The Office of Displaced Designers (ODD) is an architecture and design organisation facilitating skills sharing. We support multi-disciplinary projects related to and/ or impacting the built environment, protection issues or cultural understanding.

Our office is located in Mytilene centre on Lesvos (Greece) where we host workshops, classes and events for both displaced persons and locals.

The Office of Displaced Designers is a Restricted Fund under the auspices of Prism the Gift Fund, Registered Charity number 1099682.

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What we do

Community Engagement:
We provide expertise in participatory practices for organisations looking to engage with local and displaced populations:

  • Ideas/ visioning sessions
  • Interest and skills surveys
  • Mapping workshops
  • Practical training

Design Solutions:
We provide consultancy and professional services in:

  • Space studies and planning
  • Architectural design development
  • Project troubleshooting

Workshop Facilitation:
We facilitate engaging learning experiences.

We collaborate with you to develop workshops that bring your skills and knowledge to others.

Please visit the volunteer page for more information on how to get involved and to download the relevant forms.

We host special workshops, classes and events. All our activities are listed on the calendar with details on how to apply.

Our office is an inclusive space open to everyone.


Why is this project important?

As a result of displacement, people who have left their homes, friends, jobs (and portfolios) behind find themselves in a culture of dependency. Humanitarian aid services are primarily delivered to target groups based on vulnerability as determined by demographics, not on intellectual interest and capacity. Autonomy and choice are severely limited while people wait for undetermined periods of time. Host communities also feel their needs are overlooked by this system.

At ODD we understand that resilience is a finite resource. We focus on people's interests and skills and facilitate professional development opportunities for those whose vulnerabilities are not typically prioritised. Our professional workplace and programs help restore a sense of normality which is essential to mental wellbeing.

Who do we work with?

We work with people from both the displaced and host community who have a background in design or a keen interest to learn new skills in a design related field. Design fields include: architecture and planning, landscape architecture, industrial and furniture design, graphic design and media. 

How did this initiative begin?

In 2015, compelled to do something to contribute to the solidarity movement in Europe, one of our co-founders, Shareen Elnaschie, decided to travel to Lesvos. For two weeks over Christmas she volunteered with Humanitarian Support Agency (HSA), a wonderful NGO operating at Kara Tepe Accommodation Site. And she has not really left since.

In March 2016, she was joined by our second co-founder Kimberly Pelkofsky to run a participatory education needs assessment for HSA. The pair met many people with creative backgrounds: a landscape architect, an engineer, a fine artist, a jewelry maker. Imagining the loss of a professional creative output, the loss of a portfolio of work and recognised qualifications, and the sense of time being wasted, the first idea for ODD was sparked. ODD has been operational since August 2016.