Refugees’ Pavilion

Inspiration Through Creation

A temporary shelter and objects designed by displaced people told a story of survival through creativity.

The Refugees’ Pavilion told the stories of refugees through objects that they have designed, and one groundbreaking design that has been created to help them and their families. As designers around the world are asked to solve refugees’ problems, ‘Inspiration Through Creation’ acknowledged the difficulties in overcoming them, such as the fact that houses in refugee camps have to be temporary by design, even if the camps themselves are anything but – some have been around for decades.

In Kenya, for example, Kakuma refugee camp is now the seventh-largest town in the country, with a thriving economy that hosts a range of sectors, including designers and creatives. The pavilion was housed within the Better Shelter, winner of the Design Museum’s Design of the Year in 2016 – a structure that unpacks from two cardboard boxes and can be assembled with only a hammer, by four people in just a few hours. As visitors stepped inside the shelter, they saw examples of how different families across the world’s refugee camps transform it from a flat-packed house into a home of their own.

Visitors were then guided towards objects designed by women and girls in programmes run by RefuSHE, an NGO that empowers young refugee women in East Africa using a holistic approach that helps them to access their human rights, experience economic success and skill development, and become leaders in their own communities. Visitors were able to sit in an armchair and hear audio in which a woman helped by RefuSHE told an inspiring story about her journey from survival to creation.

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Photography: Ed Reeve

Photography: Ed Reeve


Administering Body:

Nairobi Design Week


Adrian Jankowiak (Afrika Design), Yara Said (Salwa Foundation)


Heidi McKinnon (Curators without Borders)

Supporting Bodies:

Better Shelter Foundation, RefuSHE, Sandstorm Kenya, Curators without Borders, IKEA Foundation, Rapid 9 Signs, Vidan Lawnes

2018 Exhibitors