Cover a bottle with a beautiful triangular skin structure and place
a flower inside. Enjoy creating the shape you want by adjusting the size and shape of the skin. Designed in The Netherlands and made in
the Bombay slums.
This collaboration between designer Pepe Heykoop and Tiny Miracles Foundation aims to bring 150 families out of poverty by 2020. Started in 2011 the vases already support 80 families and this is growing.
What makes this special?
The vase comes inside an elegant envelope and can be rolled and adjusted like an origami paper to change shape and to fit different sizes of bottle.
Economic empowerment creating employment for a vulnerable community in a Bombay slum
Eradicating child labour by facilitating
the education of kids to give them better employment opportunities
Red Gradient Vase
Green Gradient Vase
Delft Blue Vase
The Designer - Pepe Heykoop
Pepe Heykoop set up his studio after finishing his studies at the Eindhoven Dutch Design Academy. He makes hand crafted products. These are limited editions and unique pieces in his studio in Amsterdam combining design and art. Wherever possible he looks to recycle or blend natural and finesse. In addition he also researches and discovers low cost techniques to support the project and workshop with the Pardeshi community in the Bombay slums.
The aim of the Bombay slum project initiated with The Tiny Miracles Foundation was to teach new skills and create a functioning design workshop in Bombay to make high quality products for the international market and to use the funds to finance improved healthcare and an education program for the children to bring them into high quality schools.
My heart and head in The Mumbai project
Pepe & Laurien
Pepe goes there at least 3 times per year, and teaches them skills varying from welding, stitching, quality control and work ethics. “It is a huge challenge to work with a group of people who are uneducated, they can't count for example, and it takes a lot of patience and determination. But the outcome is wonderful: they are now, after 2 years, able to produce high-end design and earn a good income. It was only my second time to India when I started with the project and I had a lot to learn about the culture, the level of education of the people and my task became to work in partnership and change all of our paradigms”.
The Tiny Miracles Foundation – Laurien Meuter
The Foundation set up in 2010 by Laurien Meuter, is half way towards its goal for 2020 to provide 150 families of about 700 people with a wage of ten euros a day – the UNICEF standard for a middle class wage – in return for their production skills. In addition to have them self support quality healthcare and their children’s education. And to organise fun and playful activities for the kids.
The four legs to transformation
Initially the foundation started to support education and healthcare. However we saw that sometimes the children were pulled out of the program to go to work so we quickly decided to add an employment element for the adults. Pepe who is my cousin was given the challenge to focus on the work creation element whilst I continued with the education, healthcare and play.
“We pay them a good salary, but not outrageous as this could lead to potential divisions in the community. So we invest the income in healthcare and children’s education for the whole community and in addition we put money in the workers bank accounts for every hour they work so they also experience the importance of saving money”.
The artisans – The Pardeshi’s in the Red Light district
Each vase is hand made by trained crafts women.
They belong to the Pardeshi community based in the heart of the red light district in Mumbai. The Pardeshis originally from Rajasthan migrated towards Maharashtra. Having been in Mumbai for several generations they live literally on the streets and having gone from an agricultural lifestyle to the city slums the women were reduced to weaving baskets.
The design inspiration – international quality, guaranteed work
Initially when Pepe started looking at designs there were several challenges. We needed to create a workshop in the slums, we wanted to create a high quality product that would be appealing in itself, we wanted to start by paying at least 8 euros per day which is 8 times the local wage and we wanted to train the adult women so the children could go to school.
Pepe’s original idea was lambskin lampshades and this was followed by the Matka Vase which is based on traditional Indian water carriers. However these were difficult for untrained persons to make and as the price point for the lampshade was Euro 550 in the shops, these were expensive for consumers and so the work for the women was piece
meal. After 2.5 years and many frustrations and challenges the paper vase was the breakthrough as this was a product that we could relatively easily train people to make and it was a big hit so guaranteed work.
Our ultimate aim for 2020 is to make the workshop and organisation self sufficient with as many activities as possible being carried out from Mumbai including the distribution to the retailers who are coming from everywhere including Asia! We initially started doing the quality control and retail distribution from Amsterdam and since we have Asian retailers we ship directly from Mumbai so begin to do these activities locally.
The vase is made of coated paper.
The process – a good vibe
Today the process is paper and sewing. However when I started in 2011 I tried a paper welding technique and other complex techniques which were complete disasters. The whole process made me a better designer and people inspirer. One day I woke up and thought about paper folding. We did a paper folding class with 30 women and I was shocked that it seemed so difficult. I felt that day to give up but I am glad that with the smiles we all decided to go on
and we agreed to make a game of it and then suddenly every one was an expert in paper folding. This gave me a sense of satisfaction, as it was important to work in a positive environment. What touches me, is that we can be transparent and open about our production process and create a good vibe, not like the opaque workshops in Bangladesh or China where you are not allowed to see how stuff is made.
We started off with a work space in a really dark dingy spot just off the pavement with rats running round and cockroaches and the rain was coming in, but we needed to start with what we had. Then in 2012, we changed into a bigger room and now we have a workshop, a proper place that's clean and light and of course weather proof.
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