Rizwan’s career epitomizes his dedication towards the revival and development of the rural craft. More and more artistic communities are succumbing to the lure of the industrial sector and leaving their cultural and traditional skill bases for the sake of economic viability. In these dire circumstances, Rizwan has made it is his aim to seek out indigenous techniques and prevent their extinction. Working extensively with artistic communities, he streamlines their handicraft onto contemporary silhouettes, ensuring that their workmanship is showcased in the best way possible and that they manage to earn enough to sustain themselves.
The designer is a founder member of the government-based AHAN (one village one craft) and has worked as a consultant for the company, conducting surveys across Pakistan’s four provinces and identifying communities specializing in various cottage industry level craft-based skills. He has also worked with UNDP, USAID and various other donor agencies involved in funding community-based projects with AHAN in NWFP, Punjab, and Sindh.
This has eventually lead to the establishment of Bunyaad, a project that prioritizes craft revival and sustainable income generation for indigenous artisans. Rizwan has also been selected by NAMA, UNHCR as official Design Consultant, facilitating cross-cultural craft development between Pakistan and the rural Emirati region. Within Pakistan, he is working with NAMA, UNHCR to preserve and develop the craft of refugee communities.
His work in empowering rural women and efforts in advancing Pakistan in the fashion world has led to the Government of Pakistan awarding him with the nations highest civilian honour, the Tamgha-E-Imtiaz.
The BUNYAAD project took birth in 2014 with the aim of revitalizing Pakistan’s craft communities, particularly emphasizing on reviving the needle and threadwork intrinsic to artistic communities in rural Southern Punjab. Working in close proximity with artisans, BUNYAAD aims to preserve, restore and uplift Pakistan’s craft heritage by merging it with sustainable design, quality control, and ethical value chains.
A great deal of research and development forms the basis of BUNYAAD. The master craftsperson is identified, prototypes that are relevant to current trends are created, product development workshops are conducted, a production system overseen by an expert designer is set up and there is great emphasis on ethical production practices. The chief objective is to generate sustainable income for the artisans and skill development with the creation of well-conceived, relevant product ranges. These products are reflective of Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage while simultaneously catering to modern-day market demands.
BUNYAAD is currently working within the Bahawalpur district base, earmarking small satellite clusters in far-flung rural areas, broadening their outreach, providing them with additional skill training and allowing women to work from home and generate an income.
This network of artisans in Bahawalpur has rapidly been expanding and it has prompted representatives of the Sharjah government to approach BUNYAAD for cross-cultural training, revival, and development for craftswomen in their rural regions. From 2014 to date, the label is a design consultant to NAMA, UAE. A campaign has been launched where Pakistani women train Emirati women in the production of professionally finished pieces for the fashion and lifestyle industry.
BUNYAAD specifically works with the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council and the Bidwa Social Development Programme.