A renewed interest for crafts and their role in local development is evident in EU policies as well as national and local public actions. On the one hand, crafts are seen as an important part of the European cultural heritage, and they materialize regional cultures that are distinct and defy the notion of uniformity in our globalized world. On the other, Technological advancements, alternative economies and sustainable ways of living are transforming craft work while at the same time renewing its relevance in contemporary society. The EU Horizon research project HEPHAESTUS focuses on the safeguard and renewal of traditional crafts by cross-pollinating traditional techniques and new technologies, exploring new business and organizational models and innovating in light of circularity and sustainability.

One of the challenges for traditional crafts such as glass blowing, weaving and pottery is that they are unfamiliar or invisible to many in the modern world, even though handcrafted products have qualities which industrialized, mass-produced goods do not always have.


The research project is led by Copenhagen Business School and involves a European consortium of academic and non-academic actors, namely HDK-Valand at the University of Gothenburg, IT University in Copenhagen, Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, BOFA (Bornholms Affaldsbehandling), Confartigianato Bassono del Grappa (Craftmakers’ association in Bassano del Grappa), the FabLab in Venice.

HEPHAESTUS wants to establish a European community of craft markers interested in exploring the future of craft together through a formative journey of four years. This community will include 25-30 craftmakers from five craft ecosystems: Dals Långed/Fengerfors in Sweden, Bornholm in Denmark, Venice and Bassano del Grappa in Italy and Faroe Islands. Five to six craftmakers will be chosen for each ecosystem, representing different materials and approaches.

The artisans, who will meet across disciplines and origins, will make use of FabLabs, which will provide new technology to develop novel, sustainable production methods. They will provide inspiration to the researchers, who will develop: 

  • new sustainable business models based on research on innovation, entrepreneurship, and lifelong learning.
  • new ways of sharing knowledge about crafts through digital libraries and museums
  • guidance for policy makers on safeguarding and developing crafts and cultural heritage so that they live up to the New European Bauhaus principles of sustainability and enrichment through culture.

HDK-Valand researchers in the project are Elena Raviola (leader of the research team at HDK-Valand), Helena Hansson, Ulises Navarro Aguiar, Karl Hallberg and Samantha Hookway.


Elena Raviola
Research team leader
Professor, Ph.D.
Tel:+456 766184516

Helena Hansson
Local main researcher/Dalsland
Tel:+456 703747827