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€960 pledged of €10,000 goal
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By Sarah Rombouts
€960 pledged of €10,000 goal
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About this project


Our 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.

presenting ideas at one of our workshops
presenting ideas at one of our workshops
exhibition of Studio Refugee
exhibition of Studio Refugee

Our products

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!

Somalian wallets
Somalian wallets

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.’ 

weaving a traditional Syrian Kelim carpet
weaving a traditional Syrian Kelim carpet

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.

Intertwined cultures installation
Intertwined cultures installation
A bag made from the image of the tapestry
A bag made from the image of the tapestry

// 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.

birdhouse "made by an occupied mind"
birdhouse "made by an occupied mind"

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.

Afghan architecture
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!

portrait-drawings by Emad Dawwood
portrait-drawings by Emad Dawwood

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. 

Aref making calligraphy pens
Aref making calligraphy pens

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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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge €1 or more About $1.14

    // A THANK YOU //

    Just want to support Studio Refugee? That's very kind of you! We will put your name on the "wall of fame" page of our website.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge €5 or more About $6

    // HANDMADE BAMBOO KALLIGRAPHY PEN //

    You will receive one calligraphy pen. Made by Aref Mahmood, professional calligraphy-artist from Iraq.

    Order as many as you want! (Make sure you pledge the right amount. Per pen = 5 euro)

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge €15 or more About $17

    // SET OF 3 HANDMADE BAMBOO KALLIGRAPHY PENS //

    You will receive a set of 3 calligraphy pens of different sizes. Made by Aref Mahmood, professional calligraphy-artist from Iraq.

    Order as many as you want! (Make sure you pledge the right amount. Per set = 15 euro)

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge €30 or more About $34

    // 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.

    Available in male and female sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
    Choose your favorite T-shirt design.
    100% biological cotton!

    // 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.

    Order as many as you want! (Make sure you pledge the right amount. Per t-shirt = 30 euro)

    We will send out a survey at the end of the campaign where you can select your favorite design. The survey will also ask for other necessary details (size, shipping address,..)

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge €35 or more About $40

    // 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.

    We need more ‘nests’, more ‘housing’ for refugees and more ‘home’.
    This birdhouse is a symbolic nest, based on Afghan architecture

    Order as many as you want! (Make sure you pledge the right amount. Per birdhouse = 35 euro)

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge €45 or more About $51

    // LEATHER SOMALIAN WALLET // by Sarah Rombouts and Liane Castermans

    This minimalistic wallet makes sure you don't carry around a bunch a paper and cards you don't really need.

    The symbols tell the story of a Somalian Refugee family now living in Belgium.
    They are available in a range of colors.

    We will send out a survey at the end of the campaign where you can select your favorite color. The survey will also ask for other necessary details (size, shipping address,..)

    Order as many as you want! (Make sure you pledge the right amount. Per wallet = 45 euro)

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge €100 or more About $114

    // A PORTRET BY EMAD DAWWOOD //

    Send us your picture and Emad will make you a unique A3-sized pencil drawing!
    Emad is a refugee from Palestina and teacher of portret-drawing at Studio Refugee.

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    Pledge €150 or more About $171

    // INTERTWINED CULTURES BAG //

    In a tapestry an Arabic image is woven together with Western image. The images of two different cultures become one.

    The image of this tapestry is used to make a bag. This way the story and it's ideology get spread into our daily lives.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge €500 or more About $569

    // A WORKSHOP AT YOUR PLACE (BELGIUM ONLY) //

    Interested in meeting our refugees and learning their skills? Want to learn how to draw a portret, do macramé, write in Arabic Calligraphy or make underpants?
    We will travel to your place for a workshop for you and 7 others!
    Watch out, travel expenses are not included!

    BELGIUM ONLY

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    Pledge €1,000 or more About $1,139

    // INTERTWINED CULTURES TAPESTRY // By Yoni Lefèvre, Sadeq Nedal, Franciska Slaager and Walid Ashtar

    Weaving is a technique that has been deeply rooted in Syrian culture for decades.

    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 tapestry is weaving these cultures together into something new. An Arabic image is woven together with Western image. The images of two different cultures become one.

    One tapestry is almost finished. The others will follow soon. Each piece is unique and handmade by several people (refugees and locals) in our Studio.

    Size: 1.00 x 2.00 meter.

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Funding period

- (30 days)