’re working with young talented curators Heinrich Groenewald and Shona van der Merwe of RESERVOIR, who have curated an exhibition across the hotel with works from the Norval Foundation. Whilst at Castello di Casole in the undulating Tuscan hills, the hotel works closely with the archaeological museum in Casole d’Elsa, as most of their artefacts were found on the property grounds and even exhibit across the hotel.

Beyond events and installations, the curation of a rich portfolio of guest experiences centred directly around traditional art practices is a great way to support local communities. At Belmond we have a rich portfolio of experiences such as, traditional Peruvian pottery painting hosted by local pottery artists, exclusive Mexican folk art – ‘Mojigangas’ – workshops with resident artists and Balinese egg painting with third-generation egg painters, to name a few. Not only does this support the livelihoods of local artisans, but these guest experiences also help to ensure the continued existence of their crafts.

sculpture on balcony with view

MITICO 2023 – Villa San Michele ( Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s Teenager sculpture greets arriving guests. Photography by François Halard)

LUX: Why is l’art de vivre a core value for Belmond?

AC: The French concept of l’art de vivre takes its cues from France’s particular penchant for the finer things in life: art, wine, dining, fashion, even romance. At Belmond, we understand the components that make up the wonderful world of luxury and, with more than 45 years’ experience, we like to think we are well placed to help our guests appreciate the art of living well!

Contemporary creativity is wonderfully engaging in helping guests celebrate l’art de vivre of the destinations we operate in. Beyond in-person art installations and photography exhibitions, a good example of how we have celebrated the distinct character of our destinations is Belmond Legends, which is a contemporary photography series that offers alternative perspectives.

With camera in hand, exceptional talents from the likes of Jalan and Jibril Durimel, Thomas Rousset and Rosie Marks immersed themselves in each iconic hotel and destination to encapsulate intimate, dynamic and authentic moments that provide a glance into genuine guest experiences within these destinations. The photographs offer a progressive and personal perspective on these already iconic destinations – showing each property in a new light.

Beyond the topic of art, we help guests celebrate l’art de vivre through many experiences that enrich the mind, body and soul; from historical tours and enriching activities such as open water swimming in the Scottish Highlands as part of the Royal Scotsman itinerary, truffle foraging in Tuscany, or private culinary classes at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.

fruit on table

Belmond Legends – Villa San Michele (photographed by François Halard)

 

LUX: And finally, can you share a taste of this year’s art program?

AC: Since Belmond’s inception, we have had an intrinsic connection to the arts community, with our portfolio spanning heritage buildings and vintage trains – museums of ancient decorative crafts. Our ambition is to continue highlighting this historical aspect of our portfolio, whilst maintaining its relevancy in contemporary culture through photographic artistic collaboration.

BELMOND LEGENDS brings this concept to life with its incredible roster of international contemporary artists, whilst we lend our properties’ remarkable landscapes as their canvas.

So far, the project has brought an entirely new perspective on 11 of our legendary properties as captured by 10 internationally acclaimed photographers – Chris Rhodes, Francois Halard, Letizia Le Fur, Coco Capitan, Jalan and Jibril Durimel, Thomas Rousset, Rosie Marks, Jeano Edwards, and Jack Davison. With more announcements to come at Photo London in May 2024.

two boys in bed on train

Belmond Legends – Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (Photographed by Coco Capitán)

belmond.com

 

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Cristina Scocchia has led illycaffè, the Italian premium coffee company, through two years of record growth. She speaks with LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor Samantha Welsh about strong leadership, ethical behaviours and custodianship of a quintessentially ‘Made in Italy’ brand that is also a B Corp and leader in sustainable practice

Cristina Scocchia CEO of illycaffè

LUX: What is your approach to leadership, what are your values?

Cristina Scocchia: In my opinion, good leadership is made of many components. Early on in your career, you need to focus on strategic thinking and work on an ability to make decisions, even the toughest ones without feeling the pressure. It is also important to stand up for the decisions you make, whether they are easy or tough.

As your career progresses emotional intelligence becomes more important as you begin managing different people. It is important to take care of your teams, to be emotionally intelligent, authentic and empathetic in order to engender trust and an effective team. As you start managing bigger teams, which could include different markets, it is important to have a political intelligence.

At the very top of the pyramid, I feel the most important element of leadership is moral consistency. This is important because as a leader, you need to set the tone, you need to integrate economic, financial, social, environmental and ethical value – all of which are integral to illycaffè. Leadership is not power; it is a responsibility.

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LUX: How do these values match illy’s pillars, the mission?

CS: One of the reasons why I decided to accept the role as CEO of illycaffè was because I had had the opportunity to get to know the company beforehand. I learned that sustainability for illy is not just a trend for them, even 30 years ago, illy was integrating sustainable initiatives.

For decades it has built value across all elements of the value chain starting from the growers in Brazil to the baristas in every city across the world. The brand has a true focus on ethical behaviours which is something illy and I have in common.

illy selects the finest Arabica coffee plants, grown sustainably by their farmers in over 30 countries around the world

LUX: illy is quintessentially Italian, do people have a nostalgia for the brand?

CS: Founded 91 years ago by Francesco illy and now under the wing of the 3rd generation of the family with Andrea Illy, illycaffè has long been a much-loved brand. We have been, since day one, an icon of the ‘Made in Italy’ concept. When we think about ‘Made in Italy’ products, we think about quality, innovation, creativity and an Italian style of life. As a company, we try to be ambassadors across the world for this Italian style of life and make people feel at home when they see an illy coffee shop.

Our objective is to offer a holistic experience for the consumer, we want to focus on the best quality and most sustainable products, as well as evoke emotion and creativity.

This is why 30 years ago we decided to create the illy Art Collection. This collection is now one of the largest contemporary art collections in the world. Utilising illy’s iconic Mattheo Thun designed espresso cup as a canvas, we have partnered with more than 127 contemporary artists including Ai Wei Wei and Jeff Koons.

A couple of years ago, we launched a new collaboration with Italian design company, Kartell, who primarily focus on sustainable furniture. We sourced a selection of materials which were at the end of their life including our illy coffee capsules which we then transformed into a chair, partnering with illustrious designers such as Philippe Stark.

illy has perfected the process to obtain a coffee with a rich aromatic flavour and a one of a kind aroma

LUX: How has illy continued to lead in R&D and how does knowledge transfer impact the supply chain?

CS: We have several knowledge sharing programmes between illy and our growers. We are constantly working with them to produce the best quality and most sustainable coffee which has the least impact on the environment. With quality important to us, we select only 100% Arabica coffee beans, buying only the best 1%.

Through our University of Coffee, we support growers throughout the whole production process, working together on ways to use less fertiliser and pesticides and how to reduce the production of CO2. The University of Coffee also supports consumers and baristas internationally, educating them about the coffee world.

LUX: Can you tell us about illy’s early move into regenerative agriculture, also how this adds value?

CS: illy has long been committed to mitigating the effects of climate change and we work with the entire supply chain to promote the sustainability of regenerative agriculture. This model allows for proper nourishment of the plants, regeneration of the soil and reducing CO2 emissions, as well as improving the wider health of the ecosystem.

This year, we developed our first regenerative coffeemono-origin, the illy Arabica Selection Brazil Cerrado Mineiro, which we are very proud of. It is the first of its kind worldwide and is fully certified and regenerative, marking a shift from plant to soil. It is the first Italian coffee company to be certified BCorp.

LUX: What is illy’s sustainability strategy going forward?

CS: A strategy of ours that we are currently working towards is quantifying CO2 emissions and understanding how much CO2 is produced by the growers when they cultivate our coffee When we obtain this information, we then share this throughout the institution and community in order for others to benefit from what we are learning. We are hugely committed to having the lowest impact possible on the environment. Our plan is to be carbon neutral by 2033 – to mark our centenary.

Read more: Marcus Ericksen on keeping our oceans healthy

LUX: Where do you see opportunities for illy to grow?

CS: Our objective is to become more of a global company. Within the next 5 years, we are looking to expand into the US as this market for us is the second biggest worldwide, following Italy. We are already very strong within the ecommerce space and highly profitable, however, we still have a desire to keep evolving.

We are also interested in exploring areas of white space, an example of which is China. These markets are traditionally more focused on tea than coffee, however, in recent years, coffee has become more and more integrated within markets and we see this as significant growth opportunity.

illy.com

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Reading time: 5 min
two men black and white standing next to each other

Alain Servais is an investment banker and collector of art-as-ideas, whose family collection is showcased in The Loft, a repurposed factory in central Brussels. In a conversation moderated by LUX’s Leaders & Philanthropists editor, Samantha Welsh, Servais speaks with South Asian philanthropist and collector, Durjoy Rahman, about supporting artists who give minorities a voice and make people think.

two men black and white standing next to each other

Alain Servais (left) and Durjoy Rahman (right). Photo montage by Isabel Phillips

LUX: How has business shaped your your passion for art?

DURJOY RAHMAN: I started my career at a very young age when I started my business in textiles and garments production. It was when I started exporting that I found that I experienced a negative perception about Bangladesh. I had to engage in a kind of cultural diplomacy when I went to business meetings! I would talk positively about the good things happening in Bangladesh, sharing what was interesting for buyers in course of business development.

ALAIN SERVAIS: For me it was about filling a gap rather than part of my business plan. Investment banking is about trying to understand human nature, anticipating what will happen, asking questions, maybe about the effects of a societal drift to the far right, or changing attitudes to minorities, the potential disruption from new tech and social media, and so on. So understanding herd instinct is very important. In its way it’s pretty sterile as it is all about money. You are missing the voices of so many different people. That is what is interesting in Art.

LUX: How did you become interested in art?

AS: I have no collector-parents, no experience of studying or making art at all, I fell into art by accident. It’s about the convergence of those interesting parts of human nature, professional and private, a kind of curiousness. And that came from working in investment banking, because you are so used to absorbing a massive amount of data and opinion to make decisions.

DR: It was an accident for me too. I was visiting New York and I first saw the silk screens of Marilyn Monroe and Ingrid Bergmann (which in fact I eventually collected). I decided to license and reprint the graphics on a European fashion brand T-shirt, by Replay I remember. It was this fashion x art collaboration which catalysed my art journey.

LUX: So discovery is a big part of your vision?

DR: Yes, I was frequently away on business in Europe and North America, and I would visit the many galleries and museums as I was passing through, always noticing the contrast with South Asia, where we had few institutions despite our long cultural heritage and traditional practices. So that’s why I decided that one day I would do something about it by creating a platform of my own.

AS: I love traveling, discovering other cultures, getting close to parts of the world that people have prejudice and ignorance about.  I had the chance to go to Bangladesh and discovered a totally different, very rich culture. The way I process the experience is through bringing back works of art.

LUX: Should collectors open the door to alternative realities?

AS: We should stop making out that collectors are Superman/woman! We are just human beings finding outlets in art, revealing society’s many problems in the process.  This is about my own interest in contemporary culture.  I have a real problem with nostalgia and the selfishness of it all.

sculptures free standing in studio

Artworks in a 2019-2020 exhibition at The Loft, the 900 square meter space which has housed the Servais family collection since 2010.

LUX: Is this why you collect ‘emerging’ artists?

AS: Emerging artists for me are the artists who are not selling-out to that nostalgic drive. It’s about the art created today that is worth preserving. Every major museum on the planet is based on the private collections of a few crazy collectors who plugged into whatever was going on in society at that time and collected artists who were expressing that in a particularly advanced way. For instance, forty years ago, Sophie Calle the French installation artist was already anticipating social media and reality shows – people want to watch people. So it’s about collecting and preserving artists’ works really early on, when Society does not yet understand their message.

DR: I agree, I really dislike the term ‘emerging artist’! These are claims not accurate predictions of who will be a great artist. In the art world, there is a structure, a platform, discipline, practice, so we can to an extent deduce who may emerge to be a strong or great artist. As to how successful they will be, that is far harder to judge. If you look at Bangladesh, Bangladesh is only 52 years old, so most artists here have actually been ‘emerging’ since 1971 ie post-Independence. DBF supports artists from this period and empowers them to create innovative bodies of work, influenced by social change. It’s about their context, their transmission of their knowledge and their influences.

sofas in room with art on walls

Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation Creative Studio in Dhaka features works from around the Global South including, ‘Orator’ By William Kentridge (right) and ‘Rise of a Nation’ By Raghu Rai (left)

AS: Yes, yesterday I bought an innovative work from an artist from Bali. She had been totally underestimated to the extent she had never, in fact, even been called an ‘emerging artist’. She had, though, created new narratives through traditional Balinese painting and coloration, all pretty outrageous and about sexual liberation, lots of crazy images of penises, vaginas and everything. A good artist is someone that sends a message to the world, and a good collector is the one that understands this message before the masses. They are two sides of the same coin.

LUX: How is art messaging the voices of minority artists?

DR: We should first define what ‘minority’ means. After all, it means different things to different people. Sometimes, I feel like a minority when I enter the room at an event in the global North! It can be discomforting but I get over it with introductions and conversations.

AS: Yes, Durjoy, you’re right, you are a minority when traveling, and I am even an minority in Belgium – because when people visit The Loft they don’t get the art at all and probably think my kids should be taken into care! We are both minorities because we are both free-thinking individuals and non-conformists.

free standing art

The Great Revel of Hairy Harry Who Who: Orgy in the cellar, 2015, by Athena Papadopoulos, in Dérapages & Post-bruises Imaginaries, the 2018-2019 exhibition at The Loft in Brussels.

DR: With the minority artists in Bangladesh, it’s not just about their religion or social status but can be about differences in cultural practice. For example, the remote Hill Tracts indigenous communities in Bangladesh are considered to be minorities, so when we talk about the cultural heritage of Bangladesh, DBF showcases their arts and crafts to the global North. By shining a light on their art we are bringing them into the discourse and including them in society. With our Future of Hope program during Covid, we included these indigenous artists from the Hill Tracts and two have become very prominent right now. Similarly, we took our project for Kochi Biennale from the remote northern region of Bangladesh. This was a very significant artwork created by ethnic communities who would never have been exhibited on the world stage.

sculpture of women dancing

Installation view of Bhumi, with support from The Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation, at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India.

AS: I learn a lot from the artists from the global South. Recently, I bought a work by a photographer from Bangladesh. It is an image around infrastructure, bridges, highways and I wanted it not just because I loved the aesthetic but because the message around it was deliberately unfinished. After I’d bought the work, not before, I made sure I sat next to the photographer at the festival dinner and was grateful for the experience of talking with him, on equal terms. It is a two-way business.

LUX: What is the responsibility of the audience toward the artist?

DR: Artists practice as they wish. It’s how the audience accepts their work that is the question. As a collector and as a founder of a foundation, we open up the opportunity for a deeper engagement from the audience with the artist’s social concerns. These activations are beyond direct action and inventions, creating a positive ripple effect. You have to ask yourself, ‘Am I here to change the world or to support a range of alternatives?’ We enable artists to create bodies of work that widen their potential for recognition on the world stage by bringing awareness of their voice and their cause.

portraits of women

Parables of the Womb by Dilara Begum Jolly at DBF Creative Studio.

AS: As far as the responsibility of the artist is concerned, I don’t like the quasi-deification of the artist. There are so many bad artists around! It is not enough to call yourself an artist to be an artist. I was with a collector in Istanbul last week and he told me he had reserved an exhibition space for a solo exhibition by an emerging artist, emphasising it had to be an artist with no gallery representation. It was to be for six weeks. He actually refused the the first offer, saying “I want to see if artists will fight for it!” For him, the fighting was an important element as so many artists were not thinking about what they are doing and why they were doing it.

LUX: Where do you think your art philanthropy will be, ten years’ from now?

DR: With DBF, we want to be an influential and vital activist who has used the power of art and culture to good effect, to make positive, impactful change in terms of social justice. I agree with Alain, we must question everything and that curiosity must inform our vision for the next decade.

a loft with art in it

Servais hosts exhibitions from his collection of international contemporary artists at The Loft, where he also hosts artists’ residencies.

AS: Because governments are funding the arts the arts less and less, I spend more and more time documenting the works I’m acquiring! I’m doing this to record for posterity the complexity of the artist’s thinking. I hope institutions give more power to curators to offer opportunities to interesting artists so we have the vital two-way discussions. I think we are going to go through extremely difficult times and I would not like to be this young generation. We need people like Durjoy, we need these discourses, we must give people a voice, and we must make people think!

 

Find out more: durjoybangladeshfoundation.org

Servais Family Collection on Instagram: @collectionservais

 

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Reading time: 9 min
Male with arms crossed standing next to art
Male with arms crossed standing next to art

Petr Pudil, collector and founder of Kunsthalle Praha

A decade ago, an entrepreneur bought a decommissioned power station located in a prime position opposite Prague Castle. Investing some $40M together with his Family Foundation he regenerated this brownfield site and in 2015 relaunched it as the landmark Kunsthalle Praha, Prague’s first non-profit private institution. Samantha Welsh speaks with Petr Pudil about his passion for collecting, why he is dedicated to supporting contemporary Czech artists, and his vision for connecting the local art scene with international art movements.

big building with orange roof in sunshine

Former electrical substation, art institution Kunsthalle Praha

LUX: What is your background as an entrepreneur?

Petr Pudil: I am co-founder of BPD partners, leading family office in Prague. The BPD partners group actively seeks out companies with promising scientific and technological backgrounds. The priority is projects that bring new challenges regarding healthy economic growth and are in line with internationally recognised standards of social responsibility and sustainability.

Interior of building, empty space, white walls wood floors

The former power station redeveloped as Kunsthalle Praha

A stable part of the portfolio consists of long-term investments in biotechnology and chemistry, including investments in basic research, renewable resources, and the construction of environmentally friendly office complexes and residential properties.

 

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LUX:  When did you become involved with art philanthropy?

PP: My wife, Pavlina, and I started collecting art almost twenty years ago. We have never seen it as a financial investment, but rather as a tool to understand the connections of the world and life through the lens of artists, which is an alternative and enriching perspective for me as a businessman.

man and woman standing next to each other in a living space

Pavlina and Petr Pudil, collectors and cultural philanthropists

By purchasing contemporary art, we also wanted to support living artists. The idea to build a new Kunsthalle in Prague came about approximately 9 years ago.

LUX: How does Czech fit, historically, within the Central Europe art canon?

PP: The Czech lands and later Czechoslovakia have been in cultural contact with many European centres in the past centuries, naturally with Vienna within the monarchy, with Munich, and later in the 20th century, with Paris. As Václav Havel said, Prague has been a cultural crossroad of Europe for a thousand years. Our country is a natural part of the cultural and historical development of Central Europe.

LUX: What was your founding idea for the Kunsthalle Praha?

PP: We founded Kunsthalle Praha as a non-profit and non-governmental institution whose mission is to bring art to the lives of as many people as possible, with a focus on the younger generation. The second part of our mission is to connect the local scene with the international art environment.

LUX: What collaborations and sectors have you enjoyed shining a light on during these two years?

PP: I will highlight two moments. Since opening, our building has seen over 210,000 visitors, with the majority being younger than 35, which is a great result. And then, the introductory exhibition “Kinetismus,” which was created through a curatorial collaboration with Peter Weibel and ZKM Karlsruhe.

Art light installation in gallery

Inaugural exhibition November 2022, Kinetismus, photo by Vojtêch Veškrna, Kunsthalle Praha

It was an highly innovative exhibition that involved demanding research and, at the same time, became very popular with the local audience.

LUX: Vaclav Havel, Nobel Prize satirist and first democratically-elected president of post-soviet Czech and Slovakia, is a symbol for many of the trust vested by the people in literature to say the unsayable.  Was the samizdat movement art activism or covert propaganda?

PP: Currently, there is an exhibition at Kunsthalle Praha titled “Read” by Elmgreen & Dragset, where part of the exposition is about Czech samizdat literature.

Man walking between bookshelves

Installation ‘Point of View’ 2024 at exhibition ‘READ’ by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragnet

Samizdat was neither activism nor covert propaganda. It was driven by the simple desire of people for information and literature that was denied to them. Naturally, such “forbidden fruit” had a much wider audience than the dissident Charter 77 led by informal leader Václav Havel.

LUX: How has Kunsthalle Praha been received by your peers in the contemporary art ecosystem?            

PP: Kunsthalle Praha is bringing another platform for the presentation of contemporary and modern art to Prague, as well as a space for trans-generational dialogue between different communities. Our goal is to collaborate with other institutions, which we have been successful in achieving so far. We perceive the cultural institution ecosystem as a collaborative, rather than competitive, environment.

LUX: You are an innovator and serial entrepreneur, where else is your focus?

PP: Surely, it is a sport. I try to engage in some physical activity every day, and running, in particular, is an addiction and a way of mental regeneration for me.

LUX: How do you see your foundation evolving as a platform for sustainability in art?

PP: We have sought to apply sustainability principles already during the renovation of the building. It is not a new construction but the revitalisation of a contaminated brownfield in the historical center of Prague. We are preparing an ESG report and striving to exceed our regional peers in all aspects of ESG metrics

Read more: Lazard’s Jennifer Anderson on the Evolution of ESG Investing

LUX: What one tip would you share with a young collector wanting to make a difference?

PP: It is not easy at all to find distinctiveness, it is actually a very ambitious goal. If you want to build a unique, distinctive collection, I would focus on new, digital media. Everyone knows that the digitisation of society must be reflected in art, but we still don’t know how art will respond to this phenomenon, and we certainly don’t know yet how to collect such art.

 

Online Editor: Isabel Phillips

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Reading time: 4 min
green vineyard with tree and building and sun

Picasso, Miro, Dali, Richter, Braque: supreme Bordeaux Chateau Mouton-Rothschild has had them all, and many more, create its wine label over the decades. Candice Tucker speaks to Julien de Beaumarchais, from the owning family of the esteemed first growth, about the latest label artist, Chiharu Shiota, whose work adorns the excellent 2021 vintage

LUX: How has your relationship with art changed through the process of commissioning these label artworks?

Julien de Beaumarchais: Before the passing of my mother, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, in 2014, I spent more than 15 years working in the market for Old Master paintings and drawings, the creators of which had been dead for a very long time. So it was a radical change for me when, after 2014, I became responsible for the artists who would illustrate the label for our next vintage. I found myself in contact with famous people with strong personalities who were very much alive, accompanying them throughout their creative adventure for Mouton. From Miquel Barceló to Shiharu Chiota, it has been quite a voyage of discovery into all the diversity and complexity of the leading names of contemporary art.

wine barrels with lights and under the tunnels

Château Mouton Rothschild Winery. Photo by Alain Benoit

LUX: Can you illuminate the relationship of the family with this particular artist Chiharu Shiota? How do you choose your artists?

JB: The choice of the artist is a family affair, made in consultation with the other two owners of Château Mouton Rothschild, my sister Camille Sereys de Rothschild and my brother Philippe Sereys de Rothschild. The artists are chosen first and foremost because we like their work and that they are world renowned. My mother, the late Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (1933- 2014) used to give the following answer to this question, which still holds true today: “I have no particular method or five-year plan: my choice is based on my enthusiasm for an artist’s work. I always establish a personal relationship with them, which often turns into friendship, because I deeply love the art of the painter I ask, and for me each work is an expression of the artist’s love for Mouton and its magic.”

A long time ago my mother told me she had been fascinated by one of Chiharu Shiota’s works, shown alongside those of other young artists, at the Galerie Daniel Templon in Paris. For her, on that day, Chiharu Shiota really stood out, and the future has proved her right. The artist’s fame has grown with the passing years, as has the number of exhibitions of her works around the world, and I in turn have been fascinated by her striking, captivating installations. Chance played an important part too: in 2019, on the occasion of a visit to Château Mouton Rothschild, the director of the Mori Art Center in Tokyo offered me a copy of the magnificent catalogue of the great Chiharu Shiota retrospective at the Mori. Leafing through it, I said to myself “One day I will ask Chiharu Shiota to create an artwork for Mouton”.

 

Read more: Prince Robert de Luxembourg on Art & Fine Wine

 

LUX: Which artists do you wish you had secured in the past, who are now either unavailable or dead?

JB: That’s a very hard question to answer: there are so many wonderful artists we would have liked to work with, but there is only one a year. Those missing from the list who died before we were able to ask them include Louise Bourgeois, Cy Twombly, Vieira da Silva and, more recently, Sam Szafran in 2019… But the most important thing is to focus on the artists to come.

 

LUX: How do you feel the context of the artwork by Chiharu Shiota is influenced by the wine and the vineyard?

JB: When I discovered Chiharu Shiota’s artwork for Château Mouton Rothschild, I was fascinated by her vision, so close to the world of wine, especially in the relationship between humankind and nature. Indeed, the human figure is a fragile silhouette facing nature, gorgeous and generous but seemingly dominant, in the same way that the vinegrower is exposed to the unpredictable power of the vine. Yet the four threads that link them, symbolising the four seasons, show that the grower is also capable of channelling it and guiding it towards the ideal of a great wine. I really love this bright red colour, one of her trademarks, so reminiscent of a fabulous cluster of grapes or of new wine running out of the vats…

Plus, Chiharu Shiota said of his visit to Château Mouton Rothschild: “When I visited Château Mouton Rothschild, I was very inspired by their relationship with nature. They depend on the weather and do not interfere with mother nature. They accept the conditions in which the grapes grow. I think Mouton is holding on to the balance of human and nature.”

a label for wine with an artist image on it

Château Mouton Rothschild 2021 Vintage label by Chiharu Shiota

LUX: Can you further speak to the wider context of art in untraditional spaces, which these commissions exemplify?

JB: It is true that nowadays artistic creation is to be found on a wide variety of media, and sometimes in highly unexpected places. But art on wine labels is not exactly untraditional, at least not for us, and we seem to have set an example for others. However, Mouton occupies a unique position for two reasons: it was the first château to feature labels illustrated with an original artwork (Jean Carlu in 1924), and after that to have asked the greatest names in contemporary art to create an artwork for the label.

 

LUX: Do you think people buy the wines because of the labels?

JB: Yes and no. Château Mouton Rothschild’s success is due above all to the quality of the wine. But art lovers or admirers of a particular artist who has created an artwork for a label may acquire a certain bottle for that reason, or else a wine collector may want to buy a specific vintage to complete their collection of Mouton Rothschild with illustrated labels.

 

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LUX: Would you be able to share about the vineyard’s involvement in the artists process and their work for this commission?

