Design – Milanese non-profit organisation Assab One presents Design for Communities, exhibition showcasing beds, tables, and benches Italian designer Giacomo Moor designed for the refectory and dormitory of the Mathare primary school design for a school in one of the largest slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Design for Communities is an initiative by LiveinSlums, an NGO working in highly critical urban areas and carrying out valuable urban regeneration projects for years.
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To create an immersive experience, the exhibition’s curators, Davide Fabio Colaci and Federica Sala have designed an installation where Moor’s pieces merge with the pictures by Francesco Giusti, Filippo Romano, Mattia Zoppellaro, and Alessandro Treves from Perimetro.
LiveinSlums invited Giacomo Moor to Mathare to make furniture prototypes for the dining hall and dormitories of Why Not Academy, a local school accommodating about 300 children. The making of benches, tables, and bunkbeds took place with local people and the Mathare children, allowing them to learn new techniques, get paid for their work, and, at the same time, create furniture with high and functional quality for a more conscious design.
“We made the prototypes on site to make the locals and the kids totally autonomous for future productions. We also avoided using complex machinery: a chisel, set square, and pencil are the only essential tools for making the pieces.” Explained Giacomo Moor.
“The idea of the joint, usually and rightfully associated with complex cabinet-making techniques, has been reinterpreted, having, on the one hand, preserved its character of fineness, also thanks to the absence of visible nails or screws, and on the other hand, having become simple and immediate to create.”
Each of these furnishings is a symbol of Mathare’s active and flexible community, capable of supporting places for people to meet and exchange. A community visually narrated through the photos of Filippo Romano, Mattia Zoppellaro, and Alessandro Treves. The photographers also created the School of Curiosity project, a photography workshop to give voice to local authors and train new talents from the slum.
All photos: courtesy of Assab One. Video by Simon Onyango.