Over the years, Neema Crafts has offered opportunities to designers and artisans from all of the world to see their ideas through from initial development to retail and to work alongside our deaf and physically disabled craftsmen and women throughout.
Designing at Neema Crafts is a truly unique and inspiring opportunity and one that makes a tangible difference to everyone involved. If you would like to find out more about design opportunities in the heart of East Africa, please contact us on: [email protected]. We are currently looking for the following expertise and skills:
If you are thinking of applying as a volunteer, it is important to note:
In the mean time, read the testimonial of Freia Groves, a fashion designer from the UK about her experiences at Neema Crafts:
What did designing for Neema Crafts mean to you?
For me, designing for Neema brought all the elements that I love about design and being an artist together. Working at Neema allowed me to fully explore the designing process at the same time as supporting and sharing my experiences with the talented artisans. There were many challenges in terms of culture, language, abilities and communication but using design as a platform we were able to overcome them. I think of all of the things that Neema taught me, something I will always take with me in my work is the ability to share creative knowledge, even when there are so many obstacles in the way.
What was different about working at Neema Crafts to other design jobs - what aspects did you enjoy the most?
Designing at Neema allowed me to fully immerse myself into a creative community I had no idea about! I had to use my skills in a very new way, be open to learning alternative ways of doing things and had to push my creativity to its limit - learning as much from the artisans as they learnt from me. I really agree with the quote from the artist Michel Paysant 'If there is no dialogue between artists/designers and artisans the object produced is simply a product. There is no soul.' For me Neema allowed me to put soul into the products I designed.
How have your own design skills/understanding improved as a consequence of your time with NC? (if at all!)
My experience designing at Neema has opened me up to a whole new world of working with artisans. It has confirmed to me that although you can come into a community that you have very few places of common ground, and through creative practices you can build a dialogue without needing formal language or shared cultures. You can build a story without needing words to explain it.
Have you got a favourite story from your time at NC
I have so many! But I will pick one. During my first stay at Neema I had designed a clothing collection and organised a fashion show with the new designs, featuring the staff as models. Some young, some old, some men, some women, some disabled some deaf, some tailors, some carpenters. On the week before the show, I got sick and found it very hard to be part of organising the event. But everyone pulled together and in the end the show was better than I could have imagined. It was following this that I recognised that these people were not only colleagues and people I had shared new skills with, but also an extended family that I was now part of and still am.
Anything else that that you think might be interesting to fellow designers/artisans
I cannot recommend a more fulfilling experience than time designing at Neema.