JB: It is very important for us that the artist should come and spend some time at Château Mouton Rothschild, to get a feel for the place, a better understanding of our history, our terroir and the way we make our wine. The visit is often a source of inspiration.

Artists are not given any particular instructions when they create a label for Château Mouton Rothschild: they have entire creative freedom. That being said, many artists have chosen to base their illustration, each in their own way, on subjects related to Mouton, such as the ram and the vine.

There is a long and impressive line of artists who have contributed to these labels, with public access to the original works.

vineyard in yellow light and sky

Château Mouton Rothschild estate. Photo by Alain Benoit

LUX: Can you tell us more about how you may hope to amplify this exhibition?

JB: The exhibition amplifies itself, since a new work is added to the collection each year! But more than amplify, what I would like most is to diversify, in terms of both creative techniques and the geographical origin of our future artists.

Find out more:mouton-rothschild

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Reading time: 6 min
A blue and red zig zag on white shoes

Fashion designer Manolo Blahnik is something of a legend within the shoe industry. His career truly kicked off in 1969 after meeting US Vogue Editor in Chief, Diana Vreeland; after that, he devoted himself to designing shoes, opening the first Manolo Blahnik store in Chelsea, London, the next year. He speaks to Trudy Ross about his design philosophy, dressing for yourself and looking to the future

LUX: You’ve said before that shoes are in your DNA. Can you share the story of how you first decided to spend your career designing them?
Manolo Blahnik: It was all thanks to Mrs Vreeland. When I met her I was in a state of catatonic nerves; I grew up with Mrs Vreeland, with Harper’s Bazaar. I had presented some sketches to her of set and theatrical designs and she told me to design shoes. She said “Young man, stick to the extremities and make shoes!”. She gave me the advice I so needed to hear and paved the path for me to follow.

I took a hands-on approach and learned from the best shoemakers in Italian factories. To this day, working in the factories is still my favourite part of the job.White and red leather shoe point with blue and red dots

LUX: Tell us about how you opened your first store in the 1970s.
MB: The 1970s was such a fun time in London. It’s funny, the ’70s are absolutely much clearer than the ’80s. We opened the store on Old Church Street in London and that was the very beginning. I didn’t have anything to put in the shop! A friend of mine called Peter Young found the place. He said, ‘There is a wonderful place, far away from everything with no other shops on the street except a pastry shop.”

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I loved it and I took it, not thinking about how I didn’t have any people, customers, nothing. I used to live in Notting Hill and cross the park on a bike. I would come to the shop every day. We used to open at 10 o’ clock. I ate some cookies at the pastry shop and then we would call Italy and get the shoes done.Two colourful heels displayed against a 1960's style sign

LUX: What is your favourite part of the design process?
MB: Without a doubt, working with the artisans in the factories. I have been working with the same artisans for over 35 years. Craftmanship is in their blood, passed down over generations. The team there know exactly what I am thinking and strive to bring all my creations to life, even the most intricate and embellished designs, always pushing boundaries to ensure the complete perfection and the attention to detail required in each of my collections.

Developing seasonal styles with the artisans and spending time in the factory is truly my favourite part of the job. It always has been and always will be.

LUX: Can shoes be a work of art? Can they be more than a work of art?
MB: Shoes can be inspired by art. I am always inspired by art. Francisco Goya did the best shoes in his paintings! I think I would collect all his art if I could. It has hugely inspired me throughout many of my collections and I can’t count how many hours I have spent staring at his works in the Prado museum.

I want my shoes to embody personal style and creativity, pieces of art for your feet.Leg in suede black boot against a background of white and red stripes and lights

LUX: How can one stay ahead of the fashion curve?
MB: By not following trends. Staying true to who you are and dressing the way you want is, in my opinion, true style. It is a physical attitude that cannot be bought.

I’ve never been one to follow trends. If I see too much of something, I change it. What’s the point of people wearing the same dresses and the same shoes? Everybody ends up looking like clones and I hate that. Individuality is what makes us all unique. I like independence and I love eccentricity. If you like something, buy it. Find your style and stick to it.

LUX: Style or comfort?
MB: I believe you can have both. I spend a lot of time with the artisans testing the comfort of our shoes. Elegance and comfort go hand in hand, you must be comfortable to appear elegant, one cannot exist without the other. There is nothing charming about a woman who cannot walk in her shoes.Red white and black kitten heel on a light up sign

LUX: Women’s or men’s fashion?
MB: Both! What’s wonderful is that people are starting to dress up again. In London, men and women alike are now dressed up and going to Savile Row to have suits made.

So long as we are human, we will want to be decorated—for ourselves; not for other people so much. When I wake up in the morning I say, “I’m going to wear happy colours today,” and that is for myself!

LUX: What does it take to create a truly iconic brand identity?
MB: Be true to who you are and believe in what you do! I think the most important thing is the product. That should always remain at the centre.

But for me, it’s not about being a big brand or ‘iconic’! I just want to be healthy and keep doing things. I don’t want anything else. I have everything I want, and I have wonderful memories.

LUX: In the age of e-commerce and social media, how has the digital landscape affected the Manolo Blahnik brand?
MB: You must move with the times or else you will get left behind. Our e-commerce website and social media are a crucial part of the business. When we started to work on The Craft Room, I wanted it to be online so that anyone, anywhere in the world can access this virtual world. It’s exciting! It’s wonderful to be able to connect with the world in this way.

LUX: What does sustainability mean to you?
MB: We don’t use the term ‘sustainability’ because I feel that sustainability is misunderstood. It’s binary: you either are or you are not. We use the term ‘responsibility’ because it is a journey.

My personal philosophy, which was passed down to me from my parents, is that you buy the best quality you can afford and look after it. Mend garments and shoes, have things altered as necessary and upcycled when the time comes. I detest waste and think that overconsumption is unnecessary and lazy.

LUX: In 3 words, how would you describe the world of Manolo Blahnik?
MB: Timeless, colourful and elegant!

Read more: Blazé Milano’s Corrada Rodriguez d’Acrci on creating iconic style 

LUX: Where do you predict your brand will be in ten years’ time?
MB: I am so lucky to have my niece, Kristina, as CEO. She has been working on building foundations to protect the brand. We are a family business with a family mindset and it is wonderful we are able to keep it this way. I hope that people continue to enjoy our shoes. We aim to create beautiful handmade pieces that last and make people smile.

Find out more: www.manoloblahnik.com

All images are from the Winter ’23 Collection

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Reading time: 6 min
Colourful boats on a beach

In August 2022, Parley for the Oceans and the Government of Andhra Pradesh celebrated the official launch of Parley India with one of the largest coastline cleanups in the world, spanning 28km of shoreline, 14 beaches and eight fishing villages

Cyrill Gutsch is the founder and driving force behind Parley for the Oceans, an organisation dedicated to protecting the oceans through underutilised avenues such as art, design, fashion and collaboration. He speaks to Trudy Ross about the material revolution, the pivotal role of artists in inspiring change, and the unique approach of partnering with big corporations for a sustainable future

LUX: What is the Parley for the Oceans movement?
Cyrill Gutsch: The core of what we are striving to do is to bring about a ‘material revolution’. We want exploitative and harmful materials and business practices to become a thing of the past. When you look at all of the environmental issues we face today, it always comes back to the way that we run businesses, which is based on an old belief that we can only survive if we are strong and even cruel. It is a very masculine, and outdated, idea of how to run society.

We must switch our model towards true collaboration, between humans and also with nature, instead of taking and taking, and then discarding what we no longer like.

LUX: Why are artists and art so central to your vision of sustainability?
CG: I believe that the artist, in every revolution, has a big role to play. Artists are in a unique position; people come to them, without any predefined expectation, ready to be provoked and to learn. They are also special people, in that they don’t have a hidden agenda, and they are extremely good communicators. Artwork can play an important role in supporting a movement like Parley’s for fundraising, communication, and to build doors to subject matters which can otherwise be difficult for people to understand.

Huge underwater scultpure

Sculplture from Underwater Pavilions, an installation by artist Doug Aitken, produced by Parley for the Oceans and presented in partnership with The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA)

A good artist can have the impact on people that schools, conferences, and news articles can’t have. They have a superpower – they get close to people’s hearts. They open people up to new values.

At Parley, artists have a convening role. When Julian Schnabel collaborated with Parley for the Oceans in 2019, a diverse audience of politicians, wealthy individuals, collectors, other artists, people from the entertainment industry and entrepreneurs showed up in New York to discuss a topic which was new and challenging for most of the people in the room. The art community is the home for the Parley movement.

LUX: Repositioning artists in the centre of the climate change cause is quite radical. What would you say to people who would argue that, to make real change, you have to look to science, facts and hard policy?
CG: Artists have the perfect vantage point: they cannot be bound by conventional limitations, and therefore they can redefine reality. Unlike other groups, they can do this in a way which does not put themselves in danger. It is so easy for an artist to call for a revolution. First, you create a space for the protection of revolutionary ideas. Science and policy come second. If you don’t begin by gaining support of the right people, then you cannot succeed – even with the right tools in hand.

At Parley, we cannot tell governments to implement new, sustainable economic models. Rather, we collaborate with them. Once we see true intention from them to do better, we can work with them on policy and incentive programmes for industries. Ultimately, however, it comes down to the people who own businesses. If company shareholders make the choice to ditch the use of fossil fuels, plastics, and exploitative and harmful business matter, then it will happen.

Young people waving flags on the beach

The Ocean Uprise Internship Program gives young people from around the world opportunity to learn from ocean experts, take part in skill-based workshops, and implement a local community project

Our audience is a mix of people. First, there are wealthy people who often do not know how unsustainable the companies they invest in are, or how they could invest better. Second, there are the corporations themselves, who are under pressure to deliver the numbers. They cannot take risks. Now they are finally being challenged by legislators to change their business model, but this is still not quick enough, and there is still not enough pressure from the government. The government could change climate change overnight. It is a complex riddle.

The way that we believe that you can create radical change is through a combination of new ideas, access to knowledge, and eco-innovation. This technological innovation is made up of two things – the first being natural, or bio-fabricated materials, the second being green chemistry. We can easily revolutionise our industries with a bit of willingness, understanding, strategy and investment into new technology. All of that is driven by imagination. The moment that we want to do something – and radically believe in it – then we have the skill to make it happen. That is the beauty and the danger of our species.

LUX: How do you approach forming relationships with bigger, for-profit organisations while standing by your values as an NGO committed to protecting the planet?
CG: The environmental issues we are facing today are caused by corporations. That is it. You can protest and not buy their products, but this is difficult. We depend on the products that they make – but we know that they are destroying our planet. But at Parley, we have a more innovative approach: if we come to one company, then we can make a much larger change.

Inside a dark tented structure

Parley for the Oceans is working with Christo and Jeanne-Claude to rework the fabric from their public artwork L’Arc de Triomphe

LUX: You have partnered with many iconic brands. Which collaboration are you most proud of?
CG: I want to speak about Dior. As part of the LVMH group, they are a representation of an old economy. Sustainable change is a big challenge for them. It is difficult for such established companies to innovate, to find alternatives to leather and fur, to plastic, to dyes and prints.

But Dior allowed us to help them. Making the yarn and fabric, and recycled materials, was a long but rewarding process. Eventually they saw that it was great. Now they’re saying “What can we do with leather? How can we replace plastic? How can we use 100% natural materials?” We must be willing to invest. It might take two years for material made from banana leaves in the Philippines to get to the level where it can become part of a collection.
We need commitment – like Dior had – from big brands.

LUX: Do you think that this time and economic investment is the future of the luxury industry?
CG: Yes. And Parley is giving the luxury industry the laboratory for that, changing material use and educating on innovative methods. And we must revamp the whole supply chain and lifecycle of a product. We must look at unsustainable agriculture. Fertilisers and pesticides destroy the nutrition value of the soil; pesticides run through waterways to the sea. There are huge dead zones in the ocean because fertilisers and pesticides have destroyed everything. Yet there are beautiful alternatives in farming. Every detail counts.

Children running into the sea

Parley Ocean School youth programs are made in collaboration with with local schools, NGOs and governments around the world

LUX: How do you imagine that our oceans will look in 10 years’ time?
CG: Ten years is long and short. On one hand, it is long: if we stalled human activity, I have no doubt that the oceans would be fully recovered in ten years. Extinct species would not return, but other species would evolve. Unfortunately, we are not doing that, and the speed of changing the market and the way we are working is much slower.

On the other hand, in transforming the economy, ten years is a blink of an eye. The only way to drive change in a ten year window is to aggressively address the issues we face. That means the intersection of carbon dioxide, methane gas, stopping plastic pollution, or at least cutting it down at scale. And then, 25 years down the road, we will have eradicated most of the toxic materials we are using.

Humans are very good under pressure. When humans understand that they are threatened, they will aggressively transform. And I believe that humans are ready for peace. There is a desire in us now to drive this revolution.

Find out more: parley.tv

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Reading time: 7 min
Split shot of the oceans and some cliffs
Split shot of the sea and some cliffs

The rocky desert coastline of the northern Red Sea. Sea levels around the world are rising and coral is being bleached by acidification due to increasing CO2 levels

Amid much scepticism about whether the global climate summit COP28, taking place in Dubai over the next few weeks, will actually bear any positive results, there are rays of hope. Ted Janulis, investor, entrepreneur and founder of Investable Oceans, outlines the reasons he is feeling cheerful in the run-up to an event that needs to change the way we think about and deal with climate change

In just a few days, 70,000 people will convene in Dubai to attend COP28 (the 28th annual “Conference of the Parties”), where delegates from countries all around the world will discuss how to address the climate crisis. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – tasked with finding ways to reduce emissions – will track member states’ progress on emission reductions and negotiate further collective action, alongside business leaders, climate scientists, journalists, and others in attendance. Major topics will include how vulnerable communities can adapt to climate change and how to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

We’re at a critical juncture for our climate and oceans, so this COP is particularly important. While increased commitments provide grounds for some optimism, our oceans and climate face continuing serious challenges. We’re not on course to stay within the 1.5C increase above pre-industrial levels scientists warn is required to avoid serious environmental and human consequences, and in addition we’re falling far short of the $150 billion per year cited by recent research needed to achieve the goals of Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water by 2030. The bottom line, as former president of Ireland Mary Robinson eloquently put it: “We cannot afford to have a bad COP”.

A camel walking by the sea

Desertification and coastal erosion are major issues facing the world

Despite these daunting circumstances, we’re looking forward to seeing oceans having a substantial presence at COP28. This is a continuation of a theme that has gained momentum throughout 2023: there is growing recognition that the oceans, the world’s largest carbon sink, will play a pivotal role in providing solutions for climate change.

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This year’s Climate Week NYC in September was a clear demonstration of this progression, as the number of events, announcements and real outcomes increased substantially from previous years. Amy Novogratz, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Aqua-Spark, asserted that: “Climate Week is feeling very Blue this year, finally!”

External shot of an ocean pavilion

The Ocean Pavilion at the 2022 COP in Sharm el-Sheikh. The 2023 Pavilion features ten ocean themes

A substantial increase in investable opportunities has added to this marine momentum. At least 10 new blue economy dedicated funds have launched over the past year, bringing the total count to over 30. A major focus of these funds is how to measure the environmental impact of sustainable ocean investing. In other recent news, a variety of blue bonds have come to market that involve debt-for-nature swaps, sovereigns and corporations, and Rockefeller Capital Management and KraneShares now offer an ocean engagement themed Exchange-Traded Fund (KSEA).

On the investor side, oceans made their debut on the plenary stage at the GIIN’s annual conference in Copenhagen, where discussions covered the proverbial waterfront, from ecosystem conservation to coastal resilience to blended finance to nuclear sharks. We also saw increased interest in the ocean sector from “terrestrial” investors. For example, sustainable agriculture funds are beginning to look at aquaculture as an attractive adjacent opportunity to their core focus.

Coral reef under the sea

A towering Acropora coral, one of the hundreds of coral reef species that help support up to 25% of all marine life

The upcoming COP28 will seek to capitalise on this surge of ocean interest and activity. Notably, oceans will be included in the COP28 thematic programme for the first time, with a special focus on 9th December. Together with an array of ocean events, gatherings and presentations at different pavilions, this represents a substantial increase in the ocean’s presence in global climate conversations and solutions.

Read more: Baroness Scotland and Markus Müller: a call for action at COP28

One of the highlights of COP28 will be the return of the Ocean Pavilion, which will bring diverse stakeholders together in a dedicated space within COP’s “Blue Zone” for its second year. The organizing partners, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, will lead 32 partners through two weeks of events. The Pavilion programming is structured by ten themes organised under three tracks: Changing Ocean, Climate Consequences, and Future Ocean.

A pod of dolphins swimming in the sea

A pod of charismatic dolphins swimming in the shallows. Overfishing and bycatch are major issues for our oceans

The Pavilion is meant to inspire ocean-focused solutions through 70+ panel sessions, meetings and in-depth discussions. We are particularly excited about the “Blue Economy and Finance” theme, which explores the role that finance can play in ensuring that the ocean can continue to protect and provide for human societies in the coming decades. For example, Margaret Leinen, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will moderate a panel, Frontloading Equity in Financing Coastal Climate Resilience, exploring questions such as: How can we scale climate finance to reduce climate risks, speed recoveries, and reap the benefits of resilience? And how can our quantification of the financial costs of climate change be redesigned to yield equitable outcomes?

Despite all the headwinds, we are hoping for positive progress over the next weeks in Dubai.

Ted Janulis is Founder & Principal, Investable Oceans

Co-written with Helena Janulis, Business Development and Special Projects, Investable Oceans

All photos by Morgan Bennett-Smith

Find out more: www.investableoceans.com

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Reading time: 4 min
People sitting at tables in front of a large window overlooking a city
A pedestrian area with white parasols and a view of a city

Adrian Bridge, opened Porto’s Cultural District, WOW, in 2020

Starting his career in the British Cavalry Regiment, Adrian Bridge moved to Portugal in 1994 and is now CEO of The Fladgate Partnership, which produces Taylor, Fonseca, Fonseca-Guimaraens, and Croft Ports. Here, Bridge speaks to LUX’s Leaders and Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh about being a driving force behind wine tourism in Porto and developing the city’s new Cultural District WOW
a man in a suit holding a glass of port

Adrian Bridge

LUX: What do you think your training at Sandhurst taught you?
Adrian Bridge: The military teaches a great deal about leadership and confidence. You also learn to make decisions based on the available information, no matter how imperfect. However, in planning action it is in the details where success lies. That requires breaking down a problem to its parts and thinking through all of the details. I believe that all business is about the detail and that is where success lies.

LUX: How would you say this has influenced your dynamic style of leadership?
AB: The moto of Sandhurst is ‘Serve to Lead’ and I strongly believe in leading from the front. This creates a company culture where everything should be possible. I do not ask people to do things that I would not do myself. I think that this allows us to push forward, to take risks, to do things that others might not attempt.

A bar with a decorated ceilings

Angel’s Share is the name given for evaporation process that takes place when wine is ageing in barrels. It is also the name of the WOW wine bar

LUX: Why is the house so good at innovating?
AB: To me, innovation is all about pushing boundaries. To remain at the top, you simply can’t sit still. You have to continuously question, push and evolve or someone will overtake you.

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Established in 1692, we are one of the oldest companies in the world simply because we don’t sit still. We are continuously expanding and innovating to appeal to both new and existing audiences. We have a reputation for quality and excellence that has been built up over time and continues to be sustained through the generations.

One of our best examples of innovation has to be the creation of Croft Pink; the first ever Rosé Port. We launched this product in 2008 with the goal to introduce Port wine to a younger generation. In 2011 we continued to expand this concept and launched a canned “ready to drink”- Rosé tonic.

 grapes in boxes and woman picking through them

The Fladgate Partnership produces Taylor, Fonseca, Fonseca-Guimaraens, and Croft Ports

LUX: Oporto is already a UNESCO World Heritage City, so what was your vision for WOW?
AB: Porto is a beautiful city full of history, charm and culture – all of great significance to Portugal’s identity. The vision of WOW was to bring a totally new set of cultural concepts to Porto and in this way offer quality content to the region.

We wanted this to be a game-changing space for both locals and travellers that really celebrates the culture, gastronomy, history and industries of Portugal. WOW is as educational as it is fun. To achieve this, we needed to make sure this was a dynamic district that featured regular exhibitions, unique events and seasonal experiences.

A lit up walkway with rocks on either side

The District is over 55,000sqm and includes 8 museums and experiences and 11 restaurants and bars

LUX: What does an immersive experience offer that can complement the traditional vineyard visit?
AB: One of the reasons WOW originally came to be was in response to the booming number of visitors coming to Porto – demand that we helped to create by building The Yeatman – and the lack of experiences that Porto had to offer. To appeal to this market, we continuously try to ensure that there is something new for people to do and see in the district. Technology really allows us to engage with guests in a more interesting and meaningful way.

After the traditional vineyard visit, I would definitely suggest spending a day at WOW. It’s a good idea to choose one or two museums, do a workshop at The Wine School or at The Chocolate Story – the chocolate museum, enjoy a typical dish in one of our restaurants, appreciate the sunset in our Angel’s Share bar while drinking a Port Tonic and stay to be amused by the video mapping in our main square.

steel factory with chocolate dripping

The Chocolate Story Museum

LUX: What is a sustainable vineyard model and how are you working to secure the future of viticulture?
AB: We are committed to protecting the environment and the future of our vineyards and the Douro Valley where our family has produced Port wine for centuries.

Our sustainable model incorporates a number of techniques and strategies which work together to create a balanced, diversified and sustainable vineyard environment. The basis of the model is the construction of narrow terraces each of which supports only one row of vines.

People sitting at tables in front of a large window overlooking a city

The view from Angel Share’s Wine Bar

This model was awarded the prestigious BES Biodiversity Prize in 2009, which recognises achievement in the fields of conservation and environmental sustainability.

In order to encourage industry change on a global level we established the Porto Protocol – the wine industry’s climate action network. Since our first summit in 2018, we have brought together more than 230 wine and wine adjacent companies from 22 countries to share solutions to combat climate change in the wine industry.

LUX: This year you have opened a new museum with a ground-breaking exhibition from TATE at the Atkinson Museum, what was the strategy behind that?
AB: The vision of WOW is to bring a totally new set of cultural concepts to Porto. The new exhibitions, especially the Atkinson Museum, reinforce this destination as a “must visit” hub for international travellers.

At the centre of WOW is the Atkinson Museum. Originally built in 1760, we have meticulously restored and modernised the space to meet international museum standards and attract exhibitions from the international art pool.

A sculpture of a hand pouring wine into a glass

Adrian Bridge has a private collection of 2,000 vessels and glasses which tell the story of  the evolution of drinking vessels from earliest civilisations to the present day with some of the collection dates back to 7,000BC

Our most recent exhibition, The Dynamic Eye was produced by the TATE Collection and featured over 100 works from 63 artists – this was the largest number of works travelling from TATE to Portugal. This is an amazing example of the quality of major exhibitions we are bringing to Gaia.

The idea is to bring new and different major international exhibitions, such as The Dynamic Eye, every year.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

LUX: How can cultural philanthropy shine a light on the house values?
AB: As a family business, we are built on a set of strong shared values. We are continuously seeking opportunities that align with our core values. At the moment, one of my key priorities is sustainability in the wine industry and coming up with new ways to create new industry practices.

a blue map on the floor in a room that looks like a boat

Porto Region Across the Ages Museum

LUX: What would you like to be remembered for?
AB: When I came to live in Porto in 1994, I came to into a Port Wine Trade that was very traditional. Our company helped to consolidate that industry and lead it forward, not least with the innovation of various new styles of Porto. This was an achievement and in doing this I hope that I will be remembered for helping to enhance one of the greatest wines and wine regions in the world. This also includes putting Porto on the map as a destination and through that work we have helped to stimulate the development of the town and create jobs and wealth. However, I will probably just be remembered for altering the city centre through the construction of The Yeatman and WOW.

Find out more: fladgatepartnership.com

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YKK’s NATULON® Mechanically Recycled Zip is made with recycled yarn and post-consumer plastic bottles

The amount of zips produced by YKK each year far outstrips the number of people currently on Earth. So how can a company mass producing and growing at such scale stay true to values of circularity and sustainability? LUX speaks to Jim Reed, CEO of YKK America, about why he believes cost and speed need not be barriers to a sustainable business

LUX: Can you explain the cycle of goodness and how it relates to the YKK philosophy?
Jim Reed: The cycle of goodness – meaning that no one prospers without rendering benefit to others – was developed by our founder, Tadao Yoshida. One of his inspirations was Andrew Carnegie, a late 19th century early 20th century steel tycoon, who had a philosophy about a business’ obligation to society. As a young man, Tadao Yoshida got hold of a translated copy of Andrew Carnegie’s biography. He was inspired by Andrew Carnegie’s words and he decided that was the philosophy that should drive us. He was always entrepreneurial, but it wasn’t about how wealthy he could get, it was about how he could help. He wanted to contribute to society.

YKK is used by hundreds of major clothing companies including The North Face, Patagonia, Levi’s and Nike

LUX: Your president, Hiroaki Ōtani, said the company’s immediate vision is for ‘better products at a lower cost and greater speed, more sustainably’. How do you plan to chase growth while also racing towards carbon neutrality?
JR: President Ōtani is talking about getting the right materials for the right products to the right customer at the right time. If you think about those concepts, you’re not overproducing. We’re producing over 10 billion zippers in a year, but our objective is that, at the end of the day, every zipper has a perfect spot and nothing gets wasted. On top of that, he talks about better products, lower cost, greater speed, and more sustainability. If we can be more efficient, and some of the obstacles to sustainability – cost – can be reduced, then a sustainable product can match the price of the less sustainable cheaper product and you can match that substitution more easily.

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President Ōtani reorganised our company in a number of different ways five years ago. He created what we call the Technology Innovation Centre. He took all the smartest people in our company and put them in the Technology Innovation Centre, where they were working on pure research, not product development. Innovation and technology have always been an important part of YKK, and particularly now with climate change issues and sustainability, we all need to be making significant changes.

