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De Voorkamer, a meeting place for newcomers and locals in Utrecht, faces an ongoing challenge to reach and engage more women from diverse backgrounds with the different programme activities.


Voortborduren (Dutch for to elaborate and 'embroidering on') was a social design project Shay Raviv initiated for De Voorkamer in order to address that need. Over the course of six months, a group of newcomers and local women worked together on a textile piece in a co-creative process. Resulting in a three meters long textile artwork, completely designed and made by and for the Voorkamer community.


The design process was guided by Floor Nijdeken, who developed the ‘social embroidery technique’, an embroidery table which we had the great pleasure of using for the project. The images for the artwork were assembled with the participating women and translated into a beautiful pattern by Nijdeken. These images are all iconic symbols from mainly two cultures, Syria and Eritrea. Since all these women have come to live in Utrecht, the central image is the Dom tower of Utrecht.

The final outcome became an integral part of the interior in De Voorkamer. In this way the project resulted in a tangible and intangible contribution to the community.

Around forty people took an active part in the project, mainly women, but also men embroidered. Many many people participated: some people embroidered hundreds of stitches, others a few, some people worked hours and others just a few minutes and that is what made the project so special. The projectgroup was very diverse, in terms of age and background. This project strengthened the female target group and gave a voice to the diversity of the community.

Voortborduren is the result of a collaboration between De Voorkamer, Shay Raviv and designer Floor Nijdeken. The project was funded by Kansfonds, KFhein fonds and Stichting Carel Nengerman fonds.

The final work was exhibited at Utrecht city hall from January till March 2019. 


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