Milan Design Week: The Kârvan Journey

Featuring designers

TIGRAN ERDMAN – Product and furniture design (Uzbekistan)

UYA NOMAD – Product and interior design (Kyrgyzstan)

ORO – Interior and product design (Tajikistan)

CAMEL WOOL – Textile design and production (Turkmenistan)

AIKEN – Fashion and product design (Kazakhstan)


With special guests


This year, for the very first time, EFI will bring both Central Asian designers and artisans from around the world to Milan Design Week, the world’s most important design event. The Kârvân Journey exhibition (a nod to the caravans that travelled the Silk Road, a fertile ground for exchange of goods, ideas, and culture) will be taking place at the Alcova gallery space in Milan, from June 5th to June 12th. Curated by Cristiano Seganfreddo, it will present a vibrant and contemporary demonstration of culture, life, local material and techniques, with the support of UNESCO and the European Union.

After several terms of the Accelerator with African fashion designers, Ethical Fashion Initiative expanded the programme in 2021 to work with homeware designers based in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The mission of the Accelerator is to bring to the world stage new design talent and the work of master craftspeople and artisans.

UYA Nomad from Kyrgyzstan will present their label as part of The Kârvân Journey this Milan Design Week from June 5th to 12th at Alcova

The journey starts in the context of EFI’s Accelerator program, in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, where five emerging homeware designers have produced collections along with EFI. Designers Tigran Erdman, UYA Nomad, Aiken, Oro and Camel Wool will be presenting for the first time in Europe, marking a new chapter in international design.

Showing alongside the Central Asian Accelerator designers will be a group of artisans from around the world, many whom ancestors traded along the great Silk Road. Meticulously crafted Uzbek Ikat and delicately embroidered Tajik fabrics demonstrate the rich culture of textile production in the region. Crossing continents to West Africa, we meet EFI artisans from Burkina Faso and Mali, expertly crafting Faso Dan Fani, Indigo and Bogolan fabrics that reveal their great skill and profound intimacy with natural materials. Positive change in society today has its roots in cultures that span generations.

The EFI Accelerator supports brands like Camel Wool in Turkmenistan, photographed here, to grow their local supply chains , creating work for artisans and craftspeople.

Guiding EFI on the Kârvân Journey as guests, will be two acclaimed designers: Cheick Diallo (Mali) and Sam Baron (France), long-time champions of new design talent: Baron has worked with Central Asian artisans to create a unique piece just for the exhibition and Diallo’s selection of Malian furniture is a prime example of innovative design as a force for good. Both of them will display their works on show during the event at Alcova.

Curated by Cristiano Seganfreddo | Exhibition design by NM3

Tigran Erdman from Uzbekistan will present his project Seven Planets, at The Kârvân Journey, alongside 4 other designers from Central Asia.

About EFI, the European Union and UNESCO

For the Ethical Fashion Initiative, lifestyle choices impact livelihoods. EFI creates and strengthens social enterprises in emerging economies, connecting discerning international brands in fashion, interiors, fine foods and the arts with talented local artists, designers, artisans, and micro-producers. Savvy investors, pro-poor champions, and mindful consumers find value in a virtuous circle that creates not just premium products, but also stable, dignified work, and creative and resilient women, men and communities.

The EU and UNESCO support EFI’s cultural activities. More than any other product, culture reflects a people’s uniqueness, value and heritage. Strengthening culture sectors builds social capital and reinforces identities, as well as generating trade and business opportunities. EFI showcases creativity and talent in sectors like art, photography, cinema and music, working with the private sector to strengthen culture sectors and increase cultural exports.