Beyond zips, YKK produces a variety of other products such as snaps, buttons, buckles, and textiles for apparel and industrial use

LUX: How far is the company’s adoption of renewables impacting carbon emissions?
JR: We’re doing very well in that area. We reported at the end of the last fiscal year that we had reduced scope 1 and scope 2 CO2 emissions by almost 47% against our base year. What’s even more significant is that we’re not talking about CO2 emissions per zipper – we’re actually growing our production. Even though our production is increasing, we know our CO2 emissions have to be reduced, and we were able to reduce them significantly. Our 2018 level of CO2 emissions is our base level, by 2030 we’ll cut that in half, and by 2050 we’ll be carbon neutral. Around the world we’re looking at about 32 facilities which are currently using 100% renewable electricity, and very actively working to change the others. That can be a challenge because every facility has a different footprint and has a different source of electricity. But we are continuing to try to find a variety of different mechanisms to employ this.

LUX: What are the pillars for sustainable strategies for textiles packaging and waste management?
JR: For textiles, the main thing is to switch over to recycled thread. We call that NATULON. YKK had been offering to use recycled thread for over 20 years, and we’ve probably had the product for 25 years. Now, the market desires it, and so now we are able to switch over to 100% recycled textile. 26% of our products last year were using it, and that’s going to grow rapidly. We hope that will get up to 41% by next year. We’re working on a complete switchover.

YKK produces more than 3 million kilometers of zips every year

When we talk about waste management, you think about inputs coming into the factory and products coming out, and waste as a by-product of that. You put that waste back into your process. The objective is to get inputs coming into your factory and the only thing that comes out is the product. ECO-DYE technology uses CO2 instead of water to colour the zipper tape. That removes water from the process, which removes the need to take dye out of the water. We also have something called AcroPlating. If you get rid of the need to apply the bad chemicals, then you don’t have to worry about managing the waste on the back end.

Read more: Salomon CEO Franco Fogliato on environmental responsibility in business

LUX: Can you tell us about the partnership between YKK and the Monitor for Circular Fashion? Do you think it could lead to systemic change within the fashion industry?
JR: These partnerships are really important because, just like the UN statement on climate change or the Sustainable Development Goals or the Fashion Charter, all of these statements and actions can really scope the objective to solve the problem. It gives us all targets, and then when we join the Charter, we make promises that we have to stand by. Those are extremely important, because we all need to be speaking the same language and talking about the same objectives. With those statements, the fashion industry can declare to the people of the world that we’re moving in an environmentally-friendly direction and can get the support of their customers, which gives us the inspiration to innovate into that change. Once those goals are clear, then industry can innovate towards it and solve the problem just like we’ve been able to solve any problem when we’re focused on it.

All images courtesy of YKK

Find out more: www.ykkfastening.com/sustainability

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Reading time: 5 min

Small Pacific island nations like Tuvalu are at most risk of rising sea levels due to climate change; COP27 last year created a Loss and Damage Fund to alleviate their plight, but no funding has yet been forthcoming

There is a major issue with meeting our sustainability goals: the financial and structural support is, in many cases, just not there. Deutsche Bank’s Markus Müller explains to Darius Sanai what needs to happen to close the gap

LUX: What is the sustainable financing gap and what is the biggest problem we face for bridging it?
Markus Müller: It is usually defined as the difference between the cost of meeting United Nations Sustainable Development goals (SDGs) and the amount of investment actually being delivered. Big numbers are common here but we need to put them in perspective – the latest OECD estimated the annual financing gap is 3.9 trillion USD, but this is much smaller than global GDP of around 100 trillion USD. The biggest problem isn’t the size of the gap, but making sure that investment projects and systems are viable. Bringing down borrowing costs and making sure there’s a level playing field for investments are big parts of this.

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LUX: Financing sustainable development should be a priority. But is short-term thinking still making it difficult?
MM: I wouldn’t blame the sustainable finance gap simply on short-term thinking. I think most people are rightly uncomfortable with how close we are to the planetary boundaries, and this is spurring action: we aren’t just leaving this to future generations. Fixing the finance gap now needs innovation, an ability to break free of current ways of thinking and a clear view of where we want to be. Returns and cost of capital remain key issues.

Houston, Texas is attracting new technological investment due to incentives created by the US Inflation Reduction Act, which is in effect a green subsidy

LUX: You have observed that our international social infrastructure for dealing with global collaborative action (the UN, and the economic institutions arising from Bretton Woods) are from another era. Do they need to be updated?
MM: Existing international institutions provide good framework to support transformation. They can cooperate in new ways with other bodies if necessary – note President Macron’s Global Financial Pact summit earlier this year. This is a matter of evolution, not replacement. Look at the discussions, for example, around how to repurpose IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDR, invented back in 1969) to support biodiversity and other initiatives.

LUX: The climate crisis – or triple planetary crisis – requires global nations’ collaboration on a probably unprecedented scale. But is such collaboration now more difficult in our increasingly multipolar world?
MM: Collaboration is fragile by nature, but it is still possible in a multipolar world. We start from a base point where the world’s resources – financial, material, natural – are unevenly distributed. Developing economies have more physical resources (for example, metal and minerals deposits) so it may make sense for them to collaborate. But if developed economies want to participate in these discussions, they must deliver more real support. This is often lacking: for example, there have been no inflows into the Loss and Damage Fund agreed on at last year’s COP.

At COP27 in Egypt in 2022, world leaders agreed to take tangible steps towards alleviating the climate crisis, but it remains to be seen whether they will be executed

LUX: Are you optimistic that the US, EU, Russia and China (for example) will agree on and enact workable policy solutions to counter the climate crisis? What would be significant markers of progress?
MM: Yes, I am. We have seen one important, recent example of this: major technology disputes between the U.S. and China did not stop the two sides meeting for climate talks. This shows that environmental issues do not have to become a destructive bargaining chip in broader trade or investment disputes, although we should not ignore the fact that environmental operating standards do have an impact on competitiveness and thus trade tensions. For me, the key marker of progress is continued discussion and agreement to stay within overall multilateral environmental policy targets.

LUX: If we are indeed entering a more unstable era (in terms of global climate and related issues like biodiversity), do the fundamentals of policy making need to change in order to accommodate constant change?
MM: I think this is a matter of learning how to overcome unforeseen challenges, rather than simply accepting instability. As our understanding of environmental issues and how to tackle them gets better, policy will change. The fundamental shift may involve us stopping seeing policymaking as proceeding along an inflexible straight line. We need to be more flexible and accept that policy may zig-zag. Policymakers’ ability to adopt to changing knowledge to find optimum solutions should be seen as an indication of strength, not weakness.

China, one of the world’s biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, has recently cleaned up its urban pollution and has agreed to restart formal climate change talks with the U.S. as of November 2023

LUX: Past successes like the Montreal Protocol were one-time events. How can we ensure more sustained policy progress?
MM: I don’t think we should think of policy advances as one-time “successes”. In reality, we often don’t know the real impact of policy agreements for many years. Some agreements that are hailed as successes at the time – for example, the Aichi goals of 2011 – have subsequently proved insufficient to meet the challenge at hand. The importance of agreements is really that they drive us, one uneven step at a time, towards better environmental outcomes.

Read more: Marküs Muller on the economy and biodiversity

LUX: How important are subsidy and protection programmes for transition technologies, and can they be harmful?
MM: It’s important to distinguish between different sorts of policy support. There are good and long-standing arguments for the support of “infant industries”, in the economics jargon, but we have to be careful that this does not slide into protectionism as these industries mature. U.S. support via the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is giving us a good preview of transition policy support, and what really determines where new industries locate and thrive. (Consider why Houston is attracting new technologies and Miami is losing out, for example.) Ultimately, it’s all about kickstarting specific industries that will really work.

Markus Müller is Chief Investment Officer of ESG & Global Head of Chief Investment Office at Deutsche Bank’s Private Bank

Find out more:  deutschewealth.com/esg

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A woman sitting on a char with a another woman resting on the armrest.
A woman sitting on a char with a another woman resting on the armrest.

Aurelie Cauchy and Leslie Ramos, founders of The Twentieth © Juan Cuartas Rueda

Leslie Ramos and Aurelie Cauchy are co-founders of The Twentieth, a pioneering art advisory that focuses on supporting the arts and culture. Following the launch of Ramos’ book, Philanthropy in the Arts: A Game of Give and Take, Samantha Welsh speaks to the founders of The Twentieth about the new generation of philanthropists emerging from around the world, with different motivations and priorities and what the future holds for arts philanthropy given the rapidly changing landscape

LUX: What compelled you to layer arts philanthropy onto traditional arts advisory?
Leslie Ramos: The simple answer is that we spotted a gap in the market. We saw more and more aspiring collectors coming to the art world eager to support the ecosystem they admired, but they would find that although there were many people helping them buy and sell, there was almost nobody actively encouraging them to give back and helping them to do it.

Aurelie Cauchy: Moreover, we also feel that the art world in general is becoming increasingly dominated by the art market, focusing very strongly on sales, sales, and more sales. We wanted to build something that tried to push back against that a bit and in a small way remind people that a good collector is someone who also cares about the art world ecosystem.

LUX: Does arts philanthropy today bear any resemblance to its origins?
LR: The basic system of the most privileged in society actively supporting something they care about hasn’t changed much. What does change all the time are the underlying dynamics, like people’s motivations. We are seeing a real shift today in the role status has in philanthropy, with younger philanthropists being much less keen to have their names carved above doorways, for example.

AC: The pandemic has also reinforced the desire to help locally, with a focus on causes such as health and poverty, at a moment when social justice became more prominent than ever. Without taking anything away from other extremely pressing causes, one of the missions that we feel we have is to show philanthropists how supporting the arts can be an effective way of addressing these other societal causes and something that should sit as part of their wider philanthropic portfolio.

people sitting around a coffee table hosting a panel discussion

The European Fine Art Foundation panel discussion on next gen collecting and philanthropy at the Art Business Conference in 2023 © David Owens

LUX: Why is arts-funding important amidst crises in education and healthcare provision?
AC: It is true that causes like poverty, health, and children will always, and perhaps should always, be more important causes for philanthropy than the arts, but that doesn’t mean the arts should be ignored. For one, art has incredible power within societies. As Leslie wrote in her book, ‘The power of art shows us that humans can dream and think about the world not only as it is, but as it could be’, and in this regard the arts are particularly powerful in conveying important messages about the world and society.

LR: One example that I think is quite potent and that I tell our clients, is to look at what the philanthropist Jeff Skoll has done with his film production company Participant Media. Almost every film in the past 20 years, that has spurred real conversation about important issues facing society, has been funded by Skoll. The collector and philanthropist Sarah Arison also described this very well when I interviewed her for my book. She said that, for her, we must change the way we think of the arts, not as siloed disciplines but collaborative and interconnected, and this is crucial to bringing awareness to all sorts of issues.

In the end, it is critical for people to really care about what they support. This is why the experiential and social part of the art world is actually quite valuable – the events, galas, previews, and perks offered to supporters are not only quite fun, but they help people learn and be more comfortable.

It is also why we guide (or drag!) our clients to artists’ studios, museums, and non-profits of all sizes to really understand what their money can do and reassure them that it will be well spent.

A gold tent outside

Jesus Rafael Soto, Penetrable, 1992. © Archives Fondation Maeght

LUX: You also advise museums and non-profits, artists, and some brands as well?
LR: Yes, we do a lot of work with museums and non-profits, advising them on all sorts of things, but mostly around improving their financial resilience or helping them execute their vision. Aurelie has been doing a lot of work with the Centre Pompidou, expanding its international circle of donors, especially throughout the US, to support the enrichment of its collections. At the same time, I have been working closely with the Fondation Maeght in the South of France, helping them build their first patrons’ scheme with supporters from across the world, and advising them on their capital campaign for a new extension due in 2024.

AC: Our work with artists and brands is not so dissimilar to what we do with collectors. Often successful artists get to a point when they want to give back and we help them build their philanthropic initiatives, like foundations and artist residencies. Likewise, many brands, particularly luxury brands, are looking for genuine engagement with the arts, whether it’s through strategic collaborations or philanthropic initiatives that resonate with their ethos and serve their client-centric strategy, corporate social responsibility, and branding.

LUX: How do you work with individual clients in terms of evaluating their intentions and guiding them?
AC: It varies slightly from client to client. One thing is enthusiasts taking their first steps in the art world, perhaps starting a collection, or beginning to get involved with institutions in a meaningful way. Theirs is more a process of discovery initially, seeing what resonates. Whereas long-term supporters who want to take their philanthropy to the next level and perhaps build their own foundation, for them it’s more about refining and executing their vision.

The common thread is that we view our role as a catalyst, helping our clients become respected forces in the arts and culture world. This means being independent, unbiased, and transparent, which is why, for example, we do not charge commissions on transactions like a lot of advisors do. We would rather that our clients can trust us and be sure our advice is completely independent than constantly feeling pressured to spend.

The other side of the coin is that we only work with clients who are, or want to be, philanthropic. We are very clear with that and we are different from most arts advisors in that regard.

A woman with borwn hair holding a pink boo by a table stacked with pink books.

Leslie Ramos at the launch of ‘Philanthropy in the Arts, A Game of Give and Take’, published by Lund Humphries in collaboration with Sotheby’s Institute of Art

LUX: Are there barriers and what is the approach to impact measurement?
LR: While measuring impact to some extent is valuable, it is much more so to identify non-profits who know what they are doing and whose mission aligns with the giver and then trust them to do what they do best. I think the best arts philanthropists instinctively understand the positive effect the arts can have. So many studies have shown the proven positive effects on mental health as well as the positive economic impact on communities.

LUX: How are newer players influencing codes and interactions?
AC: It’s difficult to summarise because there are new people coming to the arts from all over the place. Of course, a lot of the attention recently has been on the tech money, but although it might be a stereotype to say that tech millionaires have no interest in arts and culture, it does seem, for now, to be the case. There are exceptions of course, like Sean Parker’s Parker Foundation or Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg’s Shah Garg Foundation. Both are important collectors and philanthropists from that world doing truly wonderful work.

One of the most interesting areas of the world that we are keeping our eyes on is South-East Asia and the new generation of collectors in places like Singapore, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Indonesia especially is an incredibly charitable society with a high value placed on the arts. India has also recently seen the rise of its UHNW population, with first generation wealth and inter-generational givers alike showing great interest in strengthening the philanthropic culture and infrastructure.

LUX: Where is private philanthropy leading national conversations through art discourse?
LR: Private support can often act faster than governments and be more curious and less risk averse. This means that in countries where there is yet to be a state-backed cultural support system, philanthropists are often key to giving artists and non-profits the resources they need. After all, artists can be found everywhere, and thank goodness for that!

A lit up house in the evening with a pool and trees around it

Eacheve, the independent non-profit organisation dedicated to creating new opportunities for Ecuadorian artists © Intemperie Studio

Take, for example, the work being done by the Ecuadorian arts foundation EACHEVE. For a few years now, the founder, Eliana Hidalgo, has been determined to give Ecuadorian artists global exposure and opportunities, supporting residencies, exhibitions, publications and soon a permanent exhibition space in Guayaquil. EACHEVE even published the first ever compendium of contemporary Ecuadorian artists, a book that has become a global reference and the first of its kind. This kind of work is where philanthropy can take a lead, and when done well, it can also be ‘contagious’, encouraging others to get behind a great cause and ultimately influence state decisions.

LUX: How can the State incentivise and direct giving?
LR: State support is critical in providing a supportive environment for philanthropy, and this doesn’t just mean providing tax incentives or funding matching programmes. Although they do work, it’s more about providing a framework and actively incentivising more philanthropists more holistically within your country.

Singapore is a great example of this. They have extended their (massive) 250% tax deductions for donations to 2026 to foster a culture of philanthropy, but it is combined with their SG Arts Plan (2023-2027), developed by the National Arts Council, which is designed to invigorate the art world more generally.

This is something I am hoping future UK governments will start improving because recently encouraging philanthropy in the UK has been neglected, in my opinion. In part, this is because it is viewed as a rather unfavourable thing to support politically. Having launched a successful £80m scheme to encourage more philanthropy in 2010, since then the current UK government has done very little. As things stand, the wealthiest in UK society only give a miserly 1% of their income to charity every year.

A building with a tube slide across it

Centre Pompidou

LUX: Is there a downside to state intervention?
LR: Without wanting to get too caught up in a rather complex topic, there are obviously issues with censorship and oppression of artists and creatives in many parts of the world. Equally, there are many examples of populist governments taking control of museums and cultural organisations by putting their cronies in charge.

But I still believe that perhaps the most damaging thing a state can do is be ambivalent. This was often the case in Italy in the past, where especially state museums were resting on their laurels and simply stagnant. In 2014, the newspapers in Italy gleefully reported that the restaurant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York made more money in a year than all of Italy’s museums combined. But since then, new government initiatives, the growth in corporate sponsorship from big Italian companies, particularly the luxury sector, and a general sense of key people wanting to put in more effort, means things are slowly going in the right direction.

LUX: How optimistic are you that arts philanthropy can catalyse a better world?
AC: Arts philanthropy is vital to fill the gaps, supporting artists, art education, and art institutions that struggle to secure adequate funding from just government and commercial sources.

Take arts institutions, from leading museums to small non-profits, who are the many beating hearts of the art world, it is important to allow them to continue their invaluable work and survive. The former Met CEO Dan Weiss wrote a wonderful book on the subject, saying that “museums have played a vital role in our culture, drawing on Enlightenment ideals in shaping ideas, advancing learning, fostering community, and providing spaces of beauty and permanence”.

A woman wearing an orange and pink top speaking to a man sitting on a couch

Aaron Cezar, founding director of the Delfina Foundation in conversation with Leslie Ramos

Arts philanthropy is there for these institutions to ensure they can navigate a challenging landscape with financial resilience and be sustainable, relevant, and impactful in the long run, and in the end, it helps create a more vibrant and diverse society where everyone, regardless of background or financial means, can have access to art and culture.

LR: At the same time, I would like to finish on a sentiment that was shared by Darren Walker, the President of the Ford Foundation, in a recent interview. Walker, a great advocate for philanthropy, had come across something Martin Luther King Jr. had written, where King had pointed out that although commendable, philanthropists should recognise the economic injustice that makes philanthropy necessary. “King was saying that, yes, the work of philanthropy must be about charity and about generosity”, Walker said. “But it should also be about justice and dignity … It requires of the philanthropist an interrogation of our own complicity in the very problems we are seeking to solve.”

Find out more: thetwentieth.com

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Karen Sack aims to drive investment into coastal and ocean natural capital to combat climate change

Karen Sack

It is under three weeks until the start of one of the most important climate summits in history. At the end of November, world leaders gather in the UAE for COP 28, an ever-more urgent climate crisis looming amid growing geopolitical instability. Here, Karen Sack, head of a major organisation devoted to driving major finance to ocean-related sustainability initiatives, outlines what needs to happen – and what she fears may transpire instead

LUX: Speaking as Executive Director for the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA) as well bringing in your own views, what do you think should happen at COP 28?
Karen Sack: This year we have seen the number of climate disasters ratcheting up. We are so close to that 1.5 degree increase of the world’s temperature. September has smashed all the records in terms of the amount of warming, with a 0.5 degree Celsius rate of change. From our perspective, there are five key focus areas for us at COP 28.

The first and most important is that we have to keep that 1.5 degree target alive. That is the Paris Agreement target, adopted at COP 21. It is absolutely critical on all kinds of scientific levels, in terms of tipping points as well the existential reality, particularly for small island developing states, and for the potential impacts on coastal communities in developing countries as well as everywhere around the world. That should be the absolute focus of this meeting and the intent should be on how to do that, in terms of outcome for the COP.

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Secondly, and very importantly, is that as we look at the real need to scale down emissions to phase out fossil fuels, we also need to recognise that a liveable planet, particularly a liveable planet for humans, requires the regeneration of ocean environment. Nature needs to be at the heart of the story, in terms of addressing the biodiversity and the climate crises, because together we need to address those two issues.

The third key element is recognising that if we are going to address mitigation, adaptation and resilience – three of the core elements of the COP – as well as bring in nature, we have to focus on regeneration. We have to move beyond sustainability, which we predominantly focused on in the past. If what we do now is just sustainable, that is insufficient. We have to address mitigation, adaptation, resilience and regeneration. We need to significantly upscale sustainable finance and investment. From our perspective, that needs to be scaled into blue nature – into the ocean, as a critical carbon sink and biodiversity reservoir, as well as a key source of livelihood.

Open ocean carbon- capture is an emerging technology involving extracting and storing carbon dioxide by using nature or artificial solutions

The fourth thing we need to look for regarding our focus on maintaining resilient coastal communities, is to ensure that where investments are going to be made in coastal areas that there are high quality safeguards and guardrails for those investments, so that those communities can thrive and that investments made are made with the full consent and engagement of those communities.

Fifth and finally, what is really key to get out of COP28 is to establish that there are certain things which should not be investable propositions. In the ocean space, that means not investing into offshore oil and gas or emerging sectors like sea-bed mining that could be incredibly destructive, and for which the full suite of impacts are as yet unknown.

From our perspective, there should be an absolute, precautionary pause on any investment into this potential new sector until there is much more information, better controls and better safeguards in place. The question remains as to whether it should happen at all, but there should at least be a pause until 2030 for sea-bed mining. My view is that it should not happen at all.

LUX: You have said before that there is enough talk but not enough action. What needs to be done around sustainable finance to make that gap close?
KS: Fundamentally, there must be an agreement to move forward on the loss and damages fund. There have been ongoing negotiations, but this needs to be sorted out and settled so that funds can begin to flow into that loss and damages fund and then to the communities most affected.

Secondly, we have got to close the gap on adaptation finance; the UN Environment Programme released a report just this past week which showed that the finance gap, for adaptation finance, is 50% higher than it was previously thought. That means we have got to start looking at the hundreds of billions of dollars that have got a flow from the public as well as the private sector.

The biggest risk that we are all exposed to is inaction. The more we can do earlier in the process to drive financing into adaptation and resilience, as well as mitigation, the better, and the less costly that will be in the long term. That is key to closing those adaptation gaps. And in the ocean space, working with partners and the high-level climate champions, we have identified five ocean breakthroughs which need to be addressed.

LUX: Is there a danger of double-counting or under-counting?
KS: It is essential that governments start to work across treaties rather than keeping climate and ocean and finance treaties separate. We need to start to think about what is needed to address the issues across the climate and the nature space to prevent under-counting or double-counting.

LUX: What will incentivise governments to do that? What needs to happen?
KS: In part, it is putting numbers on the table: what is the need and what is needed to address it.  Finance ministries are starting to identify these numbers and address what these gaps mean. Hopefully that begins to draw the discussion out of ministerial silos and begin to bring an all of government approach to the table in addressing them. Once that begins to happen, then it also requires Ministerial level engagement and how key ministers can get together more informally to address those issues. I know that a couple of months ago in Vancouver, the Canadian Minister for Environment and Climate Change flagged the need for ministers to come together across these treaties to address some of these issues. This is just a starting point though, because the issues we are facing extend beyond what governments can do and have to involve development finance institutions and the private sector too.

Due to climate change, coastal communities are now more than ever under threat from flooding and severe storms which threaten their infrastructure and economy

LUX: Is there an issue of a big difference in policy between more progressive governments, such as Canada and the EU, and others with very large economies who are less close to enacting such change?
KS: Absolutely. There are also fossil fuel economies which are in the middle of all of this. One of the issues is that, since the UNFCCC started its work, countries have been – and remain – defined according to their different economic statuses. Yet there are countries which are large emitters now, and countries that historically have had a large carbon footprint. There are also economies that are fossil-fuel driven economies and have contributed to significant fossil fuel emissions, either by themselves or through selling their fossil fuels on the open market. The reality of the challenges that the world now faces is that rather than arguing over who has done what for how long, the focus needs to shift towards how each of these actors can play a role in building and financing resilience and adaptation, and mitigating harm. We have to think beyond the traditional brackets that different countries have been put into, because this is an existential crisis for all of us.

LUX: Do you see authentic intent among enough governments, or are some just talking the talk?
KS: This is part of the challenge. We have seen so many significant climate events this year which you would think would bring people to the table with urgency, focus and determination, but that is not happening across the board. This is where the private sector needs to come in to help move things forward. There has, of course, been push-back in some private sector quarters as well. But the reality is that if we project forward to revenue and growth impacts or profit margins, not just over the next quarter or few years, but to five and ten years down the track, the potential costs of inaction are staggering. These are no longer issues for the next generation, they must be addressed now. We have a choice as humans. The planet will be fine. It is us who are going to be harmed. We choose whether we act now or we delay but, as I said earlier, both cost and risk become exponential the more we delay. We should be focusing all of our attention on acting now.

LUX: Is there a risk that the more we innovate to offset, or capture, the more we have permission to emit?
KS: Absolutely, which is why we have really got to focus on reducing and phasing out fossil fuel emissions as quickly as possible, and we have got to think about the most cost-effective, efficient ways to invest in adaptation and resilience. Let’s shift those investments into sustainable, regenerative renewables, such as wind, solar and tidal power, and let’s focus on investing into nature and helping to build resilient, natural ecosystems which are also the most effective carbon sinks that are on Earth right now. These are incredibly effective both in the functions they fulfill, as well as the costs that they incur.

Karen Sack has previously led global efforts to create a new UN treaty for high seas biodiversity

LUX: Do you think that large-scale, open-ocean carbon-capture – which is currently unregulated, untested but has the potential for enormous scale – should be focused on, or it a diversion?
KS: I think that there will always be untested technologies and potential large-scale solutions, which will be put on the table as a panacea to resolve our issues. There is no harm in asking scientists to explore the viability of some of those mechanisms, to understand the costs, the potential collateral damage and impacts of them before we move forward with them, but thinking that we can chase rainbows or invent unicorns that will solve our problems, while letting everything else fall apart at the seams, does not seem like a sensible solution.

However, there are tried and tested approaches which we know will work. We know that not using fossil fuels is the most critical step that has to be taken to mitigate the impacts of climate change. We know that regenerating and restoring nature is very important for addressing elements of biodiversity as well as the climate crisis. We must work on these two things and build adaptation and resilience – as quickly as possible – by focusing on investing into renewables and investing into nature, and ensuring that government policies and investments from governments and the private sector enable this.

Read more: Jean-Baptiste Jouffray on the future of the world’s oceans 

LUX: What do you fear will happen at COP 28?
KS: There are a lot of initiatives which are being taken forward, and discussions happening, at COP 28. All of them are taking place in the face of significant geopolitical change and challenge. My biggest fear is that the international community does not move far and fast enough and as quickly as possible at this COP, and that the interests of the fossil fuel sector take hold. We cannot go there again. We do not have the time and we certainly do not have the space. We need – as we say in the ocean world – all hands on deck! We must move swiftly. We need action, and we need it now. That is what we need out of this COP: concerted action at speed and at scale.

