Theory — 21 May 2017

museum card € 3 / students € 10.50 / regular € 18
21 May 2017, 1 pm until 2.30 pm
Main language
* Price includes admission to the exhibition Tickets

In conjunction with the opening of the exhibition Solution or Utopia? Design for Refugees, the Stedelijk Museum organizes a panel discussion on various subjects concerning the exhibition in cooperation with What Design Can Do. The exhibition addresses practical questions about the usefulness and functionality of designs for refugees, as well as related ethical and ideological issues. Is it appropriate to approach refugees as a separate group? Which practical issues do people face during their flight and their integration into a new country? Is it right to provide ready-made solutions for refugees, or should people acquire the tools to create solutions for shelter and other living facilities themselves?

The invited guest speakers are designers and (art) professionals who have been dealing with issues regarding refugees in recent years: visual artist Yara Said, architect Theo Deutinger, social entrepreneur Fleur Bakker (Refugee Company), Märta Terne (Better Shelter) and Andre Guimond & Evan Erlebacher (PRESENT Architecture). Curator of industrial design Ingeborg de Roode (Stedelijk Museum) will give an introduction and Andrea Vonkeman (UNHCR) will give a brief talk. David Kester will act as moderator.


Ingeborg de Roode has been the curator of industrial design at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam since 2001. Currently, she is the curator of the exhibition Solution or Utopia? with co-curator Jeanette Bisschops. De Roode has organized many exhibition projects for the Stedelijk Museum, including the recent presentations Living in the Amsterdam School (2016) and the survey exhibition Marcel Wanders Pinned Up: 25 Years of Design (2014). For the reopening of the museum in 2012, she co-curated the well-received design collection presentation with two colleagues. De Roode has published about design in catalogues and magazines in the Netherlands and abroad.

Yara Said is a Syrian artist who graduated from the University of Fine arts in Damascus in 2014. She travelled to the Netherlands in September 2015 and has since been actively involved with refugee circumstances in the EU. She is the designer of the Refugee National Flag. The colors of this flag are black and orange, which she says is ‘a symbol of the solidarity with all these brave souls that had to cross the sea to look for safety in a new country.’

Andrea Vonkeman started her career with UNHCR in 1995. She worked in different regions in the world (Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South Eastern Europe and in different types of operations ranging from complex emergencies to regular care and maintenance programmes in refugee hosting countries. Before taking up her new assignment as UNHCR’s Head of Office in the Netherlands she worked in UNHCR’s Europe Bureau in Brussels, where she was responsible for liaising with EU institutions on asylum issues, notably the reception of asylum seekers. Andrea has a Master’s Degree in International law from the University of Amsterdam.

Theo Deutinger (founder of TD) is an architect, writer and designer of socio-cultural maps. His work has been published in various magazines, including Wired, Domus, and Mark Magazine. Recent projects include the book Help Me, I Am Blind, made with the artist Heidi Specker; a collaborative exhibition design with the Bauhaus Dessau in Berlin; and a research-design contribution to the Shenzhen Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism & Architecture in collaboration with Droog. Theo Deutinger keeps lecture and teaching engagements with various institutions, including Harvard GSD, Strelka Institute Moscow and the Bauhaus in Dessau.

Fleur Bakker is the driving force behind the Refugee Company and creative director of Mister Lion (an Amsterdam-based lab for social innovation). She is a social entrepreneur, a pioneer and a co-creator, driven by a clear vision on social justice. For more than 15 years Bakker has been working on programs and concepts aimed at improving the perspectives of refugees in the Netherlands and abroad.

Märta Therne heads the Communication department of the Swedish social enterprise Better Shelter. Better Shelter is a humanitarian innovation initiative that develops temporary housing for persons displaced by conflicts and natural disasters, in collaboration with UNHCR and the IKEA Foundation. Before joining Better Shelter, Therne gained experience at companies and communication agencies in Sweden, the UK and India. She holds a BA from Kingston University, London and previously studied Art History and Photography.

Andre Guimond and Evan Erlebacher are the founding partners directors of PRESENT Architecture, an architecture office based in New York City that specializes in architecture and urbanism. PRESENT Architecture was founded in 2012. Their practice is guided by experimentation and motivated by a simple desire to improve the places where we live, work and play. Guimond holds a BA of Architecture from Cornell University and a MA of Architecture from the University of Tokyo, where he completed two years of research sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Education and Science. In Tokyo he joined Toyo Ito. Erlebacher holds a degree in History from Cornell University and an MA of Architecture from Columbia University. Prior to starting PRESENT, Evan worked for Zaha Hadid Architects in London.

David Kester is a design strategy consultant, co-founder of the Design Thinkers Academy, and former head of the UK’s Design Council. During his tenure at the Design Council he tackled issues as diverse as preventative healthcare and community cohesion. He promoted design-led approaches that turn social challenges into economic opportunity. Since 2014 Kester is a moderator for the What Design Can Do conference.