Talking Hands

MIGRATIONS & TERRITORIES

Providing asylum seekers with skills and with the possibility to work, while engaging the local community and companies. A project set in Treviso, Italy

«Elderly ladies were fascinated by the display of embroidery and crochet skills. There were soon exchanges of opinions, discussions of techniques and a smooth, natural involvement of the community»

What is it?

 

Talking Hands is a permanent design and social innovation laboratory located in the former Piave barracks of Treviso and managed by a group of about 25 refugees and asylum seekers. 50 boys come every day to socialize with their countrymen. It was started in 2016 and it supports himself economically.

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What does it do?

 

It teaches skills and trades to migrants. It produces furniture, accessories and fashion items involving the local supply chain (for example, it uses the remains of samples from the prestigious Lanificio Paoletti, who works for the big fashion houses) and facilitates social inclusion. It encourages participants to use manual activity as a form of narration and personal expression, giving dignity to their stories.

How does it work?

 

Craftsmen with different levels of competence are involved in order to support the progressive achievement of skills. The designers involved are asked for an investment in terms of time to create a relationship of mutual exchange and to identify skills to enhance them. The designers involved: Anthony Knight, Annaclara Zambon, Studio Zanellato Bortotto.

Why is it in Design Collisions?

 

Through design work, Talking Hands creates relationship networks that foster the development of communities, and promotes synergies with local businesses and interaction with the territory.

Is it design?

 

The whole project is based on design and crafts. The support to pressing problems (housing, access to drugs, literacy, etc.) is also developed with a view to creative problem-solving: through connections with local realities and alternative narratives.

At Design Collisions, Talking Hands presents ad hoc designed and made furniture by: Annaclara Zambon, Ansumana Kinteh, Anthony Knight, Fabrizio Urettini, Francesco de Luca, Lamin Saidy, Lamin Touray, Lanificio Paoletti from 1795, Moussa Touré, Ousman Janko, Sanryo Cissey, Sheriffo Darboe, Studio Zanellato Bortotto.

How to create positive narratives

«There is an invisible separation line in Treviso: if migrants set foot in commercial areas and in the center they are subjected to continuous and repeated identity checks, even several times a day», says Fabrizio Urettini, designer and founder of Talking Hands. He tackled the issue through involving people.

«In addition to the complaints, we responded by starting home deliveries. Our boys walking through the city carrying colorful objects on their shoulders looked like curious catwalks that attention, some giggling but also many conversations: the relational bridges that we were so desperate to build».

«For a whole Summer, we also moved the embroidery lab to a public park. Every Thursday a large blue indigo cloth was laid out on the old disused concrete ping-pong tables and the boys worked for hours “en plein air”.

The first time we were looked upon with suspicion by the regulars (people walking their dogs, students and pensioners). Then curiosity took over. The approach was mediated by the type of craft work we brought to the park: elderly ladies were fascinated by the display of embroidery and crochet skills. There were soon exchanges of opinions, discussions of techniques and a smooth, natural involvement of the community».