18 Nov CUCULA – doing it together
‘Refugee crisis’ and ‘carpentry’ aren’t two subjects you’d obviously link together, but CUCULA is a new organisation that couldn’t more purely demonstrate the multi-layered value of ‘making’.
CUCULA is the Hausa term for ‘doing something together’ and it’s now the name for a group working together in Berlin, Germany to put theoretical debates about the refugee crisis into productive actions. For the steki, it’s also a fascinating demonstration of the positive impact ‘doing’ and ‘making’ can have on an individual and consequently a group.
Currently, CUCULA is working as a pilot project where refugees design, manufacture and sell premium design objects and in that process develop basic technical qualifications with a focus on furniture production.
And what a brilliant pilot project it is. The wonderful Enzo Mari, who developed the Autoprogrettazione manual in 1974, which was essentially a design guide for how to assemble a collection of furniture from the most basic materials and only using a hammer and nails, has generously given CUCULA the rights to use his designs and to develop the furniture.
The founding group is made up of trainees Ali Maiga Nouhou, Maiga Chamseddine, Malik Agachi, Moussa Usuman, Saidou Moussa who’ve managed to find their way to Germany via Italy, those treacherous boats we’ve become so familiar with and Libya – originally coming from Niger and Mali. The core founding team are designer Corinna Sy and Sebastian Däschle along with a team of trainers.
In a situation where language and cultural barriers are high, Enzo Mari’s pictorial and practical plans provide newcomers with few resources and a limited support system, with the opportunity to learn skills, integrate and to offer something that is valued and recognised in return. And because their journey to these shores will forever mark their experiences and their stories, the trainees have chosen to use debris from the boats on which so many have gambled their lives. A statement is made which goes beyond the furniture’s sheer practical value. As CUCULA states “[t]hey transform a personal and univeral catastrophe into a constructive future.“
The project holds so much potential that they are already taking orders on their limited edition pieces and will be showing four of their designs at the Cologne Fine Art fair, which runs from 18 November to 22 November 2015. In turn, a crowdfunding campaign has been launched by the team as they start planning to offer scholarships in the near future. Check out their promotional video here.
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