16:20 GMT28 February 2020
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    An innovation and invention from a museum, showcasing a simple design, could help to improve the experience of 65,000 displaced people worldwide, forced to flee their country in search of safety.

    "Solution or Utopia? Design for Refugees" is an exhibition being shown at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam — it consists of a tent and a urinal.

    The emphasis is on necessity and survival.

    The sheet is biodegradable, the tent can also be worn as a raincoat, and the urinal uses biofuel cells which convert urine into energy and light up the toilet block.

    "Design and architecture… is not only about nice chairs, It is hoped that the exhibition will show visitors the potential of using design for social purposes and will inspire other designers to consider this type of project," Ingeborg de Roode, curator of industrial design at the museum, said in a recent interview.

    Many of the exhibits on show were entrants in the 2016 Refugee Challenge, a competition organized in partnership with UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) and the IKEA Foundation.

    The challenge, which attracted 631 submissions from 70 different countries, was launched at the annual What Design Can Do conference in Amsterdam, and set designers the task of improving the reception and integration of refugees.

    Andrea Venkeman, head of UNHCR Netherlands, believes that in times of crisis innovation is key and these designs can really help people and potentially save lives.

    Syrian architects Mary Farwy and Michael Barchini were members of the team of curators, and many of the designers featured are refugees themselves.

    Syrian artist Yara, who helped with the exhibition, designed a black and orange flag which was paraded by the refugee team at the 2016 Olympics. The flag was inspired by the life jackets worn by refugees and migrants that had also been left abandoned on Greek beaches.

    "One year and a half ago, I was on the road, fighting for my life. And five years ago [in Syria], I fought for my life every single day. The flag was a response to the trauma I relived when faced with media images of the migrant crisis and the need for a new language to talk about it," Yara said.

    "People were sharing so many pictures of dead children and women on the road… It breaks my heart every time I see these pictures… and for me it's just traumatizing every time. I was very upset about this and I thought we needed a visual sign.

    "If you want to talk about refugees you don't have to use a picture of a dead child, you can use a symbol," Yara added.

    For Yara and other refugees, these designs could make a huge difference to surviving and could potentially save thousands of lives.

    One of the boldest pieces in the exhibition is titled "Europe in Africa," a city state created on an artificial island between Italy and Tunisia. Plans include a university, a business park, an agricultural zone, and even a football stadium.


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    survival, refugee crisis, migrant crisis, exhibition, humanitarian crisis, refugees, art, Stedelijk Museum, Europe, Amsterdam, Holland, Netherlands
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