Sharing the story of social enterprise design
When industrial design firm and Parcel client Fig40 endeavoured to create a chair that could stand up to use at drop-in centres for those who are homeless, they ended up designing something else as well—a social enterprise. See, not only did they make sure Community provides the durability, cleanability and affordability necessary for those centres, they designed it to be built by the very individuals who come through them. Each chair is comprised of two main parts—a shell made of moulded plywood with a beech veneer and a steel tube frame. With an allen key and a hammer, the chair can be assembled by hand, in under ten minutes, by anyone with a spare hour.
That’s where Street Soccer Canada, also a client of ours, comes in. A nonprofit that organizes friendly games for those who are homeless, the organization also provides peer mentorship and opportunities for employment. So they were the perfect partner to handle the project’s logistics—every Community chair that is purchased will have been built, packed, and shipped by Street Soccer Canada participants.
When it came to branding this social enterprise collaboration, we chose the name Community in order to speak to the purpose behind the project. The chair is built to build opportunities for the very community it serves. And also, Community’s quality manufacturing and design make it appealing to companies and institutions beyond drop-ins and shelters — when those organizations order Community, they become part of that community as well by bringing work to people who need it the most.
We then designed a website for Community to tell the story of the project and allow for online ordering. As we’d done previously for Street Soccer Canada’s own brand and website, we told the story of Community through the voices and faces of individuals involved. As well as introducing the subjects through portraits and quotes, each of them represents a different aspect of Community—the research and design process behind the chair; the social enterprise logistics and impact on those who are homeless; and the value of Community to the organizations who are the end users. Each story connects to the next and thus represents once again the community built around this chair called Community.
“We’d been developing this idea for several years. Although we made progress along the way, once Parcel was on board things really started moving. Through excellent strategy, storytelling, and design the Parcel team were integral to turning this idea into a reality.”
Lee Fletcher, Fig40