“There is still a strong awareness of working with your hands”

From left to right: Andrei Georgescu (Meșteshukar ButiQ), Peter Weisz, Christine Koblitz (Wien Museum), Alina Serban (ERSTE Foundation), Franz Karl Prüller (ERSTE Foundation), Nadja Zerunian, Nea Aurel Craciun (silversmith), Hajni Bessenyei (ERSTE Foundation), Victor Dulgheru (Meșteshukar ButiQ)

On 9 and 10 May we spent two days at the Wien Museum together with our partners from Romano ButiQ Association and eematico-ikedoo, in an atmosphere of great energy, creativity and a lot of fun.

For the first time in Vienna, Romano ButiQ Association showcased a brand new collection of Meșteshukar ButiQ (MBQ) products created by Roma artisans from Romania together with renowned Austrian designers Nadja Zerunian and Peter Weisz – a cooperation that takes place within our ERSTE Foundation Roma Partnership.

After many months spent by Nadja and Peter with the handicraftsmen and -women in their rural communities in Romania, after a lot of work, developing ideas and training, the result is there: new hand-made products that reinterpret the traditional Roma motifs in a modern way. Silver jewelry, products made of copper and iron, basketwork, woodcarvings – they were all created with the old traditional processes and tools, but having in mind the modern trends.

DSC05352“From the broom makers in Clejani to the coppersmiths in Medias, I’ve never heard: “This is impossible!”, which is a phrase designers know all too well. The craftsman is your partner. Developing a product is a shared experience. (…) Nevers, our wonderful silversmith, not only displayed his works for the first time in two renowned contemporary jewelry exhibitions in Bucharest, but was also able to resign from his part time job as the head of a warehouse. He now works full-time for MBQ as a silversmith and is able to support his family.” Nadja Zerunian



“I was able to teach some techniques to Lenuta, the tailor from Bucharest. She understood that the right draping and ironing technique makes all the difference between H&M and Dior. Each time I visit her, she learns more and we’re slowly but steadily managing to build up a tailor’s workshop. (…) Together we created seven collections and for the eighth we intentionally opted for a minimalist design. She was proud and happy when she saw the final result.” Peter Weisz

DSC05368The products were showcased in a special pavilion in front of the Wien Museum, and are also available in the new Roma ButiQ concept-store located in Bucharest, on 17 Edgar Quinet Street. And soon people will be able to order them online on www.mbq.ro.

“A man without culture is like a tree without leaves: empty and dry.” Nea Aurel Craciun, silversmith from Romania

DSC05383While in front of the museum those passing by could visit the exhibition and watch Nea Craciun (Roma artisan from Alexandria, southern Romania) work on silver jewelry pieces with his 30-year old tools, inside the museum there was a lot of action as well: 25 children learnt everything about copper.

Copper is a material that is most familiar to and mastered by the Roma community artisans. Together with the eematico-ikedoo trainers from Romania, who are specialized in experiential learning, the children built a rocket out of copper tubes, with a bipolar engine and a small circuit with batteries meant to be used inside the rocket.


_MG_9076“Playing is the main learning mechanism and making is its most advanced form.” Ion Neculai, eematico-ikedoo

At the end, the children covered the rocket with brightly painted paper.



A team of Education PRO-SPECT organization led by Vera Lackova joined us as well, documenting the two events. Vera, a Roma journalist from Slovak Republic, initiated the Media Voice, a programme of multimedia workshops targeting youth in disadvantaged communities in order to prepare them for employment in the field of video-making. Two of Vera’s students accompanied her to our events in Vienna for a training session on the spot!


In the future, Vera hopes to establish a social enterprise that will produce high quality video materials. We are convinced she will make it!

Romano ButiQ Association
(Bucharest, Romania) was founded in 2011 in order to preserve the cultural and artistic heritage of the Roma communities. Their label Meşteshukar ButiQ is also a network of social economy enterprises which aims at revalorization of the traditional Roma trades.

eematico-ikedoo (Bucharest, Romania) focuses on experiential learning and has developed a mobile lab which prepares less privileged Roma and non-Roma youth for their future professional life.

Education PRO-SPECT (Brno, Czech Republic) offers audio-video and photo trainings for young people in order to prepare them for employment in this field.

All three organisations are supported within the ERSTE Foundation Roma Partnership.

The events took place at the Wien Museum on 9 and 10 May as part of the “Romane Thana. Places of the Roma and Sinti” exhibition programme.

Photos by: Vera Lackova & team (Media Voice) and Andreea Gurau (ERSTE Foundation)
Text by: Andreea Gurau