The Office of Displaced Designers (ODD) is an independent, charitable creative organisation that provides educational and professional development opportunities in design. Bringing together refugees and locals in our central office space in Mytilene on Lesvos (Greece) we support multi-disciplinary projects related to and/ or impacting: the built environment, protection issues or cultural understanding.
Our workshops, classes and events are free to attend and open to anyone (aged 15+) with a background in design or an interest in learning new design related skills.
Most of those we work with are challenged by uncertain futures. Our project based programming is designed to tackle this issue by focusing on the creation of portfolio material that can be accessed freely online. We also support CV development and promote international networking.
The Office of Displaced Designers is a Restricted Fund under the auspices of Prism the Gift Fund, Registered Charity number 1099682.
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 hope for the future and 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 March of 2016, co-founders Shareen Elnaschie and Kimberly Pelkofsky were conducting a participatory needs assessment for an NGO based in Kara Tepe Accommodation Site. During this time they met many people with design and creative backgrounds who expressed the desire to use their skills to do more. Imagining the impacts of the loss of a portfolio of work and recognised qualifications coupled with the sense of time being wasted, the first idea for ODD was sparked.
ODD has been operational since August 2016