Since 1981, Iranian women have been banned from attending men's sporting events in stadiums, a law justified by the ruling party as preserving notions of modesty and gender segregation in the country. Now, an exhibition of stadium seats made out of headscarves donated by Iranian women from around the world tells a story of Iranian women’s struggle against political and societal constraints.
First unveiled during Dutch Design Week in October 2023, Crafted Liberation draws attention to the continuous efforts of Iranian women to challenge unjust laws and inequality, particularly in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s tragic ‘morality police’ murder in 2022.
‘To speak for those often silenced, we launched a collective call for action, inviting Iranian women globally to donate their unwanted headscarves for this transformative project,’ explained Iranian-Australian designer Nila Rezaei. ‘Their contributions led to the creation of the exhibited stadium seats and collectively we transformed a traditional symbol of oppression into a beacon of empowerment.’ The grandstand embodies ‘the shift from enforced tradition to empowered liberation’, explained Rezaei.
Together with Australian manufacturing partners Talon Technology and Defy Design, Rezaei and Austrian product innovator Christopher Krainer (the two together making up RK Collective) used a combination of lamination and compression moulding to create a unique material comprising the headscarves and recycled polymers that resembled the material typically used to make stadium seats. This process drew inspiration from Talon Technology’s local plastic microfactory, which aims to make plastic recycling accessible in small communities. Its patented WasticFibre process, which combines waste plastic bags with textiles to create flexible composite sheets, was used to create the kaleidoscopic patchwork stadium seats.
Said Rezaei, ‘Our vision is to reimagine a future where headscarves are a matter of personal choice, not compulsion, and where every Iranian woman enjoys equal rights and freedoms.’