We are proud to announce that MADE51 is launching a collaboration with renowned designer, Uma Wang. Our MADE51 X Uma Wang ‘Year of the Rabbit Collection’ features a limited edition of four handmade products, two dolls and two brooches. The items are crafted by Afghan and Syrian refugee women working with MADE51 social enterprise partners, SilaiWali in India, Bebemoss in Türkiye, and Rim N Roll in Lebanon.
The Year of the Rabbit Collection draws inspiration from the Ballad of Mulan, one of the greatest epics of Chinese literature, and its powerful depiction of women's strength and courage. The fabrics used are mostly natural - cotton, linen, and cashmere - consistent with Uma Wang’s philosophy of “from nature, to nature”. The environmentally friendly materials are married with Uma Wang’s signature minimalist design, Asian aesthetics and the refugees’ cultural skills.
These dolls are crafted by Afghan refugee artisans in India. The scarf Luna is wearing is crafted by Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The embroidery pattern is a traditional Syrian motif that depicts the jasmine flower, a symbol of purity, resilience and hope.
When refugee artisans use traditional craftsmanship during displacement, is can be a way to preserve traditions and honour lost homes. Wang recognized this aspect of engaging with MADE51 artisans, saying “The forcibly displaced have the culture they are born into running through their veins, and the displacement experience makes them keener to show the uniqueness and richness of their culture. And when they do so, the beauty and power displayed is beyond our imagination.”
As an industry leader among contemporary Chinese designers, Uma Wang’s collaboration with MADE51 showcases the power of product collaborations to make an impact for artisans who have been forced to flee. In this case, not only did this collaboration bring important, dignified work to refugee women, but it did so at a particularly difficult time.
In early February a devastating earthquake hit Syria and Türkiye. At this time, Syrian refugee artisans in Lebanon were in the midst of working on the first production run of these MADE51 X Uma Wang products. They reported that the income they were earning allowed them to send money back to family members in Syria dealing with the consequences of the disaster. Roula Bohsali, founder of Rim N Roll, reported getting a message from one of the master artisans she works with thanking her on behalf of the artisans, who she said were moved to tears when they were remunerated.
“I saw the handmade Luna and Luca, and they are unbelievably exquisite,” said Uma Wang. “They are very loyal to the design and well beyond my expectations.”
For Wang, the impact of collaborating is a primary motivation for engaging with MADE51 now and in the future. Wang explained, “I am very pleased to be able to collaborate with UNHCR…I have always believed that we are all part of a global village, love and hope are the beacons that light our way. Wherever there is a need, we should do our best to help. We need to open ourselves up to the voices of different groups, with the beacons of hope, help them create possibilities for their future…I hope to continue working with UNHCR, and to generate more inspiration together.”
The limited edition Year of the Rabbit Collection is now available online.