Social label
Design creates socio economic opportunities for disadvantaged persons in the ‘working world’. Social label is a new ‘work concept’ for people with a distance to the labour market. Social label involves designers, companies (social firms), healthcare and governmental organisations for new possibilities.

Sense of urgency
Our world is changing rapidly. In our own environment, lets say The Netherlands, you can’t miss the signals given by the government. Budget cuts, decentralization to local or regional government, accompanied by decreased budgets. Of course: people are not waiting for something to happen. The Dutch initiate new opportunities. One of them is really new and can be found in Brabant: Social label.

In the beginning
The project kicked off in 2011.  Motivated by social changes and the quest for alternative ways to live and work together as part of Huttenfestival De Vlek in September 2011. Designers, architects and artists build an experimental village together with local organizations such as health care organization Woodworks of the Amarant group. There was a seminar and there were not enough benches. The makers of the workshop didn’t hesitate a moment and started to make them themselves. With the permission of designer Piet Hein Eek the first Social label >HOUT (wooden furniture) started with sheltered workshop Woodworks. Together with Piet Hein Eek the makers of workshop Woodworks made the collection of furniture in 2012. Roderick Vos is the second designer to offer his support with Social label-product line >VAAS (ceramic vases) in 2013.

What is ‘Social label’?
Social label is a new concept for work and daily activities for people with a ‘distance to the labour market’. Art and care are combined in this initiative in order to create new product lines. In each of the lines the social welfare workers will have an exclusive bond with a renowned designer. The designer enlarges his or her portfolio with a very special cooperation, moving a value based approach centre stage addressing human dignity, slow design, attention and time. These products will be produced, presented and sold by workers in different social workforce centers. See also the products in the webshop www.sociallabel.nl/shop

Why ‘Social label’?
To discover and develop the individual qualities are important policy themes for the government, institutes in health and also companies. Art and culture are able to contribute. Creating something of special value, creating products that matter, products that are valued for their functional and aesthetic value is important to all of us, especially to people with a distance to the labour market. That’s what we call: Socio economics.

It is about designing new processes in work, care and participation based on the talents of people ‘who you are and what you make. Social label contributes to increase employment opportunities for people who want more than anything else to be part of society.  The Social label-products are just ‘the key’. Through the products we tell the story of the makers, we build the stage to show their talent and involve the public.

Future plan
Social label is an initiative of Studio Boot and C-mone (Articipate!). They explicitly invite others to contribute and cooperate in order to bridge the gap of some of us to the labour market. Social label has future plans to encourage companies to offer employment for vulnerable groups in society by introducing special Social label-product lines. In this way companies are connected with a top designer and meaningful quality products., and most of all offering social value, contributing to an inclusive society.

Social label als voorbeeld van social designthinking, community solutions in Ottagon Magazine showing: FREEDOM OF ACCESS. Designing local solutions to develop independent and dignified communities. Future challenges in the social world. We call it: Socio economics.

OTTAGONO, edition march 2014 :
“The French sociologist Alain Touraine claims we are moving into a new era where past models crumble and what is taking shape is a social alternative based on ethics; a world where defending human rights can been the seed to creating community ties. People who have been lucky enough to work on international co-operation projects may endorse this statement. The professional satisfaction stirred when new communities form through personal action is huge, fully compensating all the long months of development. The ethics Touraine speaks of are the foundations to this work, but this does not necessarily mean it involves missionary, volunteer or charity projects rather than strategies for narrowing the gap between the social model and the economic model. Social liberation and collective well-being are the development factors driving the implementation of projects – from multimedia products to architecture – that work to improve the quality of life in a community marginalized by the global economic system. The person is central, exactly as E.F. Schumacher stated in his book Small is Beautiful (1973): this author believed we needed to generate a new system of thought based on attention to people, while material and immaterial assets would come as consequences.
However, in our cases it is precisely the generating of innovative assets that sparks a change in trend, and allows people to evolve. The specific aims of each project are different, from training to healthcare, but the social aim of every one of them is to empower local populations, to make them independent and free to shape their own destinies. Therefore, not development imposed from above, but the creation of tools and structures to facilitate socialization and to feed group dignity.”

Worldy products locally produced. A pink factory where you can come shopping and enjoy the lovely food and drinks, surrounded by the socially sustainable design collection created by Social label. The WerkWarenhuis in Den Bosch, Social label’s home base, offers all this. It includes the Van Aken restaurant where you can enjoy a meal served on the storytelling tableware designed by Edwin Vollebergh while sitting on furniture built by Piet Hein Eek with a pillow by artist Marc Mulders at your back for comfort. Your tasty food is served by people wearing aprons by designer Borre Akkersdijk, and when they are not serving you they may be sweeping the floor using the international award winning designer brooms by Dick van Hoff.

Reintegration work store
In addition to being Social label’s concept store, the WerkWarenhuis is also a place where people can be reintegrated into employment. People can gain experience here working as hosts/hostesses, either in the department store or in the Van Aken café and restaurant inside the store. These work experience placements are arranged by the participants themselves or through partner organisations.

All Social label design products can be found and bought at WerkWarenhuis, Tramkade 24, 5211 VB ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. Or go to the webshop: www.sociallabel.nl/shop.

social label