ambiente excerpts – made51 featuring goods made by refugee artisans

Leatherwork of the Tuareg community.

Amongst the several things a refugee is forced to relinquish when they leave, is their capacity for self-reliance. However, what many of them do carry with them are their traditional skills and craftsmanship. Tapping into this reserve of talent, MADE 51 is slowly changing things for the displaced. An initiative by UNCHR, this project exists to support refugee artisans in preserving their traditional knowledge and skills and to help them gain access to the market with their products. Operating in several countries across Africa and South Asia, MADE 51 brings these indigenous handicrafts to an international clientele.

We came across this incredible brand on our visit to Ambiente, one of the world’s leading international trade shows which showcased MADE 51’s goods in Frankfurt earlier this month. Ambiente this year, placed emphasis on handcrafted and ethical design through its curation and promotion of brands with similar ethos and consciousness. The show championed fair trade and sustainability with, MADE 51, aiding them to achieve recognition on a global platform. These ethnic yet contemporary pieces were made by refugees from Syria, Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia bringing together their traditional skills to create unique culturally blended collections.

Basketry by the Burundian Refugees.

From beautiful papyrus baskets woven by Burundian refugee women in Tanzania to the leatherworking of the Tuareg in Burkina Faso, the products crafted exude a real essence of humanity and cultural preservation. A collection of sustainable sheep’s-wool rugs by Afghan artisan refugees features classic patterns reimagined from a contemporary perspective. Syrian artisans have created a range of throws that are proudly adorned with signature flowers made from cashmere yarn, and reflect fine crochet work and heritage patterns from Syria.

The Pop Lampshade Collection by Burmese Refugee Artisans.

In an attempt to merge modern design sensibilities with time-honored native techniques, MADE 51 brings on board designers to collaborate with the artisans. They incorporate long-term design trends while introducing patterns, motives, and techniques relevant to refugees’ culture. Technical support is made available, for ease of manufacturing.

From beautiful papyrus baskets woven by Burundian refugee women in Tanzania to the leatherworking of the Tuareg in Burkina Faso, the products crafted exude a real essence of humanity and cultural preservation. A collection of sustainable sheep’s-wool rugs by Afghan artisan refugees features classic patterns reimagined from a contemporary perspective. Syrian artisans have created a range of throws that are proudly adorned with signature flowers made from cashmere yarn, and reflect fine crochet work and heritage patterns from Syria.

Cashmere throws by Syrian Artisans.

In an attempt to merge modern design sensibilities with time-honoured native techniques, MADE 51 brings on board designers to collaborate with the artisans. They incorporate long-term design trends while introducing patterns, motives, and techniques relevant to refugees’ culture. Technical support is made available, for ease of manufacturing.

“Refugees have skills and talents that only need a chance to grow and flourish. Within each piece lies a story of history and culture and the chance for a person who has fled war and persecution to offer something of beauty and style to the world,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

In an industry growing increasingly conscious of ethical and sustainable practices, MADE 51 not only benefits the displaced but adds considerable diversity to the market and preserves indigenous techniques that might otherwise be lost forever.

 

Images via Made 51

Written By
Nuriyah Johar is a Mumbai-based content writer. Armed with a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature and a Diploma in Interior Design, she wishes to explore the path of writing about art and design. Nuriyah loves pop culture and spends most of her time watching Shark Tank reruns.