manon van hoeckel: design in a social crisis

words tiffany vlaanderen|  images manon van hoeckel

“Because there has been so much written and talked about what they call the 'refugee crisis,’  I feel as a Dutch citizen that I’m a part of it and I should act like so,” says Manon van Hoeckel, a twenty-four-year-old designer from the south of The Netherlands.

Her latest project, In Limbo Embassy, is centered around asylum seekers who are already in The Netherlands and unable to return to their country of origin. Starting in September, the mobile embassy will travel throughout the Netherlands, inviting local residents, passers-by, and government officials for dialogue, debate, and cultural exchange in a neutral meeting space. On board, refugees will act as ambassadors for the project.

“I meet a lot of people who say they don’t agree with how things are being handled with this issue now, but they don’t know how to help,” says Manon. And, oftentimes, refugees do not feel adequately represented by their own embassy or fairly portrayed by the media. “I hope the In Limbo Embassy can serve as a platform for people to be part of this movement," she adds.

The mobile embassy will start its journey in Amsterdam and then make its way to Eindhoven for the 2015 Dutch Design Awards, where the project has been nominated in the Communication Design category. 


 where do you live — I live in Amsterdam New-West, in a former nursing home.

favorite neighborhood dinner — I just moved, so still have to discover one.

luggage — As little as possible.

gadgets — iPod

favorite accessory — Colored socks

favorite charity — Radi-Aid: Africa for Norway

favorite hotel — WOW Amsterdam

favorite apps — Google Maps

favorite airport — I don’t like airports, because they’re always cold and horribly lit, and they try to seduce you into buying gigantic Toblerone bars.

favorite airline — The stewardesses from Malaysian airlines wore nice outfits.

home is…wherever I can be comfortably alone.


where would you like to live? — Still looking for the right place, somewhere where life takes place outside more.

where & when were you happiest? — Eating spring rolls in Vietnam last February.

what do you consider your greatest achievement? — Graduating and finding my own niche in design. 

what is your current state of mind? — Tired but satisfied.


how many trips do you take a year? — Four to five

how many of those are vacations? — One to two

without traveling, you relax by — Cooking stewed meat

won’t board the plane before/without — Chewing gum

indispensable in your carry-on — My iPod

take off routine — Trying to calculate the percentage of males and females on the plane.

first thing you do after landing — Hope that no one will start clapping.

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