Graduate 2016: A vegetable garden for refugee camps

Education and students

A vegetable garden to improve life in a refugee camp. That was the goal of the architect Rena Gonato’s graduation project for KADK, which was awarded the Duravit Scholarship. She has made a fold-up vegetable garden to make everyday life better and articulate the dignity of refugees.

What is your graduation project about?
My final project is all about creating an reference point in an ephemeral existence. In the project this is given concrete form as a fold-up vegetable garden for use in refugee camps, where initiatives and projects of a more permanent nature can be difficult to implement as a result of legal, economic and resource considerations. The vegetable garden kit is intended as an activity that can increase quality of life and act as a motivational catalyst and a tool to get through an often-banal day-to-day life in the refugee camp. The idea is to use the vegetable garden individually in relation to a small household, or in groups to create space and a sense of community on a larger scale.

Unfolded vegetable garden

What would your graduation project mean for society, if it were realised?
It would be great and amazing to see the realisation of my graduation project. I regard my project as relevant for a large group of people who miss the unique expression in a tight context, where industrial and handmade aspects come together in every product. I also believe there are major qualities in the fact that you can refresh your blue-painted or ribbed dinner service by putting it together with new solutions. The encounter with traditional dinner service elements generates new stories, which highlight and complement the individual characters.

What is your strength as a designer?
My strength as a designer lies in my curiosity about the aesthetic and functional possibilities of materials. I work on the different qualities of materials and develop their expression through systematic experimentation.




Tragt til at vande køkkenhaven med
Køkkenhaven i funktion

How important was it for you that your graduation project was implemented in cooperation with Royal Copenhagen?
The cooperation meant that the results I arrived at could realistically be implemented in their current production. It provided me with a greater insight into industrial possibilities and some very specific references and traditions to work further on. It was also interesting and almost nostalgic to return to Royal Copenhagen and be allowed to work further on the craft, which I learned in my time as a blue painting apprentice at Royal Copenhagen in 2007.


Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I have always found it hard to imagine where I will be in the future. I am an impulsive person and act intuitively. But right now I would soon like to be working in a ceramic design workshop, where I can develop new design solutions. I also hope to be busy on more collaborative projects with both Royal Copenhagen and other design companies.