NU_VOLANTE is the attempt to found the (probably) first local, open and collaborative street brand in Italy.
In Italy and other southern European countries exists for already years the phenomena of immigrated street vendors (often from Senegal) that try to make a living by selling mainly cheap Chinese products, like sunglasses, lighters, umbrellas or bracelets on the streets.
The brand Nu_Volante (“the new flying ones”) tries to connect immigrated street vendors to local (eco–social) manufacturer (social cooperatives) and designers to create small, simple and beautiful products and sell them in the local streets to citizen and tourists through a network of street vendors.
Within our pilot project that is about to be launched in the city of Bolzano, North Italy, a local manufacturer has a central role in the collaboration: It is a secondhand/upcycling furniture and textile work-shop and a small co-working space for engaged designers and artisans. On one side they will produce a part of the products that are sold on commission by a network of street vendors. On the other side they provide a physical space where designers, street vendors and their own production team can meet to discuss and exchange ideas.
The project’s aim is to raise the social and economical situation of the immigrated vendors and give more visibility to small local manufacturer that often have only a very limited budget for advertisement and marketing. In addition the project has a great potential to raise a new kind of culture connected to street commerce. (Italy ones had a flourishing culture of artisan and street markets that get more and more “invaded” by poorly produced products.)
Another goal is to inform (local) people about the legal situation of these street vendors that are often targeted by prejudices saying they would be part of a Mafia-like structure – which in most cases is simple not the case.
Instead most vendors possess a license for street vending and even pay social security contributions. They travel to the bigger Italian cities to buy their products from Chinese markets and try to resell them in touristic towns and villages.
In a longer perspective the project aims to create new social relations between the vendors and local citizen and could become a bridge for new developments (e.g. the possibility for education in the field of handy-crafts or a shift to participate in local markets instead of selling only on the streets).
The project resulted as a hands-on research project from a more theoretical study about the transformation of our western value system which I paraphrased as with the title “Open Value”.
More information on the website: www.nu-volante.org or on facebook: www.facebook.com/nu-volante