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SOCIAL-UNIT #1 | Wouter Kalis and Corinne de Korver | Winner of One Hundred Days Economic Track

Starting from a concept reeling around the incorporation of recycled plastics in the manufacturing of smart, multifunctional and positive designs for the sheltering of homeless people, Amsterdam-based duo Wouter Kalis and Corinne de Korver ideated a sustainable bed unit for homeless shelters. Designed for the Salvation Army, it combines a bed and storage on 3 square meters and is it made out of recycled plastics, bottle caps and beer crates.

In Holland, the homeless are being sheltered in single rooms of approximately 16 square meters. Aid organisations such as the Salvation Army have progressive goals for the homeless they accommodate. Their aim is to reconnect the willing and able homeless with society. In sharp contrast to these positive goals are the interiors of the facilities. In many cases, the interiors are old, broken and too large for the space. They do not invite positive action towards the future.

Wouter Kalis and Corinne de Korver, founders of the Social-Unit design studio, have decided to work on a solution to better align the Salvation Army progressive goals with the interiors of the shelters. They have investigated how the furniture could be improved in homeless shelters in Amsterdam. The criteria were simple: it had to be easy to clean, space saving, not very expensive and very strong. These were the basic conditions and they were all practical in nature. The team though wanted to add an extra basic condition: the positive emotional experience of space and the surroundings. Since for people in a stressful period feelings of security and peace are very important, they wanted to make sure that lying in the sleeping compartment gives a feeling of homeliness and protection.


The design for the cupboard bed is a combination of a sleeping compartment and a storage space on 3 squared meters. The sleeping compartment is 100x230x115cm and can be closed off with curtains or shutters. It has a wardrobe of 100x65x230cm and a storage space on top of the bed and underneath. It is produced out of recycled consumer plastic waste such as bottle caps and beer crates, mainly polypropeen and polyetheen.


Wouter and Corinne have designed the beds in such a way that it can be manufactured using very simple woodworking techniques, such as sawing, milling, cutting and drilling. It is manufactured in social working projects that provide simple day routines for homeless and drug addicts. The production of the units in social wood workshop provides a feeling of contribution to the participating clients and increases their feeling of self-worth and confidence. It forms an element of the process of reintegration onto the labour market and into society. Instead of emphasising the problems and needs of the homeless they offered them a home and focus on the potential and the possibilities of the Salvation Army and their guests.


About Wouter Kalis and Corinne de Korver

Social-Unit is an Amsterdam-based design studio created by Wouter Kalis and Corinne de Korver. They are dedicated to design that solves problems and improve situations, by producing simple, smart and positive designs that incorporate recycled materials and contribute to social employment projects. They have been recently invited to participate at the prestigious Milan Furniture Fair, presenting their award-winning Social-Unit project produced from recycled waste plastic.


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