New Modern Design Collection from Menu Highlights the Skills of Exploited Nepalese Women
Kids & Baby
A new collection of products introduced by Danish design brand, Menu, highlights the plight of poor and exploited women in Nepal. Four contemporary Scandinavian design firms have collaborated on Menu’s Nepal Projects, which aims to help build a local economy through which impoverished Nepalese women can avert the perils of prostitution by using their own textile skills to support themselves and their families. To be sold under the Menu label, Nepal Projects features a collection of contemporary home accessories and children’s toys, hand crafted exclusively in Katmandu, which combine the best of Scandinavian design sensibilities with traditional Nepalese hand applied crafts.
A collection of products introduced at this year’s Maison d’Object in September, Nepal Projects features the work of Danish and Swedish design studios, including Afteroom, which created the project’s mascot, Teddy, thanks to the impeccable weaving and tailoring skills of Nepalese women in Katmandu. A ‘minimalist’ Teddy Bear, which Afteroom says, “can be a home ornament as well as one’s beloved comfort object,” Teddy is a hand made 100% wool toy which, in keeping with Scandinavia’s penchant for restraint, retains the instantly recognizable profile of the classic Teddy Bear, while keeping superfluous details to an absolute minimum.
A Hint of Neon, a Danish textiles maker, has created a range of gently colored hand-printed scarfs, cashmere throws and bed covers, each item hand woven in Nepal by women who might otherwise be forced into the sex trade. Marketed under the Menu label, products created for Nepal Projects—a collaboration with the Danish humanitarian aid organization, DANIDA—comprise contemporary home soft goods, including pillows, blankets, scarves, containers, and toys, which showcase the considerable talent of the most marginalized communities in the Himalayan nation.
Bjarne Hansen, the founder of Menu, explains the company’s Nepal Projects initiative: “Many young Nepali women from poor families risk being lured into prostitution. Through education of children and employment of young women we offer a sound and viable alternative. The Nepal Projects is our way to celebrate great craftsmanship, while helping vulnerable workers secure a better future for themselves and their families.”
Stockholm-based Note Design Studio, along with 3 other Danish and Swedish design firms, worked onsite in Nepal to create a suite of products for the Nepal Projects initiative spearheaded by Danish brand, Menu. In collaboration with weavers and other textile artisans, Note Design Studio designed a collection of cashmere and merino wool pillows and a group of simple accessory boxes that reflect the pared down good looks of Scandinavian product design. The country’s natural resources—Himalayan cashmere, leather, cotton, and wool—were used to leverage the talent of local women who, by applying their expertise towards fabric making and tailoring, are able to sustain a measure of economic independence without compromising their dignity.