The 28th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP) is set to take place between the 30th November and 12th December 2023

Karen Sack is Executive Director of the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance

Deutsche Bank was the first bank to join the Ocean Risk and Resilience Alliance

Lower three images by Isabella Fergusson

Read more: oceanriskalliance.org

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Reading time: 10 min
A woman wearing a black top standing next to a white and black wall
children in yellow tops playing with a big silver ball

ArtOutreach public sculpture tour for students

Mae Anderson, serves as the chairman of Art Outreach, a non-profit organisation committed to promoting art appreciation and nurturing the connections within Singapore’s art community. Mae’s contributions extend to her role as the Head of Philanthropy Services Asia at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, where she collaborates with clients to bring their philanthropic visions to life

LUX: How has your personal philanthropy informed your corporate role?
Mae Anderson: My experiences in the philanthropic sector have reinforced for me the importance of aligning business values with social responsibility. This is essential to benefit the communities we serve and to enhance the reputation and sustainable values of the organisation. Corporate philanthropy is not just a matter of financial contributions; it is about creating meaningful, sustainable change by strategically leveraging resources and expertise. I prioritise building strong relationships with nonprofits, community leaders, and clients who share our commitment to making a positive difference. This collaborative approach has proven instrumental in developing effective philanthropic strategies that maximise our impact.

A woman wearing a black top standing next to a white and black wall

Mae Anderson, , posed against a mural by Singaporean artist, Chris Chai

LUX: Why was Art Outreach founded and what were the early successes?
MA: Art Outreach was founded to introduce art appreciation into Singapore’s education system, particularly in elementary schools where the focus was primarily on art making, and where there was a lack of emphasis on art appreciation, compounded by a shortage of trained art teachers and limited exposure to the humanities. 20 years on, there have been significant changes in the education landscape In the early stages, our volunteers were trained to deliver free art lessons to local classrooms and played a crucial role in enriching students’ visual literacy and cultural awareness. These early efforts successfully addressed the need for art appreciation, fostering a greater understanding of cultural diversity and societal dynamics among young learners, addressing a crucial need in the education system while adapting to the changing educational landscape.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What is behind the wave of interest in cultural philanthropy in Singapore and the South Asia region?
MA: There are several interconnected factors. First, there is the desire to preserve and celebrate cultural heritage. In an increasingly globalised world, people recognise the importance of safeguarding and promoting their unique traditions, arts, and history, fostering a deeper connection to one’s roots and a sense of cultural pride. The region’s economic growth has played a pivotal role.

A man holding a film camera standing around people

Level Up by curator, John Tung, one of a series of professional development workshops run by Art Outreach. In this workshop, participants learned the finer points of art installation

The rise of the middle class with disposable income opens doors, and as people become more financially secure, they seek meaningful ways to give back to their communities and support cultural initiatives that resonate with their values and aspirations, further fuelling the interest in cultural philanthropy. Governments in the region have introduced policies and incentives to drive private investment into cultural projects and institutions. Further, cultural attractions draw tourists , enhancing exchequers and soft power, Finally, the emergence of the mega-wealthy 1%, catalyses support for cultural initiatives and leads collaborations.

blue flower lights hanging in the dark

Benedict Yu, from 生 Rebirth as part of 醉生夢死 erosion, his solo exhibition at Art Outreach in August 2021

LUX: How has Art Outreach evolved an ecosystem for all stakeholders?
MA: As explained, we began by seeding art education within local elementary schools set about creating an art landscape. We extended our reach to communities through public programmes, discussions, and tours. This made contemporary art more accessible and relatable to local audiences. We support emerging artists through initiatives like the IMPART Art Prize to offer holistic support and foster the development of artists championing Singaporean art.

Two women standing by a wooden table with objects in glass frames on the table

Artist, Berny Tan (left), and curator, Kirti Upadhyaya, against Berny’s artworks from Along The Lines Of – her solo exhibition at Art Outreach in August 2023

From 2024, our Art Outreach Summit will offer artists mentorship, networking opportunities, and a platform to showcase their work, as well as practical programmes such as installation and lighting. More strategically, we enter into public and private partnerships around events and activations. So we serve the range of stakeholders.

children in green and white uniform sitting on the floor with their hands in the air

ArtOutreach primary school classroom programme

LUX: What is the role for private collectors of contemporary art in Singapore?
MA: Private collectors are custodians of cultural heritage, preserving and showcasing contemporary artworks that provide insights into the evolution of artistic expression and cultural trends. Through their acquisitions, they are patrons of emerging talents and established names, pushing the boundaries of artistic expression, opening their homes or private exhibition spaces to the public, elevating the profile of Singaporean art on the global stage and fostering educational and cultural exchange. Finally, the donation of artworks or funds to cultural institutions and nonprofit organisations, has a lasting impact on the sustainability of the arts ecosystem.

people standing by an escalator on a mezzanin

ArtOutreach Art In Transit Tour, Promenade Station. This is a walking tour of the artworks installed in Singapore subway stations

LUX: How should art philanthropists plan so they give effectively?
MA: Effective art philanthropy begins with a clear mission and values aligned with the art landscape and national priorities. Philanthropists should thoroughly research organisations, projects, or artists that match the mission, and then identify gaps and areas where their contributions can make a difference. Establishing clear, measurable goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) can guide their philanthropic efforts and evaluate impact. Philanthropists can diversify their giving portfolio and consider strategic partnerships with like-minded organisations to amplify their impact and bring diverse perspectives.

Children wearing costumes

Art Outreach children’s art workshop

They should assume longterm commitment to foster lasting change and address evolving needs within the arts community. It is critical to implement systems for measuring impact, remain adaptable, and be responsive to changing circumstances or emerging needs in the arts landscape.

Read more: Aliya and Farouk Khan on the Malaysian contemporary art scene

Actively engaging with artists, cultural institutions, and the broader arts community allows philanthropists to stay connected, and they must adhere to ethical principles, be transparent, and respect artists’ rights. You should consider legacy and tax planning and remember that public engagement can inspire others to support the arts.

A woman playing with string on a tapestry hung on a wall

Textile Artist,Tiffany Loy, against her artworks from Lines In Space, her solo exhibition at Art Outreach in January 2023

LUX: How can connectivity and data help in scaling the impact regionally?
MA: Data analysis empowers philanthropists to understand specific regional needs and priorities, to identify areas where their contributions can maximise impacts, and to connect with local organisations and initiatives. By collecting and analysing data in real-time, they decide where best to allocate resources. By collaborating, donors leverage their resources more efficiently, engage directly with regional communities, scale effectively, advocate, share experience, measure impact, and together drive long term change.

LUX: What is your personal advice to a client embarking on their philanthropy journey?
MA: Trust in your passion and purpose. Philanthropy is about making a positive impact on the causes that matter most to you. Sustainable change takes time so persevere. Finally, stay humble and open to learning and let that inspire your growth as a philanthropist.

Find out more: artoutreachsingapore.org

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Reading time: 6 min
Diver in coral reef

Pristine Seas team member, Alan Friedlander, sampling in the remote reefs in the northernmost region of the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve

After a number of years writing about ocean conservation as an academic, Enric Sala decided he wanted to take a more active role in protecting our seas. Here he tells Trudy Ross about his Pristine Seas project, which combines exploration and research to conserve the world’s oceans

LUX: What inspired you to dedicate your career to researching and protecting marine ecosystems?
Enric Sala: As a little boy, I grew up dreaming to be an ocean explorer and swimming in the Mediterranean, which was pretty much devoid of life. But one day I dived in a marine reserve where fishing was banned, and there I saw all the abundance of life that was missing from the sea of my childhood. That day I understood that if we give nature space, it can heal itself – and decided to work on protecting the ocean.

LUX: You made the jump from working in academia to being a full-time conservationist 15 years ago, because you wanted to stop ‘writing the obituary of the ocean’ and instead start looking at solutions. What were the biggest challenges you faced when making this career change?
ES: The biggest challenges are several. First, there is a large lack of awareness that we are overexploiting the ocean to a dangerous point beyond which it may never recover. Second, entrenched interests with strong political connections, like oil companies and the industrial fishing lobby, oppose more ocean protection. But despite these challenges we’ve been able to show that marine protection benefits not only marine life, but also people and the economy.

Pristine Seas team assembling deep sea camera onboard the ROU 23 Maldonado, South Atlantic Ocean Uruguay

LUX: Can you tell us more about your Pristine seas project and share some of its primary goals?
ES: Pristine Seas works with local communities, Indigenous Peoples and governments to protect vital places in the ocean, for the benefit of humanity. To date we have helped to protect 26 areas across the ocean, from the poles to the tropics, covering a total area over twice the size of India. Our goal is to contribute to the global target of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030.

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LUX: What criteria do you use to identify and select areas for the Pristine Seas project, and how do you assess their ecological importance and conservation potential?
ES: We always support local conservation efforts, which can be divided in two categories: areas that are still near pristine and need to be protected before it’s too late, and areas that are somehow degraded but, if highly protected, they would deliver big gains for marine life, food and climate. Our approach is science-based, using global databases on marine life, fishing and carbon, and our own data collected during our expeditions to these vital ocean places.

The Pristine Seas team was invited by the government of Niue and Tofia Niue to help the island community survey its underwater environment in an effort to ensure the long-term sustainable use of resources

LUX: Can you discuss any recent discoveries or achievements from your expeditions that have improved our understanding of the marine ecosystem?
ES: Coral reefs suffer from ocean heat waves, which kill enormous amounts of corals. But we found that coral reefs can bounce back from these warming events if they are fully protected and harbor large abundances of fishes. It is the fishes that keep the reefs clean and allow the corals to return. Without the big and abundant fishes, dead corals are smothered by seaweed forever.

LUX: How do you engage with local communities and stakeholders when establishing marine protected areas through the Pristine Seas project?
ES: We always support local efforts to create marine protected areas through our research, storytelling and economic analysis. We work with local scientists to assess the health of their marine environment, provide local communities with cost-benefit analysis of protection, and advise them on how to implement their desire to protect more of their waters.

Kiribati’s Southern Line Islands where Pristine Seas launched a three-week expedition in 2020
LUX: What role do you see technology playing in marine conservation, and are there any specific technological advancements that have greatly enhanced your research or conservation efforts?
ES: Technology is key to allow us to explore the deep sea and remote areas, including satellite monitoring of illegal fishing – these have been instrumental developments to enhance our work. But technology and data alone are not sufficient. We actually need people to care. This is why we use our films and storytelling first, to inspire people to fall in love with their ocean – and then we provide the scientific and economic data to support action.

Dr. Enric Sala, photographed at NG Headquarters in Washinton, DC

LUX: How can governments and policymakers be encouraged to prioritise the protection of marine environments, especially in areas beyond national jurisdictions?
ES: For governments and policymakers, the easiest encouragement comes from the fact that ocean protection is good business! If we protect an area from fishing and other damaging activities, marine life comes back spectacularly. Fish abundance increases on average by 500% within a decade. Fish grow larger and produce many more babies, which helps to replenish nearby areas and helps local fishers. And when the fish come back, divers come in, supporting jobs and bringing in more economic benefits. Therefore, highly protected areas are a triple win. That’s what happens in countries’ waters. Beyond national jurisdiction, it is not as easy because many countries have to agree to protect an area.

Read more: An interview with Blue Latitudes: can oil rigs help save the ocean?

LUX: Pristine Seas has helped to create 26 of the largest marine reserves on the planet. Can you tell us about three of these areas which you find most fascinating, and which you would encourage our readers to look into?
ES: This is like asking parents which of their children they love the most! There are many wonderful places we have explored and helped to protect. A few examples are the kelp forests off the southern tip of South America, the pristine coral reefs of the southern Line Islands, and the offshore islands of Cocos (Costa Rica), Malpelo (Colombia) and Darwin and Wolf (Ecuador).

In March 2012, Pristine Seas, in cooperation with the PEW Charitable Trusts, undertook a month-long expedition in the four Pitcairn Islands

LUX: In your opinion, what are the most significant threats facing our oceans today, and how can we effectively address these challenges on a global scale?
ES: Overfishing, global warming and pollution are the major threats to ocean life. Overfishing is the easiest to solve, through responsible management of fisheries and protected areas. Solving pollution will require society to develop a circular economy without waste. And global warming is the most difficult of all, but it all comes down to halving our carbon emissions every decade to 2050, and to protect and restore more of nature so it can absorb much of our excess carbon pollution in the atmosphere.

LUX: Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of marine conservation, and what would you like to see accomplished in terms of global efforts in the next decade?
ES: All the nations in the world agreed in December 2022 to protect 30% of the global ocean by 2030. We have a target. Let’s make it happen.

All images by Manu San Félix, courtesy of National Geographic Pristine Seas

Find out more: www.nationalgeographic.org/pristine-seas

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Reading time: 6 min
A man sitting on a blue couch with yellow cushions
A man sitting on a blue couch with yellow cushions

Francis Sultana in his apartment in Albany

World renowned interior designer Francis Sultana has been taking the world by a storm through his residential, hospitality and commercial projects. Here, he speaks to Samantha Welsh about how he went from designing his mother’s home in Malta to leading the design team at the Hotel Palma in Capri

LUX: What was your route into the design industry?
Francis Sultana: I come from a very small island off Malta called Gozo. Growing up in the 80s meant there was little access to the world of design and so I had to read magazines like House & Garden, and World of Interiors. I was lucky my mother was hugely supportive and so she let me start decorating her house, which in fact appeared on the front cover of World of Interiors – so I must have been doing something right!

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When I was 19 I moved to London. I had read about David Gill and how he was establishing a gallery offering collectible contemporary design and art which was functional as well as beautiful. Many artists from the turn of the century had created collectible furniture as part of their work, but David really began to champion artists such as Jean-Michel Frank, Garouste and Bonetti and Donald Judd and so I began to learn from him. I also spent a lot of my time at the Victoria & Albert museum where I taught myself all about the history of design and furniture. It is why the V&A is still so dear to me now and why I sit on the museum’s Advisory Council, and why supporting museums like the Design Museum, the Serpentine Galleries and now MICAS in Malta is so very important to me.

A room with a large colourful painting behind a striped blue couch with touches of gold around the room

In Francis Sultana’s palazzo in Valletta

LUX: Where have you most enjoyed living?
FS: I love London and I really owe my success to this city. However, my heart is still Maltese and several years ago I bought a palazzo in Valletta (the capital of Malta) and have lovingly restored it back to magnificence. I love interiors and I love travelling, so tying myself down to one place or location is very hard to do! I recently became custodian of King Henry’s Hunting Lodge, a National Trust property in rural England, that was once home to two legendary interior designers, John Fowler and then later, Nicky Haslam. I cannot wait to spend time relaxing, drawing, designing away from the hubbub of London.

LUX: What is your typical working day?
FS: I get up around 5:45am everyday and check my US and also my Middle Eastern/Asian emails and then go and do my work out – as one passes a certain age this becomes a necessary daily chore sadly, but I have a fabulous trainer Jack Hanrahan who keeps me on my toes. I get to the office and have a black coffee and Eloise, my EA, goes through my diary for the day, before my daily meeting with my teams. I then go downstairs to David Gill Gallery, of which I am also CEO, and check in with the team there as we will be planning new exhibitions. I usually have lunch meeting with artists or clients and am then often dealing with the architects and designers who are working on our projects that are based all over the world – so when one time zone ends, another wakes up, so it’s pretty relentless. However, luckily I do a job that I adore and get to work with amazing clients and artists who make all the hard work so worthwhile.

A blue bench in front of a beige stone exterior entrance

Part of the Chatterley Collection by Francis Sultana

LUX: You offer innovative solutions for large scale art installations, yet are renowned for the focus you bring to bespoke design and aesthetics. How do you take a brief and adopt your clients’ requirements?
FS: I am an editor, I am very lucky that my clients usually have a very advanced sense of aesthetics and often have collected their own works over many years. I also know many of my clients quite well, so I understand what they need to accommodate in their homes – from their family life, to socialising and entertaining, to their comfort and wellness. My clients all have very big personalities and so I design around them, to complement them and their lives. I bring an understanding of how to work with contemporary art and design for sure but I also love introducing clients to artisans and traditional skills and materials that really make their homes something very unique and elegant and not like anything they will see elsewhere. The word bespoke is rather overused these days but for me, each house or hotel is a special journey and I never create a one size fits all approach, I create homes and spaces that defy time, that will remain relevant. I do not do fleeting trends.

LUX: How can design also contribute to conserving heritage?
FS: One shouldn’t be scared of period houses but one should also honour the history of a house. I have worked on quite a few historic houses – my first commission was for a piece of furniture for Spencer House in London. My own apartment in Albany which was built by Sir William Chambers required meticulous attention to detail to get the correct colours and plaster work, recreating rooms, whilst not suspending them in aspic. It is important to make a property your home, to suit your needs but the history of it should always be sitting beside you. My work on Poston Court, an estate in Herefordshire (and another Chambers construction) was similar. We respected the past and paid huge attention to the details of the building but we also made sure it was a house fit for purpose for the 21st century. The Hunting Lodge is no different. We are taking huge pains to respect the house’s unique history with the work of both John Fowler and Nicky Haslam, but I am also making it a lasting home for me.

A dining room with a round table and green and wooden chairs with a purple patterned carpet

At Poston Court

LUX: In the Summer of 2023 you launched your first hotel project, for the Oetker, at ‘La Palma’, Capri; what was the appeal for you about this mandate, and how did your concept exceed expectations?
FS: I travel a lot. So I suppose I am my own perfect client – I know what works in hotels and what doesn’t – I also think a hotel must always reflect its location – what I would design for Capri would never be the same for London or Rome or Paris. Capri is about escape, about calm and peace and about going back to nature and this is what I did at La Palma. I created a beautiful home away from home, I looked at the hotel’s iconic history but also made it work for a new luxury traveller. The reviews have been amazing and I am thrilled that this project exceeded all expectations and will introduce the hotel to a new audience without alienating those who already love staying there.

LUX: Your passion for Italy is evident, where especially do you draw inspiration?
FS: Capri for me is inspirational which is why I created an entire collection of furniture and lighting entitled Capri – based on a white colour palette (with a touch of Verdigris) with materials like white plaster, white bronze and marble. It’s a big move for me to do an all white collection but people seem to love it. Earlier this year I collaborated with Italian brand Bonacina – who I have worked with for years. It is a large indoor/outdoor collection that we launched in Milan and really is all about summer living and La Dolce Vita which the Italians do so well. I also did a plate design for Ginori 1735 for David Gill Gallery which is rather pretty. I just love Italy and Italy seems to love me back, which is nice!

A white lounge with white furniture and two green chairs and some trees

Hotel La Palma in Capri

LUX: Outside Europe, where would you say there is a tradition and appreciation for design, be it architecture, furniture, craft?
FS: Funnily enough I recently started several projects in the Middle East and I find that my clients there are incredibly knowledgeable on design matters – if you don’t care about good design then I am probably not the best designer for you as it’s really at the core of what I do! But luckily it seems that across architecture and furniture as well as crafts and artisanal skills, this is something that a growing coterie of clients across the region are really focusing on right now. It’s not about new new new, it’s about finding something more lasting.

LUX: Do the destinations for multiple home-owners such as Monte Carlo, St Moritz, Middle East and the US influence how design ideas mutate?
FS: Of course – groups of friends tend to know each other and go to the same hotels, restaurants etc and so there are styles that move from one country to the next for sure – however I feel with most of my clients with multiple homes, whilst they like some elements to remain consistent like quality of bathrooms and bedrooms, they really like to have a sense of place in each of the homes – there is no point creating the same look in New York as in St Moritz – the climate wouldn’t suit and the past times are completely different after all.

A colourful blue, green, brown and yellow room with a mirror over a fireplace

Francis Sultana’s drawing room in Albany

LUX: In 2018, you were appointed Ambassador of Culture for Malta; what is your cross-cultural vision for MICAS, Malta’s new museum space opening in 2024?
FS: When I was growing up I didn’t have anything in Malta to help educate me – I had to go to Paris and to London to learn. For MICAS we are really focused on creating an international space for art and design that will be for the Maltese people, not only in terms of the level of global exhibitions that can be hosted in a space that can truly accommodate large pieces of work, but also providing educational platforms for the young Maltese to learn and be inspired so they don’t have to leave their home country to achieve a career in the arts.

Read more: Winch Design’s Aino Grapin On Sustainable Yachting

LUX: How do you feel London will hold its own against the fast-evolving Paris art ecosystem?
FS: London is London and Paris is Paris. They are two very different places which both have their roles. London has always been about business. Paris has always been about desire. I think the cultural heart of London is still very much here and people love London and living here, so whilst Brexit caused shockwaves that still have consequences for us all, London will always have its place at the heart of many deals.

Find out more: francissultana.com

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Reading time: 9 min
Thibaut Hontanx is the seventh Chief Blender of the historic Maison Courvoisier. Here, he speaks to LUX about the brand’s famous past, and the importance of celebrating the present

LUX: Can you start by telling us a bit about Maison Courvoisier’s history and why the heritage of the brand is so important to its identity?
Thibaut Hontanx: Courvoisier was founded by Félix Courvoisier in 1828. The brand was officially registered in 1843, and Félix then built the Maison in 1857, which still operates on the banks of the Charente River. He ultimately created the brand because he believed in celebrating the joy in the everyday, and this is something which still holds true for us.

When Félix passed away in 1866, he left Courvoisier to his two nephews, the Curlier brothers, who had lived in Jarnac their entire lives. They expanded the business internationally to London, and Courvoisier was awarded a gold medal at the 1889 Paris World Fair and its cognacs were then served at the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower.

LUX: Indeed, and Courvoisier has been served at many historical celebrations – it was also served at the opening of Moulin Rouge. Are there any upcoming landmark occasions in which you are planning to cement the presence of the brand?
TH: Next year will be a landmark year for Maison Courvoisier; we are thrilled to reopen our home in Jarnac in 2024 after more than a year of renovation work. Beyond our exciting Maison reopening, we will have more updates to share soon…

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Can you speak to the Maison’s Foundation 1828 project and your vision to support small business owners and entrepreneurs?
TH: Foundation 1828 is Courvoisier’s philanthropic platform. It provides meaningful financial and educational support to empower small business owners and entrepreneurs in underserved populations across the world.

In the US, we have established a multi-year partnership with the National Urban League, which is a historic civil rights organisation dedicated to economic empowerment, equality and social justice. Since 2020, Foundation 1828 has also contributed to a $1 million financial commitment over five years to assisting Black and minority small business owners and entrepreneurs in the U.S. This year and beyond, our Maison is aiming to expand its support globally.

LUX: What would you say to someone who has an appreciation for luxury drinks and spirits, but who does not usually drink cognac?
TH: I would say that our Collection of cognacs have something to offer for every taste preference. For spirits drinkers who are looking for a sessionable, refreshing cocktail, I would recommend that they try the Courvoisier Gala cocktail. This drink is very festive and gives people from all backgrounds and taste preferences an opportunity to explore the rich world of cognac through an approachable experience.

If you prefer a neat or on the rocks style pour, I would suggest trying Courvoisier XO Royal from our prestige portfolio collection of cognacs. Courvoisier XO Royal really embodies the roots of Maison Courvoisier through the vision of our charismatic founder, as well as its rich history of revered cognacs that graced the royal tables of Europe. Our ultimate expression, L’Essence de Courvoisier, is also great to enjoy neat.

LUX: Could you describe the significance of terroir in the production of Courvoisier cognac, and how it influences the flavour profiles of your Cognac/Blends?
TH: The significance of terroir is paramount, as it has a huge influence on the flavour profiles of our cognacs and blends. The fruity and floral style of our Maison has been defined by the successive generations of Chief Blenders as Cognac in Blossom. We deeply respect the Cognac region, where our art of making is rooted in harnessing, liberating, and revealing the spirit found in our terroir, crus, and oaks. This philosophy results in an exuberant cognac infused with the vibrancy of the Cognac region.

LUX: In the world of luxury spirits, what are some of the key trends you anticipate in the near future?
TH: I think there will be a continued focus on premiumization and heightened enthusiasm within the cognac category. At our Maison, I expect more experimentation with blends of older, rarer eaux-de-vie to develop our prestige and ultra-prestige segments of the business.

Read more: Entering Veuve Clicquot’s Garden of Gastronomy

LUX: You have a lot of tradition and history behind you. How will you ensure that you continue to appeal to younger generations in today’s market?
TH: We will continue to innovate offerings, introducing new and exciting blends and cognacs that align with evolving preferences, emphasising inclusivity and approachability. Our goal is to continue to offer a cognac experience that is welcoming and accessible to all.

LUX: Why was British artist and designer, Yinka Ilori, the right person to be the Maison’s ‘Ambassador for Joy’?
TH: Yinka is committed to making art playful and community-driven. Likewise, we believe in making the cognac experience a joyful one that can be enjoyed by anyone. We are continuing to redefine the cognac category by placing Courvoisier in consumption moments that are vibrant and vivid. Our work with Yinka continues to bring to life our brand world that is about savouring life’s pleasures.

Find out more: www.courvoisier.com

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Reading time: 4 min
A raw diamond in someone's hand
people walking in builder outfits through a mine

Petra Diamonds – Cullinan Diamond Mine – Boodles Site Visit

Boodles, the globally-renowned sixth generation family business, is pioneering sustainability in the diamond and jewellery industry, using technology to trace each diamond and working closely with their workers and the mines to ensure a healthy environment for both the community and the land. Here, Honour and Jody Wainwright, descendants of the founders of Boodles, speak to Samantha Welsh about the company’s values and commitment to sustainable practices

LUX: What are Boodles’ values that make you a leader among the ‘best of British’ luxury brands?
Honour Wainwright: and Jody Wainwright: Boodles’ principal point of difference is that we are a sixth-generation family business in operation since our founding in 1798. I am the sixth generation and my twin brother and two cousins also work for the business. We prioritise looking after our clients and host up to 250 events each year for them. Events give us an opportunity to entertain our loyal customers, allow the Directors to get to know them, to give them a lovely day out and to thank them in person for their loyalty. We also value design and currently have six in-house designers, two based in our flagship New Bond Street store, and four at Head Office in Liverpool. We launch a High Jewellery collection each year, this year’s concept being ‘A Family Journey: Around Europe in 10 Days’ inspired by a trip our Chairman, Nicholas Wainwright undertook to buy stones, meet suppliers and gain inspiration for the collection, in so doing replicating the trip taken by his father in 1962.

