During winter semester, students of Design for the Living World HFBK Hamburg and Refugee Academy Berlin initiated RAOAL the Refugee Academy Open Art Lab in Hamburg, with the aim to get involved with individuals who have settled in Hamburg during the refugee influx. Our main partners turned out to be participants in the ACO (Artistic and Cultural Orientation) program at the HFBK. During half a year of sharing experiences and knowledge, a few highlights of events and places we interacted with are: Nacht des Wiessens at HFBK, Migrantpolitan at Kampnagel in Hamburg, Barcamp in Hannover, as well as several workshops at Design for the Living World class at HFBK, such as a World Café brainstorming, a wood workshop, and several cooking sessions.

At the end of the semester, we have evaluated our collaboration according to ‘10 things you need to consider if you are an artist – not of the refugee and asylum seeker community – looking to work with our community‘. We have learned that building trust takes a long time, but it is a necessary foundation and a stepping stone to build a successful collaboration and a network that follows. We are happy that step by step, the bridge between new arrivals and us, the students – many of us are urban migrants – is being built.

Planning for the future: This springtime, Refugee Academy will start in Hamburg, and we will continue to be involved in the Open Cooking Lab. The Open Cooking Lab’s practice is focused on sharing home recipes among individuals from different cultural backgrounds, thus crossing the borders between refugees, immigrants, migrants and friends.

Photo above: Wood carving workshop with Leonie Schulz, December 6 2017

Title: Hamburg – RAOAL Refugee Academy Open Art Lab
Dates: November 25 2017 – February 7 2018.
Location: HFBK, Hamburg.
Students: Angie Chen (Grundklasse HFBK Hamburg), Xin Cheng, Laura Levin (Product design HFBK Hamburg and HAW communication design), Anne Meerpohl (Painting department HFBK Hamburg), Juli Paetzold (Konzeptdesign HFBK Hamburg), Leonie Schulz, Kastania Waldmüller and Yan Yan.
The Class of the Design for the Living World in collaboration with: Refugee Academy Berlin and participants of the ACO program HFBK Hamburg.
Supported by: Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK Hamburg).


Tee-Kay (Thorsten Kreissig), founder of the Refugee Academy, leads a conversation during World Café.


RAOAL Refugee Academy in HamburgSteps of the project by Angie Yitsu Chen (pdf)


Workshops with ACO participants and students of the Design for the Living World class at HFBK

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