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Back to the Future

by Rona Berg

A partnership between a luxury hotel, the portuguese government and a group of local artisans.

When you pull up to the entrance of the five-star Anantara Vilamoura Resort in Portugal’s Algarve, known for its beautiful beaches and brilliant skies, an elegant and tidy little storefront is certain to catch your eye.

The shop, called Tasa, is the brainchild of the Anantara Vilamoura, in collaboration with Projecto Tasa —a partnership between the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR Algarve), a Portuguese government organization; a group of local artisans; and Proactivetur, a responsible tourism company. All teamed up to support artisanal traditions in the region and share high-quality local crafts with visitors and guests.

The shop features traditional Algarvean crafts with a refreshingly modern twist. A cork ceiling lamp with a brightly painted lampshade, a handwoven cushion cover embroidered with a jaunty donkey, heather wood and clay salad servers, are just a few of the delightfully whimsical pieces on display. According to Joao Ministre, general director, Projecto Tasa, “Tasa connects artisans with young designers to create craft in a more modern way. The idea is to reinvent and rethink these objects, make them meaningful and keep the traditions alive.”

The project began with the idea of preserving and passing down traditions for future generations, and creating an economic model that enables an aging population, many of whom live in remote rural communities, to thrive now. “The mindset is to make sure they’re paid well and their work is valued,” Ministre says. “Many of these crafts are thousands of years old. They were originally intended to make useful objects—painted pottery jars for olive oil, woven baskets to carry vegetables—that are now mass produced or no longer used. We’re giving a new meaning to old craft to adapt it to modern use.”

Tasa decides what is featured in the shop, and its partnership with Anantara Vilamoura is the first of what will, hopefully, be other opportunities to share quality artisanal pieces with the world, as global travelers pass through. Artisans and designers are invited to run workshops at the store, where hotel guests get the opportunity to learn how these beautiful pieces are made. The goal, Ministre says, is sustainability: to create markets for traditional workmanship and local crafts.

“We need to give more value to these arts, or they will be gone,” he says.

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