A raw diamond in someone's hand

Craftsmanship is at the core of Boodles. All Boodles jewellery is designed and hand-finished in the UK at our London workshops. We also use Single Mine Origin gold in all of our jewellery, which comes from the Yanfolila mine in Mali. Boodles know that sustainability and traceability is extremely important. Inevitably, our younger customers value this more and we therefore regard it as something that is essential for our own peace of mind, but also an investment in the future of our business. We also launched a high jewellery collection called ‘Peace of Mined’ featuring diamonds from the Cullinan Mine extracted only weeks before the collection launched.

LUX: You share Boodles’ passion and reputation for offering inimitable stones; what are the primary considerations when selecting a stone?
HW & JW: Boodles are unique as when sourcing stones we usually buy the rough diamonds direct from the mine. At Boodles we are looking for exceptional gemstones, Jody Wainwright, our Director of Precious Gemstones and Diamonds, says a stone has to ‘talk’ to him.

A mine with cranes and scaffolding

© Ben Phillips

LUX: What is your ‘mine-to-market’ process that transforms a rough mineral into a personal treasure?
HW & JW: At Boodles, this process begins with our directors hand-picking and sourcing stones from mines and suppliers, whom we have been dealing with for many generations. They are then taken to our London workshop where they are cut by Boodles’ master diamond cutter, Clive, who we call our ‘5th C’ extending the traditional 4Cs grading system. The stones are skilfully polished, set by our in-house designers, and transported onward to our UK showrooms for display

LUX: How has the Boodles approach to partnerships succeeded in creating an influential U/HNW ecosystem?
HW & JW: From gallery exhibitions to horse racing, Boodles is known for the sheer variety of its events and their number, – we hosted 250 events last year. After a fantastic inaugural year in 2022, our partnership as lead sponsor for the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup was renewed in 2023. At the home of Jump Racing, the Boodles pink logo was omnipresent throughout the Festival’s ITV broadcast. This year’s partnership was launched through a photo shoot with 2022’s Gold Cup Winner Rachael Blackmore on London’s iconic ‘Bond Street with previous Gold Cup Winner, Native River. As the first female jockey to win the Gold Cup and BBC’s World Sport Star of the Year in 2021, Rachael is the perfect embodiment of a Boodles Brand Ambassador. It is no surprise that Boodles will be partnering with the Gold Cup again in 2024 to celebrate its highly anticipated centenary. It provides a special day out for our clients and an opportunity for them to attend a world-renowned sporting event whilst allowing the Boodles team to really get to know their clients and their families.

A rose gold and diamond ring

2023 also saw Boodles present our third garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, in collaboration with esteemed British garden designer, Tom Hoblyn. ‘The Boodles Best of British Garden’ was awarded a Silver-Gilt medal. Post-Covid, sports events resumed: Boodles’ warm-up for Wimbledon concluded its 19th edition within genteel surroundings at Stoke Park, we had a successful pop-up tournament at Quinta do Lago Resort in the Algarve, and The Boodles Boxing Ball returned, raising more money than ever for charity, and the list goes on.

LUX: How did the partnership between Boodles and the Cullinan Mine begin?
HW & JW: The Cullinan mine is very special to Boodles. It was visited by my great uncle, the late Anthony Wainwright, during one of his many expeditions overseas in search of fine stones. He found it magical, laden with mysteries — and shared tales of the jewels in its depths with his grandson, my cousin. When Jody was just a small boy, Anthony died and his son Nicholas followed on in his footsteps, visiting the mine in the mid-1990s. He returned equally enchanted — and his experience of the Cullinan Mine inspired Jody with a new suite of legends.

people standing in helmets and white outfits in a mine

Petra Diamonds – Cullinan Diamond Mine – Boodles Site Visit

I went down the Cullinan Mine with my parents last February and had an amazing experience. They don’t open the mine to anyone other than principal shareholders. My twin brother and cousins have also recently visited the mine and seeing the process of mining a Cullinan diamond has been fascinating.

The story is fantastic and Boodles have a passion for these stones. Each stone is securely helicoptered to the Johannesburg Head Office, then onward to our London diamond cutters, then into our shops, so there is a total chain of custody.

We find that customers love to know that their Boodles piece featuring a Cullinan diamond was mined only 6 months ago. We create a lovely book charting the progress of the stone through all the stages of refinement into the final finished piece of jewellery.

A boiling gold pour

LUX: What can you share about upcoming developments?
HW & JW: We have discussed opportunities for potential international event partnerships in Florida, Texas, Bermuda and Barbados. We are partnering with a third gold mine which opens up in Guinea in Q4, and Jody will attend the official launch. This, together with Yanfolila Mine mentioned earlier in Mali, and Ity Mine in Côte d’Ivoire have each received independent certification to an internationally recognised responsibility standard, so that every ounce of Single Mine Origin (SMO) gold comes with a fully auditable QR code that traces its origins and journey. We are working towards all our diamonds being fully traceable and currently we have a large selection from the Cullinan Mine in South Africa. A number of our larger diamonds now also come from mines such as the Kao Mine in Lesotho, South Africa, and the Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine in Canada. We are also beginning to look at some new mines that uphold high sustainability standards and share their efforts through their respective websites.

Find out more: boodles.com

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Reading time: 6 min
Two women standing on either side of frames hung on the walls of a gallery
Two women standing on either side of frames hung on the walls of a gallery

Founders of Shrine Empire Shefali Somani (left) and Anahita Taneja (right)

Anahita Taneja & Shefali Somani founded Shrine Empire in 2008 with a mission to support South Asian artists. Here the gallerists speak to Samantha Welsh about the development of India’s art scene and the importance of collaboration to build up South Asia’s art community

LUX: How did you start to work together?
Anahita Taneja & Shefali Somani: Back in 2006 we met over a sale of an artwork and found common links in Kolkata, India. That was when we first decided to collaborate and work together on a group exhibition in 2007. It led us to work further together as two separate entities, the Shrine Gallery and Empire Art, in exhibitions in Singapore and then the first edition of India Art Fair. Over a period of time, we realised that we had a similar vision and believed in practices of similar artists in South Asia, so we joined hands and started Shrine Empire in 2008.

A room with art and a red light a man sitting on a bench watching a video from a projector

Yoshinori Niwa, Our Human Spirit Under Capitalism, Prameya Art Foundation, curated by Anushka Rajendran

LUX: What was ground-breaking about what Prameya Art Foundation (PRAF) offered?
AT & SS: In India we’ve only had a handful of art foundations who have consistently done good work. Due to the dearth of funding and patronage, many private entities have had to take not-for-profit initiatives under their belt and promote the growth of the art community in India. We realised the need for an institution which would help to build the art ecosystem, would provide opportunities for artists, writers and curators, and create international partnerships to help build a network to benefit the community here. It was the need of the hour.

A white room with simple art works on the walls

Neerja Kothari, Keeping Score, Shrine Empire

What made Prameya Art Foundation stand out from the rest was that we supported initiatives that never really had any funding or support in India. For example, PRAF Publish which is our artist book grant, Art Scribes Award, our residency and exhibition grant for curators, PRAF Participatory which leads international artists workshops and exhibitions, Pair Award offering grants to mid-career artists, and our imminent launch of India’s first major video production grant.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

With PRAF Participatory (one of our initial programs) we have invited artists like Sue Williamson (South Africa), Paul Wong (Canada), Bracha I. Ettinger (France), and Yoshinori Niwa (Japan) all of whom have visited India as part of this programme, and have collaborated with invited artists and creative practitioners from this country to create artworks.

A room with art and a red light a man sitting on a bench watching a video from a projector

Rehabilitating our human spirit under capitalism by Yoshinori Niwa, curated by Anushka Rajendran

LUX: Which art weeks and fairs are particularly impactful for South Asian artists?
AT & SS: For South Asian artists, India Art Fair, Art Basel Hongkong and Art Dubai are some fairs which bring focus to artists from the region. Kochi Muziris Biennale, Colomboscope, Kathmandu Triennale and Dhaka Art Summit in fact have a larger and more significant importance, as they hold well curated conversations around artists from South Asia where curators, writers and collections get to view more of their work and bring focus and attention towards their practice.

LUX: What conversations will you be mediating through your partnership with Hello India Art Awards?
AT & SS: The collaboration of Shrine Empire with Hello India Art Awards promotes recognition for artists, curators, writers and other contributors in this field, offering them encouragement and recognition in the industry. The Award also gives a small grant to the winners and recognises certain categories such as best writer, best performance artist, best public-led initiative amongst others which otherwise do not get their due importance or support. We hope to build further patronage through initiatives like these.

A woman wearing an orange dress standing next to a woman in a grey and white outfit standing between two paintings on walls

Shrine Empire was founded in 2008 by Shefali Somani (left) and Anahita Taneja (right)

LUX: Where do you see future opportunities for engagement?
AT & SS: We hope to open up the world to India with further international collaborations and opportunities for our community here. We see a scope of growth through dialogue and engagement with other communities beyond the arts creating exposure and conversation around it. In developing our dialogue and keeping South Asia as our focus, we hope to build initiatives which help, support and create future opportunities.

LUX: What was the vision for Shrine Empire?
AT & SS: Shrine Empire was envisioned as a space to show contemporary art practices from South Asia that were relevant to context of the times and region that they belonged to. We have worked to fulfil this vision for the past fifteen years.

Wooden benches with cushions on them in a room with blue walls and small pictures on the walls

Forestial Flock Curated by Adwait Singh, Shrine Empire

LUX: How was the contemporary art market in India at that time?
AT & SS: When we started Shrine Empire, the market in India for contemporary art was nascent, and a market for experimental practices was nonexistent. Over the years due to many factors, India now has a strong growing market for contemporary art. We see a growth in the number of young collectors every year and not only from our major cities but in the past couple of years from smaller towns as well.

LUX: Is your role curatorial in terms of facilitating discourse?
AT & SS: Our role is not curatorial but we jointly decide on the discourse that we would like to facilitate through the gallery and foundation with curators we work with.

tops made of metal on a rack

Tayeba Begum Lipi, Vanity Fair, Shrine Empire

LUX: How do you offer platforms for cross-cultural participation?
AT & SS: We offer cross-cultural participation through PRAF. Many of our programmes have international partners and we select artists, writers and curators who then spend time in international residencies such as La Napoule Foundation in South of France and Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. For the first time, we will be inviting an international artist for a residency in India through Villa Swagatam, an initiative led by French Institute in India. We have recently collaborated with Han Nefkens Foundation for a major video grant for South Asian artists, which will give them an opportunity to show their work in five major institutions around the world.

LUX: What socio-political themes particularly resonate with artists you champion?
AT & SS: Our artists are working with the socio-political issues that are prevalent in the South Asian context. Mining and industrialisation in tribal areas leading to loss of indigenous ways, issues of migration both within the region and to countries outside South Asia, the politics of caste and gender, these are just some of the themes that resonate strongly with our artists.

A white room with art on the wall

Sue Williamson, Other Voices, Other Cities, Prameya Art Foundation, curated by Anushka Rajendran

LUX: What you foresee for the South Asia art scene over the next decade?
AT & SS: We see a positive shift of interest from international collectors towards South Asian artists. There is already significant attention on this region by important institutions and museums who are exhibiting and showing their works. International curators are showing a marked interest in the dialogue around practices from this region.

Read more: Patrick Sun on LGBTQ artists in Asia

There will be a significant growth in collections building on artists from South Asia and many more artists will be shown at international Biennale’s and Triennale’s. A subsequent result of these factors will lead to a rise in the market of these artists going forward.

Find out more: shrineempiregallery.com

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Reading time: 6 min
Carl Hansen living room

VLA61 Monarch Chair and Foyer series, designed in collaboration with Vilhelm Lauritzen

Carl Hansen & Søn began as a small furniture workshop in Odense in 1908. Today, it is a company stretching across continents. Knud Erik Hansen tells LUX about continuing his grandfather’s legacy as CEO of the Danish furniture brand

LUX: Carl Hansen & Søn was founded over a century ago. How do you maintain a balance between traditional craftsmanship and modern technology?
Knud Erik Hansen: We produce products of a very high quality. In order to do this, we have spent a lot of time looking for the right equipment to automate certain parts of the production. Being a carpenter is a very difficult job, particularly if you have to start right from the beginning, carving out the wood. Everything we make is round, and that makes it very complicated, very difficult, and it takes a long time.

When I took over in 2002, I was interested in trying to automate a lot of the processes that could be done just as well on a machine, because I don’t see the need for people to wear themselves out. I would much rather use my carpenters for doing those final touches to the furniture, so that it is absolutely perfect. The machines can grind the wood and can do all the heavy jobs, but they’re not looking at what makes the furniture absolutely perfect, they can’t do that yet. It is still necessary for us to have a lot of craftsmen working with each individual piece of furniture.

Man in a suit sitting on a wooden chair

Knud Erik Hansen

LUX: You have a very strong focus on preserving Danish designs and principles. How do you distinguish your company from other Danish furniture brands?
KEH: We are one of the very, very few that have stayed in Denmark. Before I joined Carl Hansen, I lived and worked in the Far East for 22 years in shipping, not in, not in furniture, but I had a touch on every single commodity that is exported from the Far East. I’ve seen a lot of businesses in Hong Kong and China, in Singapore and Malaysia all over the place and I would say the craftsmanship that you get out there is okay, but it is not fantastic.

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When I moved to Denmark, I built a new factory that employed a lot of people, I bought the latest machinery you could buy and I borrowed every penny I could to do it. I inherited a lot of beautiful pieces of furniture designed by hand, and I put them into production.

My brother, who ran the business 20 years before me, had a very limited amount of different pieces on offer. I widened that offering and the customers appreciated that. So I stayed in Denmark, and today I’m very pleased with what I have built. We have a factory of 60,000 square metres. We export to 67 countries around the world and have a very good name today. I can see many of my competitors trying to get back to Denmark or even to Europe from China, and I can tell you that is not easy today. I I think my timing was perfect. Let’s just say I’ve been very lucky.

Simple wooden carl hansen shelves on a wall next to two brown chairs

Tsugi Shelves, designed by Sharon Fisher and Matteo Barenghi

LUX: I read the amazing story about your mother and her perseverance with the company, How did that influence your career?
KEH: I always admired my mother’s courage and the fact that she dared to get into running a factory in the early 1960s. It was unheard of for women in Denmark. She felt it was sad that my brother and I would not have the opportunity to take over the business, so she decided to run it herself and take a chance. She managed it for 20 years and during that time, it was her whole life. Afterwards, she went happily on pension and lived a beautiful life until she passed at 84 years old.

Of course, I admire her. But I didn’t have strong family feelings or sentimentality for the company. I worked in a different company in the Far East and when I got back to Denmark I joined Tempur, the metrics company, and became the Managing Director there, so I had very little time to concentrate on Carl Hansen & Søn.

It was only when I got into the business in Carl Hansen & Søn in 2002, that I started realising how much she had actually done and also how much my father, who unfortunately died very young, had done. He is a very big part of Carl Hansen & Søn. I hope both my parents would be happy with where the company is today.

LUX: How has being in a family owned business contributed to the success across so many generations?
KEH: I’m third generation and the 4th generation is nearly ready; my younger son is taking over. He’s living in Singapore at the moment, and when he returns back to Denmark he will take over the business and it will continue as a family business through the 5th generation, I hope. I could have sold the company, but I decided not to do that. I would like the next generation to take over. I hope that will happen for my son as well, that he will look after his children and make sure that at least one of them will take over for the next generation. But of course, nothing is certain, and I must leave it to the next generation to cultivate that. I can only hope that they will continue the business.

LUX: Where do you usually draw inspiration from for your physical products?
KEH: It is important for me that we work today with a lot of younger architects and are still developing new pieces with the next generation, with both Danish and foreign designers.

A Carl Hansen chair placed next to a wooden cabinet beside a green marble wall

PK1 Chair designed by Poul Kjærholm

Taste wise, however, the DNA is still the same. The furniture is just as much a part of the family as we are, and therefore it’s important to make sure that the furniture that we offer can be showcased all together. That’s also why we can succeed with our flagship stores; you can put all the furniture together and it doesn’t really matter how you put it together, the pieces will compliment each other. I approve the furniture that we are going to make, and I have to tell the designers that we are not looking to copy what other people are doing. We want to stick to our own unique DNA, using wood, natural materials, wool and the best leather, while also thinking about our impact on the environment.

LUX: How do you ensure that your materials are both sustainable, but also of the highest quality? Are there any sustainability initiatives that you’re working on that you’d like to mention?
KEH: This is something we have considered right from 1908 as we only produced furniture from wood, primarily Danish wood. We have a law in Denmark that you cannot chop down a tree unless you plant a new one, so we are always replenishing the forests.

The only materials we use are nature’s own; we don’t use any artificial plastic or anything like that. And importantly, our furniture is built to last. We have an initiative called ‘Real Love’, where we buy back our own furniture if anybody wants to sell it, refurbish it and sell it again. Many people buy the furniture back again, which is quite nice because it’s not a big profit for us – although it is for the environment.

Read more: Parmigiani Fleurier CEO Guido Terreni on horology and the art of luxury

Every wood cutting leftover from making our furniture is used to its fullest, wherever we craft it into a plate or chopping board or another home accessory. Any scraps or sawdust that remain are repurposed in a district heating plant that provides heating to our own factories, and to local homes in Gelsted.

Black rocking chair next to wooden beams in the morning sun

CH45 Rocking Chair designed by Hans J. Wegner

LUX: What do you think is necessary to uphold your company’s focus on quality craftsmanship in future years?
KEH: It is important that the next generation understands the details of the company and its history, development, and culture. We have a lot of talented people in our company who understand our values, our mission, and the expectations for the future owners.

We have built the company up to a size which allows it to stand alone. We’ve ventured into significant contracts, including sales contracts and partnerships with restaurants around the world. We also have a furniture factory in Vietnam, employing around 800-900 people, where we produce outdoor and contract furniture for hotels. We also create bespoke furniture, managed by my older son. So again, it’s family. This family-driven management ensures coordination between our two factories and strengthens our competitive position.

I must stress that capital is crucial for our company. Maintaining a good relationship with the banks we work with is essential. We have been closely liaising with financial institutions to ensure their satisfaction, which is necessary for our ability to expand and venture as we have in the past 22 years.

Finally, the energy and innovation brought by the younger generation and my two sons are invaluable. They serve as catalysts for our entire team, inspiring them to align with our company’s policies. It’s crucial that they set an example for how we expect things to be done.

Find out more: www.carlhansen.com

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Reading time: 8 min
Two women aboard a bot in scuba diving gear
Two women aboard a boat in scuba diving gear

Emily Hazelwood and Amber Jackson before a dive around a nearby decommissioned rig

After meeting at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Emily Hazelwood and Amber Jackson founded the Blue Latitudes Foundation in 2018 to explore the untapped potential of decommissioned oil rigs. Here, they speak to LUX about how these infrastructures might be unlikely friends of marine wildlife

LUX: Could you share the story behind the creation of your organisation and what motivated you to focus on ocean conservation?
Emily Hazelwood: After I graduated from college, I got my first job working as an environmental field technician in the Gulf of Mexico following the events of the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill. The spill covered over 1,300 miles of the Gulf Coast in oil and threatened not only the physical, economic and food security of the Gulf’s communities, but also resources for businesses worldwide. I had never witnessed the devastating impacts of humankind on our oceans so acutely, and this experience went on to shape the rest of my career.

However, my time spent in the Gulf of Mexico is also where I first learned about the Rigs to Reefs program, where retired oil platforms are repurposed and given new life as artificial reefs, and where I began to think differently about ocean conservation. The concept fascinated me. How could a structure capable of such intense environmental degradation also be capable of supporting marine life in a positive way?

I completed a master’s degree at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California investigating the social, economic, and ecological implications of re-purposing offshore oil and gas platforms into artificial reefs. Scripps was also where I met Amber, and in 2018, we launched the Blue Latitudes Foundation to broaden the dialogue on traditional ocean conservation practices and find ways to use our oceans without using them up.

Amber Jackson: After graduating from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in marine science, I pursued my graduate studies at Scripps, met Emily, and together we embarked on a thesis project that would ultimately shape our organisation’s vision of repurposing decommissioned oil rigs in California.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

As we delved deeper into our thesis project, we discovered the tremendous ecological potential of these rigs. Contrary to conventional practices that involve complete removal of the rig and associated infrastructure from the ocean floor, we recognized the value of the platform jacket—the steel scaffolding supporting the drilling infrastructure—as a thriving marine ecosystem.

Traditionally, oil companies are responsible for decommissioning oil rigs once the wells dry up. This process includes capping the well and removing everything from the ocean floor, which incurs significant costs. At Blue Latitudes, however, we conduct comprehensive environmental impact assessments of each oil rig, assessing the existing and future underwater ecosystems. When a rig is deemed suitable for repurposing into an artificial reef, the oil company can choose to either topple the steel structure onto the ocean floor or cut it to a height that allows ships to pass over. In doing this, the company saves millions of dollars and the repurposed rig creates an artificial habitat that fosters marine life.

A fish and colourful corals underwater

A decommissioned oil rig and its thriving marine ecosystem

LUX: How do these artificial reefs compare to natural reef ecosystems?
EH: First and foremost, we want to conserve and preserve our natural reefs to the greatest extent possible. However, we recognise that we are quickly losing many of our natural reefs and the installation of artificial reefs is becoming increasingly important.

That being said, we don’t want to just use any material for our artificial reef construction projects; we want to think about materials that are sustainable and can last in the water column for long periods of time, meaning they won’t leach any chemicals or breakdown over the years. We also want to think about materials that would not only attract marine life, but would actually foster the production of marine life. That’s part of what makes offshore oil and gas platforms excellent candidates for artificial reefs. Some offshore oil platforms are as tall as the Empire State Building, which means a lot of real estate for marine life to grow. Additionally, these structures are very complex with lots of beams and cross beams, and this complexity will initially attract marine life and eventually begin to produce marine life. Finally, they were designed to remain in the water for long periods.

LUX: You are also both PADI certified rescue divers and Ambassadivers. Did you gain these qualifications because of your love of being in the ocean?
EH: I come from a family of scuba-divers who, from a young age, supported my passion and curiosity for the sea, encouraging me to get scuba certified by the age of 12. They took me around the world to explore different ocean ecosystems, and every site we visited gave us the opportunity to research the different creatures that lived there and attempt to identify them during our dives.

This passion to explore the world’s oceans has stayed with me to this day, drawing me to places like the tiny island of Utila in search of whale sharks, to oil platforms in the heart of the Gulf of Mexico, to searching for Wobbegons and Leafy Sea Dragons off the coast of Sydney. As I have grown older, that passion has evolved into academic curiosity which led me to pursue my dive master certification.

I would encourage anyone to consider diving; there is no other experience in the world like it. Diving is your first step towards exploration of the unknown, and once you have experienced it, there is no going back.

Two women side by side standing on a boat in the ocean

Blue Latitudes co-founders Emily Hazelwood and Amber Jackson

AJ: Becoming a PADI certified rescue diver was an important step for me. It not only expanded my knowledge and skills in diving but also equipped me with the ability to handle challenging situations underwater. The training involved learning essential rescue techniques, mastering buoyancy control, and enhancing my overall diving competence. It instilled in me a sense of responsibility and preparedness to assist others in need while exploring the marine environment.

Being an Ambassadiver has been an enriching experience as well. I have had the privilege of representing the diving community and promoting marine conservation initiatives. It has allowed me to engage with fellow divers and enthusiasts, sharing knowledge and raising awareness about the critical issues facing our oceans.

LUX: Amber, as a former Ocean Curator at Google, in partnership with the Sylvia Earle Alliance, how do you see the future of the role of big tech companies in conserving our oceans?
AJ: I firmly believe that the future of ocean conservation relies on the active involvement of big tech companies. Technology and innovation play a pivotal role in safeguarding our oceans for generations to come.

I envision big tech companies taking the lead in this endeavour by making substantial investments in monitoring and reporting technologies. These advancements will not only make the state of the world’s oceans easily accessible to all, but also provide a platform for informed decision-making and collective action.

Read more: Wendy Schmidt on philanthropy, technology and unexplored oceans 

By leveraging their resources and expertise, these companies can contribute to the development of cutting-edge tools and platforms that enable real-time data collection, analysis, and visualisation. Such technologies have the potential to revolutionise our understanding of marine ecosystems, track environmental changes, and identify areas that require immediate attention and conservation efforts.

LUX: How do you engage with the public to raise widespread awareness about the importance of your work?
EH: We find that with much of our work, seeing is believing. It’s hard to convey to the public the ecological value of an offshore oil and gas platform mostly because when people see an offshore oil platform, they think of destruction and oil spills. They definitely don’t think of a thriving reef ecosystem. To resolve this issue we like to introduce the public to the underwater space using underwater photography, videography, and most recently 360 videography, enabling us to use virtual reality to take audiences diving with us below the surface

LUX: What advice would you give to individuals or organisations interested in pursuing work in the field of marine conservation?
EH: I believe that we have seen success with our research into the Rigs to Reefs program because it’s unique and different and it radically challenges the way we think about ocean conservation. We’re not ‘save the whales’, although that’s still incredibly important, we’re ‘save the oil platforms’ and that tends to grab people’s attention. I would encourage anyone interested in pursuing work in the field of marine conservation to take on challenges that are often overlooked. We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about our oceans, especially the deep ocean. There is still so much left to learn and explore about our oceans.

A scubadiver in the ocean surrounded by some metal bars

Scubadiving near a decommissioned rig

LUX: What are your key goals and aspirations for the Blue Latitudes Foundation for the future?
AJ: In the future we’re hoping to expand the Blue Latitudes Foundation research and education efforts into the offshore wind and aquaculture spaces. We have primarily focused on the oil and gas industry, with a specific interest in converting offshore oil platforms into artificial reefs. Increasingly, however, we’ve recognized that there are a lot of lessons that can be applied to the offshore wind industry from the oil and gas industry, such as designing wind farms that not only support marine life but also support offshore aquaculture ventures as well as fisheries.

