Spotlight: Rachel Goldie

Winner’s Story

Over the next few months we will be sharing the stories behind some of the winning projects from the 2017 Creative Conscience Awards. Up first is Rachel Goldie, highly-commended in the fashion & textiles category. 

By offering her services as a designer to individuals who have had experience of homelessness, Rachel Goldie works with participants to create objects which are entirely unique, with and for them. Currently studying an MA in textiles at the RCA, the project has inspired Rachel to use her practice as way of promoting empathy and providing a platform for storytelling to marginalised voices.

“Homelessness is an issue which I have become increasingly aware of since moving to London. On a personal level, my notion of what home means and its significance have changed drastically. A personal encounter with a rough sleeper, made me realise my own ignorance to the experience of others and motivated me make this cause the focus of my work. There is a strong need for a shift in attitudes towards homelessness and I believe this change can be facilitated by developing ways to encourage understanding and empathy.

I began my research based on my own observations of the material experience of homelessness. Looking particularly at the contrast of defensive architecture which is aggressive, threatening, solid and unchanging to the fragility of their belongings which are very temporary, soft and unfixed.

I gathered primary research from speaking with rough sleepers on the street, interviewing charitable organisations and discussing my ideas with activists and from these enquiries I realised homeless are not really a group but a collective of individuals with each person has their own unique story, therefore approaching this issue in a ‘one size fits all’ manner would not be appropriate. I concluded that designing an item which helps people be homeless was conflicting to the intentions of my work.

This is where I made the decision to offer my services as a designer directly to individuals who have had experience of homelessness, to work one-to-one with participants to create unique objects with, and for them. The design process itself creating a greater sense of empathy between designer and individual. The final objects therefore not only express the individuals’ personalities but also illustrate the unique story of their exchange.

Made By Us explores the material experience of homelessness. Individuals who experience homelessness lose a place to call home and a stake in society and this can frequently lead to a loss of sense of personal identity. For each of the individuals that I have worked with I believe that the project has allowed them to reflect on their current situation and give them new strength and sense of confidence.”