photo by verena bruening


CUCULA is a pilot project which empowers 5 refugees to build their future. They build Design Classics to integrate artifacts from their journey over the Mediterranean. The refugees express both their own history and their vision of a self-determined future. In order to open up a professional perspective and to engage in a proper education, the 5 young men need a residence and a work permit. The furniture sale will help pay five scholarships, which are an important step towards legal residence.
Ali, Maiga, Saidou, Moussa und Malik are from West Africa, from Niger and Mali. They left their home countries as war and drought fundamentally destroyed their chances for a future in their own countries. They have survived a murderous boat trip over the Mediterranean, via Lampedusa and Italy, ultimately immigrating into Germany. They would like to stay and make a life in Berlin. Cucula wants to help these refugees break with the notion of ‘victimhood’ and at the same time unfold their self- efficacy and open up a perspective for a self-determined life.
In the last a couple of months, Cucula has established its own workshop, a lively ‘production environment’ run together with designers and tutors. It is here, between the poles of African and European culture, that unique design furniture is taking shape, accompanied by education in the areas of woodwork, construction and planning, academic classes, including language training and legal advice.

The furniture pieces are not only design classics, they also represent the stories of their makers. The 19 DIY furniture design plans from Enzo Mari’s book ‘Autoprogettazione’ in 1974 mark an important milestone in the history of product design. Positioned in contrast to the formalism of the time, Enzo Mari suggests the democratization of design, provoking a stronger identification with our own furniture and fostering a learning and reflection process. 40 years later Enzo Mari grants the team of Cucula the rights to sell furniture based on his plans.
Disaster scenarios shouldn’t put us in a state of helplessness – proactivity is required. Design and creative industries offer a vivid transference space for a kind of creativity which is not limited to political bounds.



Cucula, the team !


left photo by Sally Lazic - right photo by Fred Moseley

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photo by verena bruening