Sunday, 17 January 2021

UN in your language

KNOTT4UN - #UNDay in Brussels

editorial photo

Jean-Paul Knott is searching for the perfect Mantra. 
"Everyone is waiting for the UN to gives us one powerful slogan that we can all repeat like a mantra." Says the Belgian designer. We are not there yet, but in our search for the one perfect slogan, we have so far provided him seven. In spite of our changing slogans, the celebrated Belgian fashion designer's passion for the UN has not waned. 

UNRIC's relationship with Jean-Paul Knott began seven years ago, in 2007, when we asked him to give the Centre an idea for a bracelet with the slogan F.U.N for Friend of the UN that we could give to people. The hick was, we ventured to explain, that we have no budget. Jean-Paul Knott said that in that case we should make our own bracelets. He suggested we buy rolls of blue ribbon that we stamped with the words We the Peoples in different European languages and wrapped around a post card.

The next year, in 2008, we all joined to enthusiastically celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a European campaign. Jean-Paul spent many an hour between international fashion shows, writing our slogan Know Your Rights, on (very cheap) T-shirts that with a couple of expert cuts here and there turned into 'it' fashion objects.

In 2009 we all wanted to believe that we really could really Seal the Deal on climate change in the COP15 conference in Copenhagen. And once again, in spite of our changing slogans, Jean-Paul Knott was unwavering in his passion for UN causes. This time our do- it-yourself goody took the shape of a cotton pin with Seal the Deal tattooed on it. We still remember taking turns in our offices ironing hundreds of tattoos on the pins. They looked great, even the Secretary-General wore one. And even though we did not Seal that deal, the idea remains very original and cheap.

In 2010 we thought we had hit the jackpot. To mark the 10th anniversary of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), for the first time the whole UN family agreed on one dream of a slogan for Jean-Paul Knott- We Can End Poverty. By this time not only every body at UNRIC, but so was everywhere at the designer's atelier was busy painting the mantra on t-shirts, bags, hats... etc. Jean-Paul put the slogan on his own collection printed each of the eight Millennium Development Goals. And the best thing about it was that it was easily translatable on all the Centre's languages.

In 2011, it took a bit of persuasion to make him see that the Rio+20 conference needed a more comprehensive, inclusive slogan like The Future We want, but he soldiered on along with us.

Last year our-nearly Knott-friend was seduced by the working title of one of the Centre's potential campaigns on Sanitation. I Give a ... We told him that it was a definite no go, because well... it just doesn't translate into other languages.

This year, still searching for the perfect mantra, we decided with Jean-Paul Knott's blessing, to celebrate UN day wearing blue scarves with nothing written on them that we can each personalize with any mantra we like. So last week UNRIC again became a workshop. With our interns tearing a hundred UN blue scarves from rolls of blue cotton. Much easier done then said. Jean-Paul taught us that you rip a cloth and not cut it. On his own scarf though, Jean-Paul Knott started writing over and over again We the Peoples with his permanent marker.
Merci M. Knott.

Happy 68th UN.

→ Editorial, Afsané Bassir-Pour


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