LUX: What do you hope our oceans will look like in 2033?
EH: Industry and the environment aren’t known for working together successfully, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. As we continue to develop and utilise offshore resources, we must be keenly aware of our footprint on the environment and opportunities to mitigate our negative impacts. My hope is that we will start to see more offshore wind farms dotting our coastlines, and for the continued emergence of sustainable offshore aquaculture farms. I hope that we continue to pursue opportunities that allow us to utilise our oceans sustainably without using them up.

AJ: In 2033, I envision our oceans as thriving, resilient ecosystems that have rebounded from the challenges they currently face. I hope to see significant progress in ocean conservation efforts, driven by global collaboration and heightened awareness of the importance of our marine environments.

I hope that sustainable fishing practices will be the norm, ensuring the long-term health and abundance of fish populations. I hope we will witness the widespread adoption of responsible aquaculture techniques that minimise environmental impacts and prioritise the well-being of marine life. Marine protected areas will have expanded, safeguarding vital habitats and biodiversity hotspots. These protected zones will serve as sanctuaries for marine species, allowing them to flourish and maintain balanced ecosystems.

Through advancements in technology and innovation, we will have a more comprehensive understanding of the ocean’s health. High-resolution monitoring systems, including satellite imaging and underwater sensors, will enable real-time tracking of ocean conditions and provide early warnings of environmental threats. This knowledge will empower decision-makers to take swift and informed action to mitigate pollution and the impact of climate change.

Read more: www.bluelatitudesfoundation.org

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Reading time: 9 min
A glass and wood building that says "Ornellaia" on it
A glass and wood building that says "Ornellaia" on it
Ornellaia, recently held its 15th charity auction dedicated to the Vendemmia d’Artista 2020 ‘La Proporzione’. The online auction, conducted by Sotheby’s, raised $300,000 contributing to a total of $2.5M since the project began.  Here, Samantha Welsh speaks to Ornellaia’s CEO Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja about why this is an essential event and how he turned Ornellaia into one of the world’s most celebrated wine estates in the world

LUX: How did you start-out, and what were you invited to create with Ornellaia?
Giovanni Geddes: In 1999 I became CEO of Ornellaia; the same name as its first growth that represents the style of the estate.

Ornellaia also produces  a second wine, Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia and Le Volte dell’Ornellaia, a blend made mainly by Merlot and represents a more joyful approach of the domaine style. Furthermore, Ornellaia produces two white wines, Ornellaia Bianco and Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia

A tree and deck in front of a green vineyard

LUX: How did you shine a light on the Ornellaia brand and build it separately to Masseto?
GG: I realised that it was important to create a clear distinction between Masseto and Ornellaia, so the latter did not become seen as a second wine. This is because Masseto was produced in a very limited quantity and sold at a higher price, so my idea was that Masseto needed to become an estate with its own name, its own identity, its own winery and wine. Masseto extended over 8ha and has now grown to around 11ha. We also set up a new management structure for the winery with the appointment of a Production Director and a Sales and Marketing Director. This was a milestone for the Frescobaldi group.

Three men standing up behind a man sitting in a chair holding a walking stick and a dog in his lap

LUX: What was the thinking behind the go-to-market strategy for Ornellaia; how does an art partnership potentially add value and position brand?
GG: My idea was production, promotion and brand building, so everything had to be the very best quality.

Vendemmia d’Artista project was presented in 2009 with the 2006 vintage. Since then, the estate defines every year the character of the vintage and commissions an international renowned artist to translate the vintages’ character in art. Every year 111 large format bottles are “dressed” with these art labels. These bottles have become sought after by collectors. Furthermore, in every case of six 0.75 litre bottles, one bottle bears an art label created by the artist.

green vineyards

LUX: How does the Vendemmia d’Artista project celebrate the exclusive character of each new vintage of Ornellaia?
GG: Each year, art is created and bespoked to the theme which best expresses the character of that particular vintage. First, we define the character of the wine, then an artist is identified and commissioned to interpret the character of the vintage in a series of art labels and one site-specific installation. There is no competition involved.

A room full of people and a woman giving a speech with a man in a wheelchair holding a dog in his lap

For example, Luigi Ontani, one of the most renowned Italian artists, interpreted the first Vendemmia d’Artista vintage (2006) “L’Esuberanza”, creating an artwork which portrayed this exuberant vintage; the following year, the wine was more elegant in style, so “L’Armonia” or “Harmony” was the predominant characteristic and a wonderful Egyptian artist, Ghada Amer created the concept for the artwork. The 2020 vintage, released this year, is balanced and “La Porporzione” as it has been defined by the estate, is represented by the conceptual art pioneer, Joseph Kosuth, through the art of language, an interaction and interpretation of ‘vino’ and art.

A large tree in the middle of a vineyard

LUX:  What happens with these art bottles?
GG: The artwork bottles are sold at auction through Sotheby’s. Usually there are ten lots offered (there were twelve this time) and they comprise several of the double magnums (3 litres), ten Imperials (6 litres) and the unique Salmanazar (9 litres). Proceeds were originally donated to international museums. Since 2019, we have been supporting the ‘Minds Eye’ programme of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the award-winning programme which immerses blind and low-vision people into multi-sensory experiences to foster art appreciation.

Wines side by side on a grand marble and gold mantlepiece

LUX: Where is demand for Ornellaia particularly strong?
GG: The demand for our wines is exceeding in all markets! We have the best collaborators in all markets that together with our team support the increased awareness of our wines and that of the appellation we are part of.

LUX: With hindsight, what have you most enjoyed in your highly-successful career?
GG: Seeing Ornellaia and Masseto being recognized as Italian iconic wines, brings me great joy and pride.

rows of vineyards at sunset

LUX: What would you like to leave as your legacy?
GG: I have always wished to leave a very strong company and reinforce the estate awareness. Of course, Ornellaia and Masseto are globally very well-known, but I have always strived to amplify the characteristics and values of the wines far beyond the key markets.

Find out more:

ornellaia.com

masseto.com

 

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Reading time: 3 min
Huge green field with a cluster of small houses in the middle
Huge green field with a cluster of small houses in the middle

Photo courtesy of Fresh Del Monte

Hans Sauter is the Chief Sustainability Officer at Fresh Del Monte. He speaks to Trudy Ross about the company’s sustainability journey and the importance of creating a culture of respect for the environment

LUX: Could you provide an overview of the company’s sustainability journey and a few key milestones you’ve achieved in recent years?
Hans Sauter: Let me mention that I’m not just Chief Sustainability Officer but also senior vice president for Research and Development. That’s not just out of coincidence. We approach sustainability from a scientific and data-based point of view, not a marketing or sales perspective. I have been with the company for 35 years; I started at the farms doing agricultural research and worked my way up to corporate. I know our global footprint in great detail and have accompanied this process of incorporating sustainability into our operations all along.

About 30 years ago, we started designing our farms to make the best use of the soil, carving out the areas which would be best adapted to our own crops and then leaving those other areas to re-forest and create opportunities for conservation. Starting all the way from water conservation to erosion control, pollination, etc, our operations have transformed themselves over time into combined systems where we see nature and large-scale agriculture co-existing. That’s very exciting.

A green Del Monte farm in costa rica beneath a sunny sk

Photo courtesy of Fresh Del Monte

A few milestones: in 1998, we got our first ISO 14001 certification around sustainability systems. In 2010, we set our first global sustainability goal to reduce our consumption of key resources, like water and fuel, by 10%. In 2015, we got our first carbon neutral certification at one of our operations, specifically the banana farms in Costa Rica. We escalated that last year, to estimate our carbon footprint going all the way from the farm to the consumer. We established programs where we promote those efforts, such as the Del Monte Zero pineapple, where we have sequestered enough carbon through our own on-site forests to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions all through the supply chain up until the consumer’s table.

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LUX: Do you think it is important to engage with the consumer and make them aware of sustainability initiatives, or are you more focused on the problem itself?
HS: We started this journey so long ago that we initially attacked the problems where they were occurring. On our farms, being in tropical and rural areas which are normally the most vulnerable areas and communities, we saw a great need for action. We engaged ourselves in projects to collaborate with our neighbours and see how we could improve conditions there.

We now understand that the consumer needs to hear about those efforts. In the last five years we have been more vocal about those efforts, because we have truly strong programs to talk about. It’s not making a lot of noise about little things; we’re talking about legitimate programs. We have carved close to 30% of our land just for conservation, and that’s what nations are trying to accomplish now – we’ve done it already.

Jumble of pineapples

Photo by Justine Alipate

LUX: Do you have faith that the rest of the food industry is going to continue to engage with sustainability and make this a key focus, or do you worry that there is an element of greenwashing and shouting about sustainability efforts when there aren’t concrete initiatives to back them up?
HS: There’s a little bit of both. There has definitely been some greenwashing and more talking than acting; but on the other hand, I don’t think anything can stop this train. The current events are making us brutally aware that we need to act. I’m convinced that the only thing that is needed is to get to the tipping point. If you have strong leaders that move the needle, the rest of the industry will follow. Just look at the electric motor industry – who would have said we would be moving at the pace we are moving at today? I’m definitely optimistic about the food industry.

LUX: How would you describe Fresh Del Monte’s approach to responsible sourcing, and does this impact your supplier chain further down the line?
HS: That’s probably the most difficult point at this stage. All of us are struggling with scope 3, which is essentially our suppliers. Rapid engagement of that part of our supply chain is crucial and not as easy to move. One of the advantages we have as a company is that we grow close to 45% of what we sell, so we are heavily invested in farming and understand what farmers are going through. That gives us an opportunity to talk to them on a one-to-one basis with a hands-on approach. We collaborate with them and we share experiences.

I think our example will help us leverage some moral authority when it comes to protecting the environment because we have done it, and we continue to do it and invest in it. Definitely scope 3 will continue to be a more difficult area, particularly because margins in the food industry are small. Here the retailers could be very effective in moving that needle because they are the intermediaries between the grower and the final consumer, making sure that they also are a part of this shared responsibility.

LUX: What is the biggest challenge facing the food industry and the agriculture industry?
HS: I would say the biggest challenge is time. The climate is changing so fast and most of us don’t realise that the clock is ticking. We could run out of time to implement large-scale solutions that make a difference.

Vineyard in the setting sun

Photo by Sven Wilhem

I see no shortage of solutions available, but there needs to be a lot of resources invested in research, specifically for many crops in tropical regions where regenerative agriculture practices have not been developed. We are very optimistic about regenerative agriculture in temperate regions, but the rest of the world has not had that privilege and we need to invest in those areas.

LUX: How much of this responsibility for climate change lies with big corporations like Del Monte, and how much do you think lies with the consumer?
HS: We are all in it together. Consumers make the difference with their purchasing decisions. That’s one of the reasons we decided to launch the Del Monte Zero. It’s a small, boutique program. We wanted to make a statement by allowing the consumer to choose a climate-responsible product, so that we are all made aware of what we are going through.

Each of us, in large companies and small companies as well, each of us has a huge responsibility at this point. We are working with our communities and we are looking at our impact on a watershed level, rather than just ‘my farm’. Because it doesn’t matter how much I protect the forest that runs through the river that runs through my own farm, if I don’t bring all the neighbours to protect that watershed, that river will eventually dry. We need to act as communities.

LUX: Waste reduction is a very important issue taking place in the food industry. Has Fresh Del Monte implemented any strategies to minimise waste reduction, and have you seen any outcomes?
HS: This is a very exciting area of opportunity. It can bring more business to the food industry. We initially started investing in waste reduction a long time ago, in our pineapple operations, using food which could not go to market to produce concentrate and juice. With that kind of systematic investment we have reduced waste at the farm level, and almost 95% of our product is used and not wasted. We are working on solutions to compost and to work with cattle-growers.

Food is too valuable to throw away. There should never be a reason to send food to landfill. What we are doing now is taking that one step further and looking at our crop residues, because that’s also a huge area of opportunity and we’re working aggressively to develop composting solutions and also other opportunities. It’s just investing in research and time.

Orange tree branches against a blue sky

Photo by Dan Gold

Read more: Unilever’s Rebecca Marmot on the Sustainable Everyday

LUX: What sustainability developments are you most excited about at Fresh Del Monte?
HS: I would say the most exciting thing which I have seen over the course of 35 years is the development of a culture of respect for the environment. No systems, no programs beat culture. If your team members have a culture of respect and admiration for the planet and your community, everything comes out of there and you have success with your systems and your programs.

We have seen engagement all the way from the farm workers, who have been sharing pictures of the biodiversity that they see while they are doing their field work. The excitement and the passion that we see is huge. When your own farm workers are excited and are taking pictures of biodiversity while they’re working, you have made an impact not only in your farm but also in the community. That multiplies by four every effort in education you have brought in.

LUX: How do you envision sustainable practices in the food industry in ten years?
HS: I envision it having huge contributions from new bio-science discoveries. There are companies which are working on deploying microbes that can fix nitrogen so that you don’t have to apply so much synthetic fertiliser. Synthetic nitrogen is one of the biggest challenges we have in agriculture as an emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. That will definitely make a big difference in the future.

Find out more: freshdelmonte.com

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Reading time: 8 min
A colourful painting with large grey and gold ovals hanging from the air
A woman wearing a green top standing next to a pan in a white polo shirt leaning on a gold chair with art behind them on the wall

Aliya and Farouk Khan

Over the last 25 years Aliya and Farouk Khan have been carefully curating a collection of art works by prominent first generation Malaysian contemporary artists. Known as The AFK Collection, this is one of the most comprehensive collections of seminal artworks by a wide variety of critically relevant artists and a resource centre for information and documentation, creating awareness and knowledge on the canon and timeline of Malaysia’s dynamic contemporary art movement.Here, Samantha Welsh speaks to Aliya and Farouk about the Malaysian contemporary art scene and how its gained the institutional recognition it deserves

LUX: Relocating to Kuala Lumpur in the 1990s, what was so compelling about the art scene?
Aliya and Farouk Khan: When we moved to Kuala Lumpur in the 1990’s and began visiting gallery shows, art competitions, art museums and socialising within the art scene we discovered new forms of art that moved beyond the Modernist paintings we had been exposed to up until then. We discovered art that moved beyond the traditional modes of two-dimensional painting and sculpture into new modes of making, for example mixed media and installation. Discovering these radical new art forms was compelling, particularly as this new contemporary art scene visually and intellectually described our new adopted home of Malaysia that we had chosen to live in.

LUX: How are state institutions and private patronage partnering to build national collections?
AFK: In Malaysia there are not any partnerships between state institutions and private patronage to build national collections. Instead, the contemporary movement is strongly led by private collections. This is as state institutions are still very much contained within the modernist mode. This is characteristic within the Malaysian art industry where private collectors have always led the way and created the momentum for the development of the contemporary art ecology.

LUX: Why was the contemporary art movement in Malaysia slow to emerge?
AFK: The Malaysian contemporary art movement was not slow to emerge, but it was slow in gaining institutional recognition. Malaysian contemporary artists were well ahead of the pack, vigorously engaging in the contemporary movement. Curatorial teams within state institutions saw the contemporary movement and its use of various genres as a move away from figurative art and explained it as a move towards Islamisation in Malaysian art. This does not stand up to scrutiny because upon review you find there was no development of calligraphy art (which is a main genre within Islamic art movements) and instead a strong movement into conceptual art and mixed media. At the same time, the figure was consistently represented across all the diverse genres and modes of art making.

A completely new contemporary art movement was emerging in the post-colonial landscape of Malaysia, as artists sought to describe the changes happening around them, and unfortunately the curators of the time were not able to comprehend and articulate this artistic and intellectual shift. This has left the institutions behind.

a picture of people lying down togther

Ahmad Fuad Osman, Fatamorgana 3 The Spotlight Obsession, 2006

LUX: How was the social and economic environment at that time when you started collecting versus now?
AFK: We began collecting in an era of great dynamism. Coming from Singapore it was evident to us that what had happened to Singapore in the 1970s and 1980s was now happening to Malaysia in the 1990s. Tremendous changes were afoot.

Malaysia was undergoing rapid changes, socially and economically. The country was fast moving from a rural, agrarian focused nation to an urbanised country with strong industrial, banking, service, and tourism sectors – due mainly to government policies and an independent thinking society that blossomed in the post-colonial era. The evidence of progressive development was all around us- from the building of the iconic KLCC Twin Towers (amongst the tallest buildings in the world) to the development of major highways linking the entire country from North to South. A strong demographic shift was underway, as we saw the urbanisation of the rural Malays who moved from villages into city centres.

All these changes were encapsulated in the art movement. This was the dawning of contemporary Malaysia and contemporary art within Malaysia.

Currently the country is in a far more developed state than it was in the 1990’s. The economic success is real. The GDP of individual households is much higher. Institutions and corporations are stronger across the board. All of this has led to a far greater interest within the arts which is far more affordable for people today than it was 30 years ago. People have more disposable income and are able to engage in leisure activities and critical thinking is very relevant in daily life. We notice increasingly that art has become a way of life for the middle class. Corporates and institutions are waking up to the very real need for state and national collections as a result.

LUX: Is the discipline of collecting an art or a science?
AFK: Collecting art is a science. It follows a methodology. One must first understand the formal aspects of art creation. Then one has to understand the history and narrative of both the individual artist and broader art movement. These are important academics that one needs to develop: knowledge of history and narrative and formal aspects of art. Then the methodology of collection building comes in.

Following this sequence is far different from the general statement often heard that ‘I buy what I like’. Forming a collection goes well beyond simple acquisition. So, when people say art is subjective, we in fact differ: art is extremely objective. The value and importance of an artwork inherently exists within the way it was made and its value in the art canon. Understand which are the key works for an artist, a canon, and a thesis, then systematically collect those works to build a strong art collection.

grey and white bits glued onto a canvas

Suhaimi Fadzir, Life, July 24, 1939

LUX: How do you mentor and show artists in the specialist subsectors?
AFK: One of the most effective ways is through our method of collecting and documenting. Within our collection we talk about the subsectors (which we take to mean art genres) and through our collecting we collect the dominant artists within these sectors. This achieves two things: firstly as a guide for collecting. That we are obliged to determine the subsectors. Hence it is important to collect across all the diverse genres that represent our art movement. Secondly it emphasises to us the importance of the first-generation artists who helped develop the movement along these sectors. In fact, we have found this to be the most important tool within the formation of our collection.

Essentially, we broke down what the individual genres were, who was important within these genres and what were the seminal artworks within that. This became a foundation for the collection and why we were able to identify and acquire those seminal artworks that are the scaffolding of the Malaysian contemporary art canon.

LUX: Generally, who has the upper hand, artist or collector?
AFK: Recognition is key to the relevance and strength of either the artist or collector. The artist in their earlier phase without recognition doesn’t hold much power. As they develop and become popular, they begin to hold a lot of power. Similarly, the reputation of a museum or a private collection determines their strength. In this day and age there are private collectors who wield more power than museums and institutions. The stronger the collector patronises, supports, publishes, collects the greater the power they wield. It is not that one is stronger than the other but that at different times they all wield different powers.

A colourful painting with large grey and gold ovals hanging from the air

Zulkifli Yusoff, Hujan Lembing Di Pasir Salak

LUX: How can you codify a canon of work?
AFK: Codifying a canon of work requires diligence and a critical mind. We engaged in a great deal of research and academic input via dialogue with curators and artists well entrenched in the art scene known for progressive thought. Dialogues such as these have proved invaluable in the codification for the contemporary movement.

Subsequently we digitised the collection, making it available via our website. This has allowed our codification of the canon and knowledge inherent in our work easily accessible to broader audiences whether they are here in Malaysia or around the world. Bearing in mind very little information on Malaysian art history was available on the international front, the provision of this window of knowledge for audiences previously unfamiliar felt important.

a Chinese style colourful painting of a woman sleeping in a white dress with people around her

Eng Hwee Chu, Lost in Mind

LUX: Who have emerged as foremost among ‘first generation’ contemporary Malaysian artists?
AFK: Zulkifli Yusoff is extremely important amongst the first generation of contemporary Malaysian artists, for his role in the development of conceptual and installation art. He was also the first Malaysian artist to be invited to exhibit twice at the Venice Biennale. The AFK Collection were delighted to loan his seminal installation ‘Kebun Pak Awang’, which is highly characteristic of his research based process and strong artistic skill, to Venice Biennale in 2019.

Fauzan Omar is another key first generation artist, whose importance lies in both his work as an artist and arts educator. Fauzan’s most important contribution was to create a challenge against the perceived sanctity of a canvas’ surface via destructive methods such as ripping and tearing, before engaging in reconstructive methods to build up highly textural mixed media works that changed the way in which art was produced locally. It was an extremely radical practice that has had a lasting impact.

Ahmad Shukri was one of Fauzan’s closest students who has gone on to become possibly Malaysia’s leading mixed media artist.

Ahmad Fuad Osman has emerged as the top multi-disciplinary Malaysian contemporary artist. An extremely conceptual artist, he has mastered diverse genres of art making- from painting to sculpture, video, print and installation- that allow him to consistently produce really exciting and impactful visual art.

Hamir Soib pioneered the trend for monolithic paintings in Malaysia. His paintings easily reach 16 or 20 feet and are filled with complex imagery that speak to the socio-political realities of contemporary Malaysia with a great deal of critical insight and wit. Along with oil and acrylic, Hamir uses bitumen as a paint source, having mastered the ability to use this notoriously difficult substance with the ease of watercolour allows him to create extremely atmospheric gothic images.

A painting of a man in a white outfit and next to it a man in darkness wearing black

Shooshie Sulaiman, Encik Duit Orang

Shooshie Sulaiman, who is currently represented by Tomio Koyama Gallery, always impresses for her conceptually driven installations, performances, and paintings. Pre-production processes are vital for Shooshie, and she engages in them with great poetry. Shooshie has the distinction of being the first Malaysian artist invited to exhibit at Documenta. Along with her artistic practice she has been a successful curator and gallerist.

Jalaini Abu Hassan, who was educated at Slade School of Fine Art, London and Pratt Institute,New York, perfectly encapsulates the demographic shift for rural Malays to urbanised environments that he lived through. His works are expressive and use a range of media, and most excitingly feature classic Malay iconography in super contemporary compositions. A consistent signature across all of Jai’s works are the Malay poems and idioms written in his distinctive hand. Jai has also engaged as an educator for several years, cementing his influence amongst the younger generations of Malaysian artists.

Eng Hwee Chu is a leading Surrealist painter in Malaysia. In the early 1990’s she produced a series titled ‘Black Moon’ that set the standard for Malaysian Surreal and Magical Realism, winning her several awards, and leading to international showings. Her strong figurative skill is apparent through her delight in painting crowds of people, finely finished, as demonstrated in ‘Lost in Mind’.

scarf in gold and black wrapped up in a ball

Hamir Soib, Ahad

Suhaimi Fadzir pioneered a completely new style of assemblage he titles ‘archipainting’. Suhaimi used his training as an architect to fix objects found in the world around him- from a dismantled bicycle to corrugated tin roofs to car bumpers- onto canvases in a style that merged installation, sculpture, and mixed media. It is an extremely radical and innovative practice that visually describes the growth of contemporary Malaysia very well.

LUX: What is your vision going forward?
AFK: Assembling The AFK Collection was not easy. It required a great deal of time, financing and constant discussions with curators and artists. At the same time, it is a body of work that we deeply love and are very proud of. We recognise the effort that went into putting this collection together and we hope that it will continue to be a major resource in creating greater awareness for and education on Malaysian contemporary art. We envision a society that is more knowledgeable on the wonderful Malaysian contemporary art history and artists and a society able to engage in conversation on art as easily as any other topic.

Find out more: afkcollection.com

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Reading time: 10 min
Person running down a road towards snowy mountains
Person running down a road towards snowy mountains

Photo by Andrea Leopardi

Can creating new products be sustainable? Franco Fogliato speaks to LUX about Salomon’s sustainability efforts and how he believes consuming differently can be more important than consuming less

LUX: When did Salomon start focusing on environmental responsibility?
Franco Fogliato: Nature is our backyard. We live in the mountains, we are mountain people. Every time we do something we are trying to be less impactful on nature. Fifteen years ago, we began looking for new technologies, new developments and ways to create positive impact in the way we do things. It has gone from creating shoes that are 100% recyclable, to being the first company in France to make its shoes in our home country, minimising the carbon footprint associated with shipping from factories overseas. These are all initiatives that started ten or fifteen years ago, which have been accelerating ever since.

LUX: How is sustainability at Salomon influenced by its athletes and employees?
FF: We are a company that is led by our athletes. Our athletes are at the forefront of our industry. They push the boundaries of what we do every day to ensure not only that we are the highest performers, but also the most sustainable.

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We also have a generation of employees that are younger, who are in their late twenties and early thirties, and have grown up with sustainability as a daily topic. Sustainability is part of what our teammates want and what they love. Every time they think about a new product, they first think about how they are going to create it without impacting the world and the planet.

Mountain scene with run rising against the rocks

Photo by Kaidi Guo

LUX: How do you approach innovation and sustainability together, ensuring that product development aligns with the brand’s commitment to minimising environmental impact?
FF: It’s a tough conversation. Do you choose the most performant product, which is not sustainable, or do you choose the product which is sustainable but less performant? There are examples every day: we had great shoes which had a great insole, but the insole was unsustainable. We changed the insole with a sustainable insole but which was less resistant, and consumers were not happy. The constant push that comes from athletes and the consumer comes back to our factories and our teams to come out with new technology, that pushes us to the next level.

LUX: Because of your company’s heritage and long-standing reputation in the outdoor industry, do you feel like you have more responsibility than others to be initiating this fight against climate change?
FF: We have to be leaders, it’s not a choice. It’s also what we like to do. It’s pushing the boundaries, in sport and building new products which are more sustainable. Sometimes people use the challenges we face just to make noise, rather than focusing on the actions that are needed. Sometimes my teammates ask me, how we’re going to build the company; people will need to consume less, they say. I say, if you think people will consume less, you are mistaken. There will be new technologies which are a lot less impactful than the way they are today.

LUX: Does creating new products contradict your aim to be environmentally friendly?
FF: I think there is a challenge still on the consumer side where there is a little bit of confusion around what is and is not sustainable. I think people see consuming less as the major driver behind minimising climate change, but in fact the driver is not consuming less but consuming differently.

Sunny mountain scene

Photo by Kalen Emsley

The carbon footprint impact of producing a pair of shoes is equal to driving a car for thirty miles. I have a theory that people should stop using cars and just run. I tell my people that they should stop using their cars to come to work and just run here. Why do you need a car? The human being was built on running. I think really activating a different consumption and pushing people outside is really what we want to do. We have a challenge with sustainability, but we also have a challenge in the evolution of the population globally with the digital. We have to take care of how people will evolve.

