- Companion’s simple series of hats emerge from a thoughtful design practice, encouraging acts of care for the self, the environment & the other -
Companion celebrates diversity in an international context of ongoing politicised debate regarding refugee quotas & the economic impact of migrants.
Meaningful employment is a crucial component for integration & contribution. Likewise, creating is a catalyst for connection – a required antidote in the face of increasingly divisive propaganda. So, skills carried on migration dictate this collaborative practice.
Contemporary design outcomes are explored via collisions of traditions; resulting cohesive forms bringing attention to the beauty in heterogeneous societies. Much made is 100% unique – with marks of artisan’s hands & minds.
Slow Design principles are adhered to, considering environmental & social sustainability.
Marriage was this business' beginning. A friend in common provided an introduction, a chance to share mutual experiences around engagement with refugees. We had both used masters research projects to explore social enterprise models too (him in Development Studies, her Art & Design). So somewhat inevitably a social business working with refugees emerged from our relationship – Companion.
Although constantly open to new collaborative possibilities locally & internationally, we make the majority of our pieces alongside a small number of migrants here in Aotearoa who we have now known for years, & have become dear friends including:
Pary who is from Afghanistan originally & now lives in Tāmaki Makaurau with her daughter's young family. Her contributions of beaded & embroidered elements offer surprise due to language barriers and the resulting “losses” & “gains” in translation. Pary often refers to the peace she finds in working with her hands, “When I sew I forget my problems in Afghanistan”.
First meeting Thawil when teaching a migrant sewing group, she has since transitioned from student to running these classes herself, & alongside teaching, she works as our machinist. From Thailand, Thawil married a Syrian & lives here with their daughter.
We also periodically collaborate with an Afghan Sewing Group & one of the members' sons, Aliakbar, a high school student who plans to become a doctor. In the interim, he contributes to Companion in various capacities.