ISTA.CO Art – a social enterprise for people with disabilities with handmade products from Van Phuc silk fabrics participates in the Vietnam Creative & Design Festival 2020 with a series of Workshops: Experience of making pictures from rags. We had the opportunity to interview Mr. Le Viet Cuong – the “special” founder of ISTA.CO Art, to better understand his vision and creative perspectives for sustainable development.
With this desire, in 2017, he founded the cooperative ISTA.CO Art, a social enterprise with employees who are people with disabilities and their relatives.
Mr. Le Viet Cuong (left) and guests experience silk painting
For those who do not know, ISTA.CO Art is a workshop for the production of handicrafts for people with disabilities, with the main product being canvas paintings inspired by folk paintings. Through self-discovery and research, ISTA.CO Art now produces t-shirts, tote bags, wallets and many other lovely things. ISTA.CO Art is trying to design and create new and artistic creations. The material of ISTA.CO Art is Van Phuc silk, a traditional product that seems to be overwhelmed by the wave of cheap goods from China.
Experience making pictures from rags at ISTA.CO Art
ISTA.CO Art also has other side activities, such as the experience of making pictures from rags and visiting the Van Phuc silk village. Through this experience, ISTA.CO Art introduces participants to Vietnamese folklore, products of Van Phuc traditional silk village and the talents of ISTA.CO Art members.
According to UNICEF Viet Nam, the majority of families with people with disabilities are often poorer, children with disabilities are less likely to attend school, and employment opportunities for people with disabilities are also lower. Mr. Le Viet Cuong is trying to fix this. In order for people with disabilities to come to work at ISTA.CO Art, Mr. Cuong knocks door-to-door, advocates and convinces each family. If he doesn’t have a job, he teaches or invites people to teach. The views of him and those who support ISTA.CO Art are:
People with disabilities who have health need to work, so that they can improve their own lives. Instead of doing charity, we need to direct them (people with disabilities) to make competitive, livable products and services in the market. Only then will their work and life be stable and sustainable.
Creativity to survive and develop sustainably
When I did this, at first I thought I was just looking for a job for the disabled, but I didn’t think it was a creative idea.
Silk mosaic products of ISTA.CO Art
ISTA.CO Art is the first handicraft business in Vietnam that has the technique of stitching silk onto fabric, creating works on T-shirts, long wallets or tote bags. Le Viet Cuong said that the most important thing is to make a difference, products and business models must be new, must be different from existing products or business models. That is the attraction, attracting everyone’s attention to ISTA.CO Art. Many people can’t help but be surprised when they see the products of ISTA.CO Art for the first time. No one thought it was silk stitched to a canvas bag, onto a t-shirt, or even a finished picture. And what’s even more special is that the silk work can be washed normally. It is thanks to these different creations that ISTA.CO Art has created a place for itself.
According to Mr. Cuong, if ISTA.CO Art imitates old models, it will not be able to develop products and create sustainable jobs for people with disabilities.