Read more: Rapha CEO Francois Convercey on diversity and sustainability in cycling

LUX: What are some of the initiatives at Salomon which have made the biggest difference towards sustainability?
FF: The biggest impact on producing a product is transportation, so there is an opportunity going forward in the evolution of the sourcing base, to source closer to the consumer. Many brands have tried that in the past and failed. Lately we had the French President, who had recognised our efforts, visiting our shoe factory in France. That factory would never have been born without us sharing our talents and skills with the local entrepreneurs. No one knows how to build shoes in France any more, as the entire production of shoes has shifted to Asia or Eastern Europe. These are the efforts which have made us recognised by the press and by the media.

LUX: What set Salomon apart from other outdoor gear brands which are also focusing on the sustainability mission?
FF: We like to think this is not a battle for who does the most. The battle is not between companies, it’s much bigger. We have to be ourselves. We have the first fully recyclable shoes; we were the first to do that in the marketplace a couple of years ago. But if someone comes in and is better than us, great! We’ve got to learn to do better, to improve. This is a battle we all fight together. I don’t have a problem with sharing technologies or doing anything which will help make the world into a better place. For once, it’s a competitive environment where there is a team. We are competing all together to make the planet into a better place.

Find out more: salomon.com

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Birdseye view on blue ocean beside green land with a cyclist riding through the greenery
Birdseye view on blue ocean beside green land with a cyclist riding through the greenery

Butterfield & Robinson’s Dalmation Coast Active trip in Croatia

Mike Scarola is the CEO of Butterfield & Robinson, a luxury travel company with the goal of making a positive impact. He speaks to LUX about connecting with local communities and travelling on two wheels instead of four

LUX: What was the inspiration behind your Slow Find initiative?
Mike Scarola: The Slow Fund is driven by our passion for sustainability, focusing on education, culture, conservation, and preservation. We needed a formal vehicle to give back, which is essentially the genesis of the Slow Fund. Sustainable travel has been in our DNA since the beginning, just by the nature of what we do.

Seeing the world or seeing a region on bikes or on foot, we believe is a better, more sustainable way to travel. Currently we support nine initiatives globally, which range from conserving species and iconic landscapes across Africa, to supporting gender equality in the safari industry, to our art residency in France. The ideas behind the initiatives we choose to support typically come from our guides or our planners, because they know the region and its needs the best. We always aim to support sustainability efforts or cultural initiatives in the regions where we take travellers, and often try to bring our travellers into some of those initiatives while they’re on trip. This allows them to give back to the communities they visit and understand the essence of Slow Travel.

Two chefs cooking pizzas in brightly lit restaurant

Pizza making lessons from a local chef in Italy on the Amalfi Coast Walking tour

LUX: When you first brought in this idea of sustainable travel and travelling on bicycle rather than taking cars, was there a high client demand for it, or was it something that you had to intensively market?
MS: The long story is that our founder, George Butterfield, is an unbelievable trailblazer. He had a huge passion for travel and bringing people to new experiences. He was always trying new trips,  and in the early 70s he decided to try biking and as a part of a travel experience. But first time round, it just didn’t catch on.

Then he had someone in his office who, in the early 80s, started to make a case that we should try this again. He thought that people that are looking for luxury will also want to bike through Europe. George was actually pretty hesitant at the time, but they tried it and it absolutely took off in the early 80s.

LUX: How do you go about tracking your carbon footprint and why do you think it’s important that companies, especially travel companies, need to be doing this?
MS: We’re in our second year of very detailed tracking of our carbon footprint, and the reason we do this is because we want create a positive impact in the world. There’s a real crisis and we’re part of it, but we’re now trying to be part of the solution. The first step that we thought was important was to try to measure our impact. It’s tough, but once you measure that, you can communicate the biggest impacts of what your company has day-to-day on the environment, and then you can start to take solid steps to reduce it. We’ve always thought about the environment and taken steps to improve our trips and reduce our carbon footprint, but this formalisation allows us to track it on an annual basis.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What’s the philosophy behind your travel experiences?
MS: We think there is a large number of travellers who want to be active when they go on vacation, and who will get a better experience seeing a region on two wheels than they will on four. There’s so many regions now that are wonderful to hike through, to bike through, to canoe through, that also have luxury accommodations, which is often really important for us. We always try to bring our travellers to luxury accommodations, to high end food.

Man standing next to his bike by a sunny slanted road

Mike Scarola on the Tuscany Wine Country Biking tour in Italy

LUX: You do a lot of community-based work trying to enhance their lives whilst travellers come and visit. How do you ensure a community focused approach while also balancing client demand?
MS: What we find is that travellers are looking for very authentic experiences. They’re not only looking to stay in the nicest hotel and eat the best meals. They’re looking to feel like they’ve come away with a connection and a deeper understanding of the region, which lines up really well with what we try to do. We try to source from locally-owned businesses and local people to help deliver experiences on the trip. So whether it’s a specialised tour, or  stopping in the middle of your cycle for lunch in a restaurant owner’s backyard, where they’re going to teach you how to make pasta, these are the types of authentic experiences that our travellers are looking for. We work really hard on a day-to-day basis to try to find them and it’s only possible because of the network we have built up . We have about 125 guides that are located around the world, who know their regions intimately and are often the source of new experiences with locals.

LUX: Can you tell us more about your art residency initiative in France?
MS: Certainly. This a partnership with a former guide, who has an art residency program in France. They came to us to say that they often identify fantastic artists who are very much in need of financial aid, who could use our help. That’s all we really needed to know. A passion of ours is being about to support our guides, and to support art and culture. We’ve sponsored a number of artists. The latest one is a Belarussian artist, who had to leave their home country because of what’s happening over in Ukraine. This was a phenomenal artist who really didn’t have anything, and was going to have to give up their passion and give up their talent in order just to survive. So we helped to support.

LUX: What sets Butterfield and Robinson apart from other travel companies in the industry?
MS: The heart and soul of this business are our guides and our experienced designers. I would argue at the end of the day that we have the best guides and the best experienced designers on the planet.

Read more: Travelling Botswana on Eco-Safari, Review

Guides showing a map of Tuscany to people on a cycling tour

Mike Scarola guiding on the Tuscany Wine Country Biking tour in Italy

We always have a get together, a guide kick off at the beginning of the European season in April, and a guide gathering at the end of the European season. They are the most creative, well-travelled individuals who speak multiple languages with stories from the whole year on how they took travellers to amazing spots. We ask our travellers at the end of the trip to rate us on a whole bunch of different metrics, and the guide score is always the highest and most consistent, because they’re so knowledgeable about the region.

LUX: How do you aspire to continue redefining luxury travel in the years to come?
MS: The biggest thing for me is listening to our travellers. Our travellers have been the best source of direction over the last 57 years, and I think they’re going to continue to be. I think the demand for authentic experiences will continue to grow. The other thing is that travellers are looking to have a bit of an impact on their trips as well. I can see us doing it a lot more where they’re not just visiting and learning, but they’re participating, potentially in a project that they do on a trip that you know makes them feel a little more connected, a little more empathy for the region and the culture.

Find out more: www.butterfield.com

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People playing golf in front of the Colosseum

Team Captains Luke Donald of England and Zach Johnson of The United States with the Ryder Cup Trophy at the Colosseum in Rome

Guy Kinnings is the Deputy CEO, Ryder Cup Director & Chief Commercial Officer at European Tour Group & Ryder Cup. Ahead of the Ryder Cup in Rome this weekend, he speaks to Samantha Welsh about the growing enthusiasm for the sport from the next generation and the organisation’s focus on making golf more sustainable

LUX: You are a renowned leader in the golf world; where would you say your focus and relatability have come from?
GK: I originally trained as a lawyer in London and that gave me a good grounding in the commercial world. But as a lifelong sports fan, I always knew I wanted to gravitate towards that world. It’s been three decades for me in the world of golf, and I’ve worked on virtually every aspect of the professional game and enjoyed working with pretty much everyone involved in the game. I worked in every aspect of golf (event staging, sales, media etc) but I also spent many years as a player manager/agent. That job requires you to be a salesman, lawyer, confidante, all-round sounding board and sometimes a shoulder to cry on. I learned the ropes from the legendary Mark McCormack at IMG, who managed the likes of Arnold Palmer and Gary Player and basically invented the role of a modern sports agent. I could not have asked for a better mentor. The Tour is ultimately a Members’ run organisation, so the players are the shareholders that I answer to. Athletes are a unique breed who I have a huge amount of admiration for and I’d like to think I’ve learned what makes them tick.

It’s also crucial to be passionate about what you do if you want to succeed – and I love my job. I get to travel to amazing places (visiting Ryder Cup venues and the legendary Augusta National is an annual highlight) and to spend time with incredibly talented people. I also have an amazing wife and family. She has always been very understanding about the travel and late-night phone calls! Sport is ultimately a relationship-based business and golf tends to attract great people, which helps. It may be a niche sport, but it punches well above its weight because its core values – things like integrity, inclusivity and sportsmanship – are so appealing.

Two men holding a goldtrophy

European Ryder Cup Director, Guy Kinnings and European Ryder Cup Captain, Luke Donald

LUX: How do you think the pandemic affected the global golf industry?
GK: The pandemic was a big shock to the entire sports and entertainment industry, but our Tour faced more challenges than most because of our global nature. We are a travelling circus in many respects, visiting 26 countries this season. When air travel was severely restricted and fans had to stay away, it became a battle for survival. But one of my proudest career moments was seeing how my colleagues managed to overcome so many hurdles. We completely revamped our schedule and quickly set up a sector leading testing and bubble system for players and our staff, which meant we could get back playing earlier than almost any other sport. This allowed us to fulfil broadcaster and sponsor obligations and keep our players competing for prize funds. We learnt a lot and have come out of the pandemic even stronger than before it. It brought the best out of our people at a tough moment.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The pandemic has also been a key factor in driving a big boost in the popularity of golf. We saw big spikes in participation across 2020 and 2021, particularly amongst younger players, and it’s great to see that this trend has continued. I feel like golf is undergoing a cultural moment right now and the launch of the new ‘Full Swing‘ series on Netflix will only help drive this by showing off the sport and its personalities to a new audience. Of course, we also have the Ryder Cup in September, which is always a moment in time when the sport enters mainstream consciousness.

A man playing golf wearing a pink top and white trousers

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland at the DS Automobiles Italian Open 2022 at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome 2022

LUX: What was behind the ET rebrand as DP World Tour and how has this brought about the vision for driving golf further?
GK: We sat down with DP World, a long-standing Tour partner, at the 2019 DP World Tour Championship – our season ending event – and discussed what a bigger relationship might look like. Becoming the Tour’s Title Partner was discussed and it quickly became apparent that there were a lot of synergies there. Changing our brand, with all its history, was not something we took lightly but from a very basic branding perspective the “European Tour” name was increasingly a misnomer anyway. Pre-pandemic, 27 of our 47 events were outside the continent and the idea of rebranding to a “world” Tour had already been floated, so what better way to cement this global footprint than by partnering with a company whose very name encapsulates that?

The extra investment they are making has also helped us to elevate the Tour in every way. We’ve had record prize funds for the past two seasons – no mean feat given the pandemic and global economic uncertainty – and unlocked new funds to further invest in our Golf for Good programme. A good example is the launch of the G4D (Golf for the Disabled) Tour last year. We could create an entirely new Tour for the best disability golfers in the world, who play the same course, the same week, as DP World Tour events across a nine-event schedule. Making golf more inclusive is a big passion point for the Tour and this was a major statement in this area.

Two men holding a trophy

Guy Kinnings presents the trophy to Juan Postigo Arce of Spain after winning the G4D event at Abu Dhabi Golf Club

LUX: What is your vision for raising the profile of the women’s game?
GK: Whilst we are a men’s professional Tour first and foremost, we have worked with our friends at the Ladies European Tour and LPGA Tour to create a series of mixed gender events. In 2022 there was the Volvo Scandinavian Mixed and the ISPS Handa World Invitational. These are great opportunities to show that women’s golf is just as entertaining as the men’s game. In fact, we had the first ever female winner on the DP World Tour in 2021 as Sweden’s Linn Grant won the Scandinavian Mixed. She played unbelievable golf that week and I’m proud that we could give her a platform to compete against her male counterparts. I truly believe that golf can be the most inclusive game in the world. The handicap system in the amateur game means that people can compete against each other on an equal footing, regardless of their skill level, and our mixed gender events are just one way to showcase that ethos. I am also a big fan of the Solheim Cup – which is played the week before the Ryder Cup later this year.

LUX: Have your team had success in reducing environmental impacts?
GK: 2022 saw us measuring our carbon footprint across eight key tournaments to identify a baseline to work from, so full data on our emission reductions have started coming through this year. We have seen some really positive developments. For example, we require a lot of temporary power generators at our tournaments, because a golf tournament is basically held in a large field, and we have switched from traditional diesel generators to bio fuelled powered ones which is reducing emissions by up to 94%. We have also reworked our schedule to try and group tournaments together geographically to reduce air travel and we will be making more headway on that in 2024. We have also started trialling remote TV production techniques with our partner Tata to reduce the amount of people we fly out to events. The recent Singapore Classic was a major trial for us in this respect. We had 29% fewer TV staff in Singapore – they were working remotely in the UK from Stockley Park – which saved 140 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of 850,000km in a diesel powered family car.

A golf tournament

Rory McIlroy of Northen Irleand at the DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

LUX: While you can create KPIs for courses, real estate, logistics, materiel, processes, how do you guide behaviours and set standards for spectators, fans?
GK: We have to bring fans on this journey with us. We have tens of thousands of spectators watching our events each tournament day and they travel to and from the event. Fan travel is included in our net zero commitment, so we need to encourage behaviour change. We can do many things ourselves to help guide them to be more sustainable, such as offering refillable water stations to reduce single use plastic use, offer vegan food stalls, or provide incentives to travel by public transport. But at the end of the day there is only so much we can do and personal responsibility takes over. But sport can be a powerful tool to educate people, so in 2023 we have been really trying to get the message out there to spectators that sustainability is important. We’re launching a fan-focused campaign at the Betfred British Masters where the Tour will be planting 100 trees for every player that manages to drive the iconic par 4 10th hole at the Belfry. Fans can also have a go themselves in a simulator experience. It’s one way to authentically incorporate sustainability into the on-course action, which is not always an easy thing to do. We will also be providing a mechanism at the Ryder Cup where fans on site will be able to calculate their travel footprint and make a payment to offset it.

LUX: LUX approaches the subject of carbon offsetting with care. The World Economic Forum warns it ‘can cause people to disassociate themselves from the issue and deflect attention from the immediate dangers posed by climate change’: is ETG set directly on a path to net zero?
GK: We are indeed. In fact, we recently became the first pro golf Tour to set a net zero target when we signed up to the United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework. We have now committed to halving our emissions by 50% by 2030 and being fully net zero carbon by 2040. As you say, carbon offsetting alone is simply not enough, not least because some off-setting projects can take many decades to have any effect, so it should only ever be seen as complementary to a more robust climate mitigation effort.

Read more: Kelly Russell Catella on sustainable urban planning

LUX: Where is there a role for carbon offsetting and when will you get to carbon neutral?
GK: There will always be certain emissions we incur when staging a golf tournament that are unavoidable, and this is where carbon offsetting can be utilised alongside a robust climate mitigation programme. Off-setting by itself as a standalone approach is not enough of course, and the sports industry seems to be getting that message. We understand that and have embarked on an ambitious climate mitigation programme to reduce our carbon emissions. Some of our events are already carbon neutral – our five Rolex Series events, that represent our biggest tournaments, is carbon neutral this year. The next step, which will take several years, is to get to net zero carbon, which has required a root and branch review of how we stage a tournament and where we can do things differently. Thankfully, our operations teams fully embrace this mission and are passionate about making their events as sustainable as possible – harnessing a little internal competition is not a bad thing in that respect!

Two men holding a trophy on a golf course

Luke Donald of England and Zach Johnson of United States during at Marco Simone Golf Club

LUX: Is driving sustainability having any impact on sponsorship and prize-money? We would love to hear about the approach with partners on working toward sustainability goals.
GK: Without a doubt, and as Chief Commercial Officer I’m at the heart of these conversations. Virtually every sponsorship conversation I have will turn to sustainability at some point. If you do not have a credible sustainability strategy, then sponsors will look elsewhere. We hired our first Head of Sustainability in 2021 to drive this work internally and launched a revamped Green Drive sustainability strategy. This has detailed plans for how we will reduce our carbon footprint. Sponsors are drawn to our leadership in this area and what is really compelling is the ability to work together to use a sponsor’s technology and expertise to help us get to net zero. For example, using BMW’s electric vehicle fleet to transport players and staff at tournaments, or working with our partner OceanTee (who make sustainable golf products) to roll out tees made from bamboo and reusable water bottles at events. These relationships have practical advantages for us and create great brand storytelling opportunities for a sponsor, so it’s a win-win situation. So whilst there’s a moral obligation to do the right thing, let’s not forget that being sustainable makes business sense as well. It’s a virtuous circle.

LUX: We are excited for the Ryder Cup. What is the winning formula for this legendary sporting event?
GK: The Ryder Cup is the moment when golf really enters mainstream culture – it’s up there with the Super Bowl, the World Cup and the Olympics in that respect. When working on it you’re very aware that it is something special, so you have a responsibility to protect and nurture it. In terms of a winning formula, first things first it’s very tribal and this helps bring the casual fan along for the ride. Even if you are not an avid golfer, you can feel an allegiance to Team Europe or Team USA. It also means more to the players. Golf can be quite an insular sport at the pro level, so these guys love coming together every two years and playing a team sport. We also create an unbelievable atmosphere on the first tee. It’s a real amphitheatre and the players all say it’s the most nervous they ever feel. Rome 2023 promises to be particularly special as the location is so iconic. You can actually see St Peter’s Basilica from various spots on the course, so spectators can enjoy one of the world’s great cities when not watching golf.

The Ryder Cup is being held in Rome on Friday 29 Sept – Sunday 1 Oct 2023

Find out more: europeantour.com/dpworld-tour

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Reading time: 12 min
Model in a sparkly designer suit posing by a dark bacground
Model in a sparkly designer suit posing by a dark bacground

The Blaze Milano Gliss Bolero from the Fall ’23 Collection

Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri is a former fashion editor and stylist, and one of the founding members of Blazé Milano, the a hot Italian luxury brand on the womenswear scene. Here, she speaks to LUX in honour of the brand’s 10 year anniversary

LUX: Tell us about where your interest in fashion began.
Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri: Styling and design have been part of my life since my youngest years. I have drawings of the cartoon Jessica Rabbit in various outfits which I must have done in my first days at school, and photo albums of my youngest sister dressed up in my mom’s clothes, patiently posing for me and my imaginary fashion shoots (…I was around 14-15 years old by then). Later on my mother helped me prepare a design portfolio the year before applying for college. I went to NYC and attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, and from there I never stopped.

LUX: Did your upbringing have an influence on your designs?
CR: Most definitely. I have had the incredible fortune to grow up in very colourful and creative homes; my mother is an incredible aesthete, along with being an architect. She has always brought new life to old family properties. Watching her absorbing each step of this process has made me confident with my sense of proportion, colour palettes and composition. Through my mother I had the chance to help restore and renovate – in particular I love retouching antique frescos – and this has become a hobby I cherish deeply.

Corrada Rodriguez d'Acri wearing a Blaze blazer and red shows against an orange wall

Corrada Rodriguez d’Acri

LUX: Can you tell us the story of how you met your co-founders, and when the concept for Blazé Milano was born?
CR: We met through mutual friends and immediately connected, but became close whilst working for Italian Elle, where we worked together as stylists. Blazé was born in those days, around 2012, when we were ready to start an adventure of our own. In 2013, we opened our doors to the world.

LUX: What were the biggest challenges you faced when creating the brand?
CR: At the beginning the hardest challenge was finding the perfect way to divide duties between the three of us and the best way to interact with each other. We were new at everything, so we basically reinvented ourselves as partners, entrepreneurs, and strategic thinkers.

The Serama Bomber from the Fall ’23 Collection

We started on our very own, with no financial help, and we could only count on each other. As the brand continues to grow, everyday is a surprising challenge. We have never taken anything for granted, since even our smallest successes have helped to consolidate this fulfilling present.

LUX: Do you think that fashion design is still a male-dominated space?
CR: Not really. In the past it has been, but now we have Victoria Beckham, Chanel’s Virginie Viard , the Olsen sisters with the amazing The Row, Gabriela Hearst with Chloe and her own brand, Phoebe Philo back soon, Isabel Marant, Dior by Maria Grazia, the Attico girls, Zimmermann, and many more.

Model wearing a brown blazer paired with a red button up

The Everyday Blazer from the Fall’23 Collection

LUX: Ten years on, what do you consider the brand’s greatest achievement?
CR: That our blazers, thanks to our style, aesthetics and trademark Smiley pocket, are recognized worldwide.

LUX: How would you describe the quintessential Blazé Milano aesthetic?
CR: Blazé is timeless, effortless, chic, and wearable anytime, anywhere. When you buy our pieces, you can mix them throughout the seasons.

LUX: What is your favourite piece in the Fall 2023 collection?
CR: The Serama bomber, an oversized jacket with maxi shoulders and an ‘80s vibe – one of my favourites in fashion history.

Sparkly yellow velvet jacket and blue trousers photographed by a digital camera

A shot from the Fall ’23 presentation featuring the brand’s iconic Smiley pockets

LUX: How does Blazé Milano engage with sustainability and the climate crisis?
CR: Since day one we have committed to using the most natural textiles and accessories in the industry. We produce only in Italy; every item is made by Italian artisans and companies, and we are very proud of it.

We committed back in early 2020 with the Green Future project, to reduce the impact of our activities on the planet. Green Future Project is an online platform giving companies and private citizens the opportunity to make a difference and reduce their carbon footprint. A tree is planted with every Blazé purchase.

It is difficult to be 100% sustainable in the fashion world, but by manufacturing long-lasting garments with high-end fabrics, that don’t follow trends in order to never be out of fashion, is already a small but important achievement.

Model in a black dress and heels wearing a grey bomber jacket

Another shot of the Serama bomber

LUX: Would you ever expand into menswear?
CR: We introduced the Daybreak blazer a couple of seasons ago in a style borrowed from menswear, with the addition of our Smiley pockets, a unisex look. We also have a collection of carryover knitwear, marinière and full colour, that can be worn by everyone. Our aesthetic has a masculine feel, but always with a practical feminine touch. Sometimes matched with ruffled shirts or flowy dresses, there is a ’when boy meets girl’ feeling in all the collections.

A complete menswear collection?

We’ll see, maybe one day!

LUX: How do you envision the brand will have changed and evolved by its 20th birthday?
CR: It is a very difficult answer to give, but we really hope to make Blazé a company with solid values and a great team, promoting true Italian elegance as sustainably as possible.

All images courtesy of Blazé Milano

Find out more: www.blaze-milano.com

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Rapha aims to use recycled materials and organic natural fibres across their products

Francois Convercey is the newly appointed CEO of luxury cycling brand Rapha. Here he speaks to LUX about the company’s sustainability initiatives and the need for greater age and gender diversity in cycling

LUX: How has the structure of Rapha changed with the renewed focus on cycling and its benefits since the pandemic?
Francois Convercey: I wouldn’t say that the pandemic and its involvement in cycling actually changed our strategies or the organisation of our business. Rapha already had the focus of making cycling the most popular sport in the world. From day one, we had the ambition of making cycling aspirational and beautiful, and to get as many people as we could to fall in love with the sport.

As much as the pandemic got people to turn their heads towards the outdoors and cycling, it actually acted as a catalyst towards our original purpose and strategies more than anything else. There was a much broader receptive audience for us to engage with – but all the different building blocks and strategies that we had put in place a decade before the pandemic were still very much relevant in the way we have developed our pricing structure and the way we have made the brand more approachable and more relevant to more people. This made it easier for us to capitalise on the renewed interest in cycling – the way we set up as a business, being a direct-to-consumer business in the first place. The pandemic didn’t change much, but it allowed us to accelerate and grow more quickly. It hasn’t made us shift or change the direction of travel for the business. It just reinforced our belief that we are on the right track.

Rapha CEO Francois Convercey

LUX: What do you believe are the imbalances which need to be addressed by sporting brands in conversations about gender equality and diversity?
FC: Cycling as a sport has imbalances which we are trying to address, although it is a long journey. Gender diversity is definitely one of those, which starts at the pinnacle end of the sport, at racing. Equity and equality when it comes to world tour racing and bike racing as a whole is still very imbalanced and focused on male races. Female races have only begun to be broadcasted in the last couple of years. The Tour de France, which is the cycling world’s biggest sporting event and one of the top ten sporting events in the world, didn’t have a women’s tour until 1955, which was then stopped for thirty years, and only reinstated last year. There are still lots of things to be done to provide balance when it comes to media exposure, broadcasting, prize money and salaries for professional cyclists.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

We try to help drive this balance through the storytelling we do, through our initiatives. During last year’s Tour de France we had a collaboration with a streetwear brand PALACE, using our men’s racing team as a billboard to promote the women’s tour. We are making investments on the women’s tour, sponsoring the women’s world tour team, spending 50% of our marketing money on content and athletes on minorities – women and individuals from under-represented backgrounds, which is part of our impact commitment as a brand. I think the gender balance is one of the key imbalances.

Members of the Rapha Cycling Club coming together

There is definitely an element of age; we want more of the youth to look at cycling as an amazing thing to do. Cycling isn’t the most approachable or accessible sport there is – a bike is more expensive than a pair of running shoes, it requires more time and sometimes infrastructures. Five years ago at Rapha, we began supporting cycling at its grassroots and breaking down barriers to make the sport more accessible to young people and under-represented individuals, and people from under-privileged backgrounds. Over the past five years, the Rapha Foundation donated over $5 million in grants to 38 different grantees who all have concrete initiatives to help break down accessibility to the sport and to support under-privileged kids to have access to cycling – whether it’s supporting programs in schools, or young talent programs. We’ve recently partnered with USA Cycling as part of a program called Search for Speed, which is a track cycling talent identification program, looking for the next US track talent for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Gender balance is key, age balance is key. The third to look at is accessibility and the role that cycling can play in helping mitigate access to education and healthcare. There have been fantastic initiatives such as World Bicycle Relief, which we have supported over the years and continue to support with the Rapha Foundation, which gives bikes to communities who need bikes for basic life needs – whether it’s education for children to travel to school and not have to walk, or to provide a level of healthcare and health benefits which individuals deserve. The bike can be an amazing tool to break down accessibility barriers for under-privileged communities.

