Sarah Rombouts graduated as a product designer, from the LUCA School of Arts C-Mine, in 2016. Her masters project formed the basis for Studio Refuge, where she designs products, together with refugees.
Studio Refugee aims, on the one hand, to give the people of Belgium a different image of immigrants, and on the other hand, to give motivated refugees the chance to do something useful, and come into contact with Belgian people. They do that by way of workshops, in which groups of designers and refugees collaborate on producing designs which have at their core the refugees’ experiences. In the long term, Sarah Rombouts would like to get the project’s methodology to a less conceptual level, in order to reach more refugees with her co-creative process.
“From a design perspective, it’s innovative and interesting to combine various kinds of design. But it’s the process itself, in particular, which causes the most important impact. One of the greatest problems refugees have to face is boredom. Add to that the fact that they miss their families, and their native countries, and that there is much in their lives that is unsure. During the workshops, the participants regain a feeling of community. They feel useful again, because they’re involved in something.”
“There’s a loom, for example, with woven Delft Blue image and an image of a Persian carpet. That was made by Yoni Lefèvre and Franciska Slaager, from the Netherlands, together with a Syrian refugee, who had a great many memories of his grandmother weaving, something he saw as a central element of his culture. So here, two cultures are visibly woven together, and from the pattern which results from that, we can make bags in our sewing studio.”