Help These Art Students Better the World

They say that a little bit of good can make a difference – that it’s the little things that count. We’re always hearing people in positions of power and influence tell us that it’s the small things that add up to a big, world-bettering change. Well, a team of art students from the Royal College of Art in London are trying to infuse a little bit of good into the world, and you can help them do it.

29Photograph: Anne Sophie Geay.

In short; it’s a coat. It looks a bit like a puffa jacket, without the puff, that averages shin-length, and also features a hood and a plethora of pockets. But in this case looks are definitely deceiving, because it’s far more than simply a coat. It’s also a wearable shelter.

Designed with the European refugee crisis at the forefront of their minds, the coat can be worn by day and converted into a tent or sleeping bag by night. The waterproof fabric from which the piece is made, is called Tyvek. The material is light and soft, permeable to air, and is insulated with Mylar – which you might best recognise from having seen runners or other sports-people wrapping themselves in something that looks a bit like a sheet of foil.

30Photograph: Anne Sophie Geay.

The project is being led by professors Harriet Harriss and Graeme Brooker, and involves 10 master’s students – Gabriella Geagea, Anne Sophie Geay, Cassie Buckhart, Eve Hoffmann, Anna Duthie, Jess Wang, Hailey Darling, Zara Ashby, Ruben Van den Bossche, and Giulia Silovy – whose ages range from between 22 and 26. The brief for the project was suggested to the group by Wall, a London-based women’s clothing label, who also helped the group with the production of their prototypes.

Nick Harvey, a representative for the not-for-profit group Doctors of the World, when asked by the Guardian what he thought of the project, expressed his uncertainty about the practicality of the coat in regards specifically to the European crisis. He suggested, rather, that the item might better be suited to the UK homeless, due to the extreme temperatures which refugees strewn across Europe have to face.

31Photograph: Cassie Buckhart.

No one can deny that a project like this, as ingenious and altruistic as it is, is a good thing. Trying to help others is almost never a bad thing, and whilst the project may not be perfect – and honestly; how many are? – it is good. This is a design which could be easily and readily implemented the world over, from refugees to the homeless, as well as to others in need. It is good design, it is art which can better the world – but it needs help to get there.

If you can help, head on over to the Syrian Refugee Wearable Shelter Kickstarter page, and give a little to help the RCA group to reach their goal. It’s the little things that count, after all.

Photo Courtesy of Royal College of Art.
Photo Courtesy of Cassie Buckhart
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