Items from Rapha’s exclusive Rapha + Paul Smith RCC Collection, launched in 2023

LUX: How do you balance promoting professional cycling and equipment whilst also trying to encourage a new generation of amateur cyclists?
FC: I do not necessarily think they are mutually exclusive. The pinnacle-end of the sport, high-performance racing, is aspirational to many individuals and will continue to be in the future. I think being able to provide the opportunity to make a career in cycling and being in a position to inspire communities and future generations about the sport is an amazing prospect. But we won’t succeed in achieving our purpose as a brand if we only focus on racing.

We also have to work on more accessible and more approachable activities which help people discover the values and joys of being on a bike, and how being on a bike is a remedy to the world’s biggest societal challenges and threats – whether it’s environmental benefits with more people commuting on a bike, whether it’s mental health and personal wellbeing which comes when you spend time with yourself and challenge yourself as an individual, or the social friendship and comradery which comes with being on a bike. I think professional and amateur cycling should co-exist and they have their distinctive role to play.

An image from the Rapha Spring/Summer ’23 Collection campaign

LUX: Can you tell us about the main ways you incorporate sustainability into your company?
FC: Sustainability is central. We’ve always looked at it as a duty we have to do the right thing. We launched a repair program which provides the opportunity for any garment which may be damaged to be repaired. We used to do that in-house. We have started to involve partners to help us do it. Over time, we started to pay more attention to how we make our products and the impact that we have. For the last couple of years we’ve been offsetting all the carbon emissions that are generated from the shipments to customers. We’ve offset 100% of our carbon emissions coming from our logistics impact that we have on the planet.

We have been driving a lot of work to convert 100% of our product range into sustainable materials, whether it’s recycled fabrics, recycled fibres, or recyclable or compostable fibres. We’ve covered about 70% of the range now. We are removing all PFC materials from our weather protection products. We’re taking a much more abrasive stance on excess materials we produce. We are now repurposing excess material through excess collections in the Spring of this year. This is now becoming part of our ongoing initiatives. Although it only accounts for 2% of our total volume, it is still a meaningful initiative.

The Los Angeles Rapha Clubhouse

We are about to publish our second impact report in September, which will show our impact over the last twelve months and how much we’ve progressed. We are ahead of track on some key commitments, and some others we have found more challenging than we hoped, or we realise we needed to communicate in a very different way, or we realised that people, planet and communities take framework for broader impact. It takes time, and we’ve embedded that as a culture and as a priority. We have a small sustainability team, but that team is there to inspire a vision. If it’s not embedded in business, we will never make the progress we want to make.

Read more: Pierre Barreau on the future of AI in the music industry 

LUX: Do you think cities are adapting to cyclists, or is there more to be done?
FC: We’ve seen cities adapting more and more to cyclists. I think the pandemic has been an amazing catalyst for more infrastructure to be provided, but we are far from being in the right place.

We can look at places like Denmark and Holland, where urban commuting is ingrained in the local culture, and see cities which are built around cycling. There is lots of fantastic work being done by cities and local organisations. I’ve seen places like Paris, for instance, make amazing progress over the last three years and transforming the way people can ride through the city in a much safer way.

The RCC is now a global community with over 10,000 members

It’s a constant push and pull. Safety on a bike is still one of the top three barriers from people riding their bikes. More and more people have decided to take their bikes off the road and ride off the beaten track or in front of the TV, because you’re in a safer environment. This shows we are still far from where we need to be to make riding safe, whether it’s inside or outside the city.

LUX: How do cyclist communities created by the Rapha clubhouses influence the outlook of the company?
FC: We’ve always been committed to real-life experiences from the earliest days of Rapha. We call our physical Rapha stores clubhouses, because they are not just stores, they are a home away from home for our customers. In 2014, we launched Rapha Cycling Club which is part of a membership program which gives people access to unique benefits and unique experiences. That community is now made up of 20,000 individuals across the world spread across 25 different chapters. Actively investing in building communities on the ground is a direct consequence of us trying to inspire the world to take up the bike. The RCC and our clubhouses are there to inspire people to go on a ride every day of the week, you will have a collection of rides you can join as a member.

The cycling communities influence the company on a few levels. It pushes the customer-centrality of the brand because of the unique customer-directed nature of the brand we have got to have the customer-mentality and direct relationship. It depends on feedback from customers and RCC members to have that customer-first mentality. As CEO of the company, I can go on a ride tomorrow morning in a London clubhouse and get real-time feedback from our customers on how they feel and what they think.

Find out more: www.rapha.cc

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CMG Orchestra in Hollywood performing a piece composed by AIVA. Photo by Lance Bachelder

AIVA AI is an AI music composer which allows people to create their own personalised life  soundtracks. Here, LUX speaks to its founder, Pierre Barreau, about the future of AI and its impact on the music industry

LUX: Can you give us some background about your company and why you founded it?
Pierre Barreau: AIVA is a company I started almost seven years ago with my co-founder, whom I met at university. We were both musicians and engineers, and there was a natural inclination to start this company with a focus in both fields. The premise we started with was that, while music is an insanely rewarding thing to do and create, it also requires a lot of time, money, and tools. We believe more people out there should be able to create music and would enjoy it, but they don’t have the time or resources.

Our idea was to bring music creation to the masses: we want to help people who are complete amateurs or be able to create music with technology, as well as assisting professional musicians who may just want an assistant to suggest ideas when they have writer’s block, or need a guiding hand to in their creative process.

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LUX: You have both a creative and scientific background, from your filmmaking experience to your studies in computer science and engineering. When did you realise it was possible to marry these two fields?
PB: When you do any sizable project, it becomes very obvious that a good director or composer is one who is well-versed in technology. As a film director, you need to deal with camera software to edit the video you are shooting, you need to deal with lighting. For music creation, it is a bit more nuanced; of course, you can write music with pen and paper, but some of the most prolific music creators these days use their laptops to create music or synthesisers to create music digitally.

You open yourself up to the realm of possibilities if you consider technology as a creative partner when creating music. There is sort of no way, in my opinion, you can be an effective composer or director if you completely shut off technology.

Pierre Barreau

LUX: How would you respond to claims that AI is going to devalue the work of human beings, especially in the creative industries where job security is an issue?
PB: It is an important question; whenever you have a technology that raises the bar for what people are able to do in terms of creating music, it can be a bit scary. But what I would say is that historically there have been other technical advances that have brought music-making to the masses, and these have not reduced human creativity. In fact, they have supercharged it.

When the synthesiser was created, people were very scared that it was going to replace acoustic instruments and that it was going to lead to this world of digital, horrible sounding music. Instead, what it created was a world where we have new genres of music like hip-hop and electronic music. Another example is the invention of the digital audio workstation. It allowed people from their bedrooms to become producers so they didn’t need to hire expensive studios to record their music.

LUX: Can you tell us about your vision to create a personalised life-soundtrack for every person?
PB: I think the interesting thing is using AI to do what we can’t do as humans right now. One such thing is this idea of personalised soundtracks; let’s say you are going running and you want music tailored to your own performance or to stimulate you for the extra mile. Then imagine an AI that could compose what you need based on your own rhythm.

I think that would be a hugely powerful thing to have for very different industries, in this case, running, video games, and interactive content that have a lot of diversity in the gameplay and the stories that they tell, but the music tends to stay the same. Just being able to generate the music as the player moves through the game and the experience, and help them create their own story, can enhance the experience they are having.

LUX: Do you ever think this tool could ever be a danger to society? Could people use it as a means to cause damage?
PB: I don’t think I am worried about the directly manipulative aspects of AI, specifically in music. There could be a lot more said in other domains, like the audio, text and visual domains.

CMG Orchestra in Hollywood performing a piece composed by AIVA. Photo by Lance Bachelder

I think one potential challenge that could be very real is giving powerful tools to those whose intentions are just to flood the market and devalue music by humans. But I think that, fundamentally, human music operates on a completely different set of parameters. We go to concerts not to see a computer performing music but a performer dances, has a show and tells us about their own personal life story through their lyrics. People connect to stars because of their own personal drama and the story surrounding them. I think for that reason, It is more about the economic side, not about manipulation, despite what many depictions of AI would have you think.

LUX: Do you think we could ever get to a point where AI could compose a piece of musical genius, or would they always need human input to do this?
PB: In my opinion, whether we call someone a genius tends to be determined by two things. Firstly, the personal; some people will argue certain composers are geniuses, whilst others will argue totally the opposite. It depends on taste. Secondly, there is hindsight, like how we celebrate composers of the past who weren’t appreciated in their time. I think one of the reasons for that is because, in order to create something which is truly genius, you have to be ahead of your time. It won’t be appreciated immediately, but people will learn.

I think with AI , the aim is to create something humans appreciate now – that’s kind of the point. I am not sure anyone will be able to connect to something that an AI creates that we can’t appreciate now. That is also part of the reason why I am hopeful there will still be human creativity, because we can really only connect to something that pushes the boundaries if it is created by humans, if there is a story behind it. Otherwise, it may be devoid of meaning. But as far as creating something that is exceptionally good in terms of quality, I think AI can definitely do this.

CMG Orchestra in Hollywood performing a piece composed by AIVA. Photo by Lance Bachelder

LUX: How do you imagine an amateur would use your service, and how is this different to the way a professional musician might use it?
PB: For amateurs, the AI will help them to create a composition. Maybe they will modify the composition to better fit what they have in mind, or swap an instrument, add a little bit of musical effects, or switch a few notes here and there. But fundamentally, they will be equal partners, with the AI as writers.
Professionals may use more in-depth features like providing their own musical material instead of letting the AI generate compositions based on that. In general, Making a more in-depth modification of the material is usually the difference between the two.

LUX: Will AI be able to create experimental music like the kind that has never been heard before, or would it always be taken from what’s already existed?
PB: It is very possible to do something that does not exist. But again, we go back to this idea of being able to appreciate what pushes the boundaries, and I think it is harder for humans to appreciate something that is truly out there if it is created by a machine. Whereas, if it is created by humans, it is easier to find a way to connect to the story behind it, which leads you to appreciate this novel idea. Whilst it is functionally possible to do it, I don’t think it creates as much value as when a human does it.

Read more: Deutsche Bank’s global innovators meet in Silicon Valley

LUX: Do you think musicians today are welcoming this kind of innovation, or do you anticipate any backlash to this? What responses have you received so far?
PB: Both. Some people are extremely enthusiastic, even some professional composers that see it as an extension of their own abilities, as a tool. And then there are some people who are completely against it. Looking back at previous technological innovations, it is pretty much the same as before. There tends to be a change of opinion when people try it. Once they begin to try the software, they quickly realise it is just a tool. But when you just talk about AI music on a high-level, conceptual basis, people might be more inclined to fill in the blanks and think the technology is something that it actually isn’t, or does something that it actually can’t do. And so, for that reason, the feedback tends to be quite positive when people tend to use the product themselves instead of discussing high-level concepts.

Find out more: aiva.ai

All photos courtesy of AIVA AI

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Photo by Louise Jasper

Alasdair Harris founded Blue Ventures, an ocean conservation enterprise supporting local fishing communities. Here, he speaks to Trudy Ross about the work they do across the globe, and the greatest challenges facing our oceans today

LUX: You have described yourself as a ‘reluctant social entrepreneur’. Can you expand on this?
Alasdair Harris: I studied zoology at University in Scotland, and was quickly hooked on marine science. I was enormously lucky to have an opportunity to study the impacts of climate change on reefs in the Indian Ocean, but was horrified by what I learned of the forecasts of ocean warming, and what that meant for the future of coral reefs. It wasn’t until I got to Madagascar − one of the poorest countries on earth − that I learned that there were also dire human implications of these unprecedented environmental changes. In particular, the impacts that climate change and overfishing were already having on the many millions of people in coastal communities that depend on the sea for their daily survival.

As a biologist I knew that the ocean is phenomenally productive, and that marine ecosystems have an amazing power to restore themselves, if we just give them the breathing space to recover. Working in Madagascar, I was struck by the overwhelming need to help communities cope with the challenges they faced from collapsing fish stocks. I saw that there was a critical need for conservation that worked for rather than against communities, harnessing the natural regenerative capacity of nature to help rebuild fisheries. But I realised that my PhD studies weren’t really going to help. So I hung up my diving fins and, with a couple of friends, I set up an organisation to try to work with coastal communities to explore ways of helping villages take practical action to rebuild their fisheries.

Photo by Garth Cripps

LUX: Can you provide some background on Blue Ventures, your goals, values, and the kinds of projects you run?
AH: Blue Ventures is a marine conservation organisation that works with coastal communities to rebuild fisheries, restore ocean life, and build lasting pathways to prosperity. We partner with traditional fishers and community-based organisations to design, scale, strengthen, and sustain fisheries management and conservation at the community level. We also bring partners together in networks to advocate for reform and share tools and best practices to support fishing communities across the globe.

Our work has helped to establish and protect vast swathes of coastal waters in Locally Managed Marine Areas, including the largest such areas in the Indian Ocean. We have also enabled fishers to boost their catches and incomes, improve their food security, and restore ocean life.

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In 2003, we started with one community in southwest Madagascar. Today, we are working across 14 countries across the tropics, protecting 17,000 km2 of vital ocean habitat and impacting the lives of more than 650,000 people.

LUX: Do you ever face resistance from locals, for whom fishing is their livelihood, when you recommend strategies which differ from their own? How do you approach this?
AH: Our approach is to work with communities to draw on the local knowledge, so that fishermen and women can come up with their own solutions to the challenges facing their seas. We can help with harnessing the power of data to enable communities to better interpret and visualise what’s going on in the water, and also by brokering learning exchanges with other communities that have piloted similar work and interventions elsewhere. We’ve helped build friendships and relationships between countless communities from dozens of countries over the years, from as far afield as Mexico and Mozambique – with community members travelling to meet others facing similar challenges.

Mangrove forest, Lambaora, south west Madagascar. Photo by Garth Cripps

LUX: What are the biggest challenges facing the fishing industry and our oceans, and what should corporations and governments be doing to combat this?
AH: The biggest challenge facing ocean fishing today is the total control and dominance of the sector by a small, and frequently highly destructive minority of predominantly unsustainable actors: so-called industrial fishing boats and companies. Conversely, the biggest group of ocean users – known as small-scale fishers – typically fishes relatively sustainably, and targets catches for local consumption and trade, supporting the livelihoods of over 100 million people, and feeding well over 1 billion.

Yet this population, which lives overwhelmingly in the so-called Global South, rarely has a voice in decisions regarding how, where, or when fishing takes place. The majority of fishing is carried out by politically powerful industrial fishing interests, which catch around one half of our seafood globally, and cause staggering damage to our oceans. The biggest proportion of this industrial catch is caught by bottom trawlers, vessels that drag weighted nets over the seabed to scrape up seafood. In some parts of the world over half of all seafood landed is caught in this way. Bottom trawling can be hugely devastating for marine ecosystems and those who rely upon them to eat and to live.

Drone shot over Barry’s Place, Atauro. Photo by Matthew Judge

LUX: Can you tell us about your work with maternal and child health, and why this is important to you?
AH: Given the lack of basic services in many remote coastal regions, in some countries we also help communities access basic healthcare through training and supporting women to serve as community health workers. We do not replace government health systems, but work to strengthen existing structures in close collaboration with government health actors and specialist NGOs. We also incubate Madagascar’s national health-environment network, which brings together 40 partner organisations to address the health needs of communities living in areas of conservation importance across the country.

Read more: Wendy Schmidt on philanthropy, technology and unexplored oceans

LUX: How can we utilise data and technology to improve the management of small-scale fisheries?
AH: Technology can play a transformative role in our mission, improving the speed, efficiency and inclusivity with which we work and communicate. From VR headsets that help communities visualise the underwater benefits of marine recovery, to satellite sensors that can track ocean warming, or monitor recovery of mangrove forests from space and provide. We’re committed to putting data and information in the hands of communities, to empowering them with the knowledge they need to rebuild fisheries.

Photo by Leah Glass

LUX: Do you believe it is possible for people to engage with marine tourism while promoting sustainable practices?
AH: Absolutely! Tourism done well can provide vital income for coastal communities worldwide, demonstrating the value of protecting the ocean. Done badly tourism can quickly undermine ecosystems, cultures and livelihoods. As tourists we have a huge role to play in being judicious in how we travel, and what practices and services we choose to support with our custom.

LUX: Finally, what advice would you give to an aspiring social entrepreneur looking to make a difference in the realm of sustainability?
AH: We’re living in an ecological emergency of unimaginable proportions and consequences. Ours is the last generation with a realistic chance of helping our species change course without causing irreparable harm to future generations and without causing catastrophic harm to most other species on our only planet. Change happens when an individual makes a decision to act. Don’t wait for someone else.

Find out more: blueventures.org

All photos courtesy of Blue Ventures

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Teahpoo Bubble, 2 August 2017, Teahupoo, Tahiti, French Polynesia. © Ben Thouard

As Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, a central pillar of Patricia Scotland’s diplomatic work is to help the group of 56 Commonwealth countries – many with historical links to the UK – adapt to the impacts of climate change. It is an issue she knows all about

Scotland first became familiar with the effects of climate change in August 1979, when she was 24. In that month Hurricane David, a category 5 tropical storm, made landfall in her country of birth, Dominica, in the Caribbean. “It was one of the biggest category 5 hurricanes we’d seen,” she says. The damage was devastating: Dominica’s capital, Roseau, was described as “resembling an air raid”. Around three-quarters of Dominica’s population were made homeless and three-quarters of banana and coconut crops were destroyed.

“I remember it so graphically,” says Scotland. “My father, who was a very skilled carpenter-builder, left the UK and went to Dominica for months to help rebuild, because people had no houses and nowhere to stay. And it was a great shock.”

At the time, it was assumed that such severe storms would occur perhaps once a lifetime. But, owing to climate change, they may be becoming more frequent, as Scotland is only too aware, following two further disasters related to climate-change hazards. In August 2015, Tropical Storm Erika caused severe damage in Dominica and neighbouring countries. Then, in 2017, came Hurricane Maria.

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“It was the biggest hurricane the world had seen at that point,” remembers Scotland. Another category 5, Hurricane Maria encompassed the entire nation. “Everyone on the island was impacted,” she says. Dominica is thought of as a natural idyll with lush green vegetation, but when Scotland visited that year she barely recognised it. “Even the bark from the trees had been removed. I remember looking at one tree – it had one leaf and everything else was brown.” Decades of development, from bridges and schools to roads and houses, had been ripped from the ground and dumped in the sea.

Four decades on from her initial experience, the challenges, says Scotland, are to be ready for hurricanes and storms. “How can we build resilience while also mitigating the issue of climate change more broadly?” she asks. Today, these challenges, which also include encouraging financial institutions to step up and get creative, have become part of Scotland’s job.

Patricia Scotland was born in Dominica in 1955, moving at the age of two with her family to London, UK, where she still lives. In the 1970s she obtained a law degree and was called to the bar, and in 1991 she made history by becoming the first black woman appointed to be what was then a Queen’s Counsel (QC), marking her as an elite lawyer.

Later, in the 1990s, Scotland entered the UK government, holding a number of posts related to law and diplomacy, including a stint as Attorney General, the government’s most senior legal adviser. Her post came to an end in 2010, when the UK government changed. Then, in 2016, Baroness Scotland took up her current role as the sixth Secretary- General of the Commonwealth, a post she holds until 2024.

The Right Honourable Baroness Scotland

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of countries, many of which were once part of the British Empire. Established following decolonisation to maintain the links between the countries, today there are 56 members. Commonwealth states are on the front lines of climate change, says Scotland.

Of the 56 countries, 33 are small states, and 25 of those are small island developing states. “We’d rather call them ‘big blue ocean states’,” she says. “Some of them have [marine] jurisdictions larger than the largest big land states.” These states are heavily exposed to sea-level rise and tropical cyclones, and many depend on marine ecosystems such as coral reefs – which are also threatened by climate change.

Extreme weather events such as hurricanes will keep happening, but, as Scotland points out, we can reduce the impacts if we take action. There are two major approaches to climate change, which go hand in hand: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation means cutting greenhouse-gas emissions as much and as fast as possible, so the climate changes as little as possible. Alongside this, adaptation means helping countries and communities become resilient to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. Communities that have adapted suffer fewer deaths and less damage from extreme weather events, and recover more quickly and thoroughly. But adaptation costs money.

In 2009, developed countries promised to finance adaptation programmes in developing nations. They committed to provide $100 billion per year by 2020. “It was a bold recognition that this was necessary in order to assist those member states that had not contributed to the creation of the crisis,” says Scotland. “This was a real question of equity and fairness, because they were the ones who were going to have to adapt and mitigate a situation that they had not created.”

However, the promise was broken: even in 2023, annual adaptation funding is far short of $100 billion. “Although the world made that commitment, it didn’t actually identify how the $100 billion was going to be raised,” says Scotland. Worse, some governments were still contesting the reality of climate change. “That seems unreal now in 2023, but it was very real in 2009.”

And today, the adaptation bill has gone up, partly because of inflation, and partly because the delay has meant more urgency and more severe impacts. A 2021 UN Environment Programme report estimated just how much money is required annually for environmental projects, including adaptation. The bill comes to more than $500 billion per year. Other estimates are even higher. The bill for climate adaptation and other environmental needs will keep going up the more we delay, but there is a silver lining, says Scotland. Investing in adaptation reduces future costs and will enable the global economy to grow more. “This is a real invest-to-save,” she says.

The challenge is mobilising the money. It’s a multi-pronged challenge, but innovative financial strategies are a “really important” part of the solution, says Scotland. Several strategies have been proposed, and she says governments and funders should cast a wide net. “It’s not either-or, it’s all of them. People tend to say, ‘we’ll do this or we’ll do that’. It’s not ‘or’, it’s ‘and, and, and’.”

The Crack, 8 September 2017, Teahupoo, Tahiti, French Polynesia. © Ben Thouard

One useful form of finance is debt restructuring. Many developing countries have significant debts that reduce their ability to pay for new projects and make it harder for them to raise money from elsewhere. Countries like Dominica took out loans to pay for infrastructure, but when the hurricanes destroyed the infrastructure the government still had to pay the debts. “You still have that high level of indebtedness, but then you have to build back better [to become resilient],” says Scotland. “The costs are two or three times higher, but you’re burdened with the last debt with no relief.” This creates a “terrible cycle”.

To tackle this issue, multiple initiatives are helping countries manage or reduce their debt. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the G20 countries created a Debt Service Suspension Initiative. This relieved the debts of dozens of low-income countries, helping them to fight the pandemic, but it expired in December 2021. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth offers its member states a number of tools to manage their debts. The more that low-income countries can control their debts, the more money they will be able to raise for adaptation.

A related concept is a debt-for-nature swap. Here, a country has some of its debt written off, and, in exchange, the government commits to undertake environmental-protection initiatives, which can include climate adaptation. The Seychelles, a Commonwealth member, is a prominent success story. In the 2010s, the country set out to convert $21.6 million of its national debt into nature programmes. These included financing for climate adaptation by improving management of coasts, coral reefs and mangroves – all of which protect against tropical storms and rising seas, and provide other ecosystem services.The country also protected some of its waters.

Read more: Jean-Baptiste Jouffray on the future of the world’s oceans

Scotland says it’s essential to help countries obtain the climate money that is out there. “Most of the countries, unfortunately, that are most in need are least able to get access,” she says. Often they are told that they do not have enough empirical data to support their application, or that they haven’t followed arcane bureaucratic procedures. Scotland compares it to Waiting for Godot. In response, the Commonwealth has created a Climate Finance Access Hub, which provides expert advisers to help countries navigate the application processes. “We’ve already delivered into the hands of our small developing member states $70 million,” says Scotland. The pandemic caused delays, but more is coming. “We have over $420 million worth of projects in the pipeline.”

For Scotland, it’s creative and collaborative projects like these that will ensure countries adapt to climate change. “I believe we can do this,” she says. “This is a matter of choice.”

Perhaps it should be no surprise that an organisation like the Commonwealth, which has such a mix of countries among its members, is ahead of the curve on tackling climate change. Back in 1989, three years before the Rio Earth Summit, where countries agreed in principle to stop climate change, the Commonwealth issued the Langkawi Declaration on the Environment. The declaration highlighted “the serious deterioration in the environment” and called on governments to commit to “sustainable development”. More than three decades later, everyone else is catching on.

Find out more: thecommonwealth.org

This article was first published in the Deutsche Bank Supplement in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 8 min
A woman wearing a white and blue dress sitting on a blue and white sofa
A woman wearing a white and blue dress sitting on a blue and white sofa

Hilary Weston, at home in Windsor

As co-founder of Windsor, a private residential community along Florida’s Treasure Coast, Hilary Weston is also Creative Director of The Gallery at Windsor. The serial philanthropist and scion of the retail family talks to LUX’s Candice Tucker about contemporary art, community, creatives – and why she pays no attention to the art market

LUX: What do you hope to achieve in art?
Hilary Weston: Art has been part of the fabric of Windsor since the community’s early days [Weston founded Windsor with her husband Galen, who died in 2021]. Over the years, The Gallery at Windsor has developed a reputation for staging exhibitions that present the very best of contemporary art. This latest exhibition by Sir Tony Cragg continues our desire to present the talents of some of the most important contemporary artists of our time.

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LUX: How is the art-collecting community growing in Windsor?
HW: The Gallery at Windsor is at the heart of Windsor’s Cultural Art Programme, which encourages all Windsor members to participate in the arts, whether it be contemporary art in the gallery, performing arts, film or literature. I hope the success of the gallery has contributed to the culture of collecting at Windsor. Many pieces from the gallery’s exhibition series have remained at Windsor in our members’ homes. We are just over a two-hour drive north of Miami – a global capital for contemporary art, and the energy of Miami can be felt in Windsor, especially around Art Basel Miami Beach.

A wooden sculpture and a red sculpture on podiums next to eachother

The Gallery at Windsor was founded in 2002, as an inde