Social Label

Taking part thanks to designer products

Finding meaningful work and taking part in society. For some people that’s not always easy. An impairment or psychological condition can often appear an insurmountable obstacle. But the Social Label Foundation and its line of design products proves it needn’t be that way.

A rugged table made of driftwood, a broom fashioned from an old bicycle frame and an apron of discarded tent canvas – these are just some of the design products by Social Label. The designs win praise from trend-setting magazines, are admired at design expos and gain major exposure on social media. And not only because of their originality. The way they’re made is just as special: the products are dreamt up by leading designers and tailor made for people on the margins who also manufacture them. Producing these beautiful items gives the makers a sense of pride and self-confidence and the feeling they are no longer on the sidelines of society.

Spreading the message

Social Label shows that people who find it difficult to enter the labour market are often capable of achieving more than they think. But also that they can do more than society thinks they can. It’s this message that the foundation wants to spread as widely as possible – both among those left behind and among consumers, including the visitors to its own premises. In this “work warehouse” (a refurbished animal feed plant), people can eat, drink, shop and visit cultural events. For the catering and sales Social Label also recruits people who are disadvantaged on the labour market, for example because they have experienced a burnout.

How Rabobank Foundation helps

Social Label is a not-for-profit organization, led by a small professional team and helped by various voluntary workers. It is partly dependent on charitable gifts, but is building up self-reliance through the sale of products and catering. For the renovation of its premises in the southern Dutch city of Den Bosch it was able to rely on support from the Rabobank Foundation. Thanks to a donation the building will now be equipped with an area where people with impairments can take part in workshops to make designer products. These products are made in the ten workshops that work with Social Label and in Social Label’s own design lab. The new workplace offers inspiration to the makers and also to visitors, who can now view the production process with their own eyes. The refurbishment was also undertaken in part by people with poor job prospects, working together with designers and tradespeople.