“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Shapes is non‐profit project initiated by 72 Smalldive for Gift and Take. Gift and Take is a social enterprise that engages marginalized members in a society to produce a variety of home and gift products. The primary mission of this initiative was to develop a sewing project in which women living in a shelter home in Singapore could participate. It was hoped that the participants, through this initiative, could improve their basic work management skills and as well as their self‐confidence. In this initiative, the participants not only produced the items, but were also encouraged to give suggestions on the development of the product design. These suggestions were taken into consideration. This ensured that participants were able to identify with the finished product they made.
From the design perspective, the impending challenge was to establish an initiative that could be sustained over time. In other words, the production process should be simple and not confounding to any participants with little work skills. The choice of material should be accessible in terms of cost and easily sourced, in view that small organizations may not have the economic means and supply networks to materials. Last but least, it was hoped that the initiative could impart a sense of ‘design’ so that these participants may add value to their future projects.
Shapes tote bags follow the concept of 2‐dimensional visual. The pattern cutting process is akin to simple art and craft sessions any child would be familiar with. The shapes on the totes exteriors actually served as pocket sleeves. It was desired that these little notions would warmed the heart of the participants and as well as put a smile of the face of the consumers with the message that design exists in our everyday life. The collection was named Shapes, not only because of the geometrical pockets in the exterior, but also because it was a project with a mission to help shape lives of the marginalized in our society. Incidentally, one of the participants left the shelter home and decided to set up a home‐base sewing business, with other unemployed female neighbours, in her home town.