CUCULA opens doors for refugees in Berlin

German organisation CUCULA is using design, education and community to create second chances for foreign immigrants.

The controversy around the refugee influx in Europe continues to grow while the EU struggles to find solutions that benefit all involved. In the meantime, non-profit organisation CUCULA has taken matters into its own hands by offering refugees in Berlin an opportunity to make a fresh start.

An association, workshop and educational programme, CUCULA helps refugees create a promising future while they become familiar with a completely foreign environment. Central to its cause is empowering immigrants to take charge of their lives by propagating a culture that welcomes outsiders.

CUCULA’s Refugees Company for Crafts and Design programme is geared toward helping refugees on a professional level. It runs as a workshop in which refugees are taught technical design and carpentry skills with a focus on furniture design. The programme has created a collaborative environment in which trainees, teachers, and designers work together to create new products.

The pilot programme in the workshop is Enzo Mari’s ‘DIY’ furniture programme. The Italian furniture designer granted the redesign and sale of his Autoprogettazione furniture collection, which was originally designed to be built using only a hammer, nails and basic materials. The materials used in the design were taken from refugee camp huts and wooden boats.

The proceeds made from the sale of the furniture is used to cover the cost of education and cost of living, and to give refugees  a sense of autonomy in their adopted country.

In addition to the workshop, CUCULA also offers an educational programme designed to provide German language classes, legal advice and additional support with daily life in a new place.