Empowering refugees through design and craftsmanship
Empowering refugees through design and craftsmanship Read more
About this project
Studio Refugee joins design and social innovation in objects made with and by refugees.
Our goal is to create job-opportunity for refugees without the requirement of knowing the dutch language. Learning a language takes time and is essential in the search for a job. In our Studio, language is not a barrier. We focus on the practical skills of refugees and design products based on these skills. This limits the requirement language and provides the refugees of a "costum-made" job.
In the past 3 months Studio Refugee organized a series workshops in which 8 designers and 8 refugees were guided to design products together. We designed the products focussing on skills, culture and stories. We now have 4 products to develop further. Amongst them: a tapestry, a birdhouse, a wallet and t-shirts.
A somalian wallet. by Sarah Rombouts and Liane Castermans
This wallet is tell the story of a Somalian refugee-family living in Belgium. The design and symbols are based on Somalian culture. Being minimalistic it, makes sure you don't carry around a bunch a paper and cards you don't really need!
Intertwined cultures - Weaving new cultures By Yoni Lefèvre, Sadeq Nedal, Franciska Slaager and Walid Ashtar
Weaving is a technique that has been deeply rooted in Syrian culture for decades. For Sadeq, our participating Syrian refugee, the weaving is still a vivid memory from his youth. ‘I remember the specific smell, hanging around the weaving equipment. My grandmother was weaving while I was playing around in the same room.’
The Syrian Kelim carpet is known for it’s rich history in color, pattern and technique. For decades it is to be found in Syrian interior design. Beside its decorative quality, it will give warmth and comfort during cold months. The war has changed the Syrian country radically; therefore Sadeq and his family fled their homes. After a long journey Sadeq arrived in Belgium. A country where they all hope for a better future and where he can build up something with his family, that currently is still living in Libanon. Just like Sadeq, there are thousands of refugees that want to be part of our society. The society where we live in is in transition and we can not ignore it any longer. The focus in this project is on weaving these cultures together into something new. In an installation an Arabic image is woven together with Western image. The images of two different cultures become one.
// BIRDHOUSE - MADE IN AN OCCUPIED MIND // By Derya Akgure, Fazal, Karen Wyckmans, Moshtaq
‘Made in an occupied mind’ is a breading nest inspired by the story of Moshtaq and Fazal, two refugees from Afghanistan that left their homes to find a new home here in Belgium.
They can live freely and in a safe environment to begin a new chapter in life, but their soul is not yet ‘liberated’. Finding a new home is not a simple task. Finding a house is a major step in the process. We need more ‘nests’, more ‘housing’ for refugees and more ‘home’. This project is a symbolic nest, based on Afghan architecture.
// T-SHIRTS // by Teresa Palmieri, Aref Mahmood, Ali Alhusseni and Mahoud
These t-shirts are designed by refugees in cooperation with designer Teresa Palmieri. Mahoud, Aref and Ali were asked to draw their story. Teresa Palmieri transformed their drawings into a matching series of t-shirts.
// STARING AT THE WATER - SHIRT //
Mahoud, a refugee from Iraq. He spent most of his adolescent life on sea, managing coordinates on a huge freighter. Mahoud sketched his view on the Albert canal where he would sit for hours, staring at the water.
// WHERE WILL I GO - SHIRT //
The big question of every refugee is: Where will I go? I can’t stay here, where do I go now? Aref is an artist specialized in Arabic calligraphy. He drew a shape of a bird in Arabic calligraphy with the words “Where will I go?”
// TREE - SHIRT //
The tree symbolized Iraq. The tree is dead. The birds can no longer nest and where forced to go abroad, on a quest for a better life.
While working on this project, we meet a lot of talented refugees. To stimulate these talents, we organize classes in which they can teach their skills to locals and other refugees. One of them is Emad Dawwood, an engineer and portrait-drawer from Palestine. Besides classes, Emad also makes drawings on demand!
Another talent at Studio Refugee is Aref, a calligraphic artist from Iraq. Aref makes his own calligraphic pens using bamboo, a cutting tool and a hammer.
Risks and challenges
Creating job-opportunity is not an easy task. Fortunately there are a lot of designers out there, willing to use their skills to help out.
But we need more! We need to find the right people to work with Studio Refugee to develop the products. For example, craftsmen, marketeers, story-tellers and creative thinkers.
Building a network of distributors and shops interested in selling our products.
To keep Studio Refugee running we need a constant demand of our products. Finding the right partners in distribution is the key to succes. Once we developed our products, we are ready to offer them to potential partners.
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- (30 days)