Designer Lisanne Koning Thinks Inside the Box for Refugee Children

By: Bill McCool

For her thesis project at Design Academy Eindhoven, Lisanne Koning wanted to think outside of the box, specifically by thinking inside of the box. Knowing that relief packages sent to refugees are filled only with essential goods—food, medicine, and clothing—there’s very little room for a children’s toy or game.

With Inside the Box, colorful games, vehicles, and animals are printed on the inside of a relief package so that they can be used as toys for refugee children. As Koning says on her personal website, “In this way, the aid boxes are not wasted, but get a new life, brightening the days of the most vulnerable.” Children can cut out images from the boxes and put them together, including dice which can be used for a board game that has also been printed on the inside.

In Syria alone, after experiencing the horrors of their civil war, more than 8 million children need some form of humanitarian aid and nearly 3 million of those children are refugees. Even just simple play offers these children, some of whom are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, a much needed coping mechanism and an escape from the grim realities of life in a refugee camp.

It’s just yet another example of how creatives can use smart design to aid the refugee crisis using practical solutions. Recently, Ikea won the 2016 Beazley Design of the Year for their flat-pack temporary shelter that could help eliminate the traditional canvas tenting used in refugee camps which typically lasts for just six months, an entirely unsustainable means of lodging given that the average refugee will spend more than a decade stuck there.

While Koning’s thesis project is merely a concept and has yet to be put into practice, she believes that design can help to connect and educate the world while ultimately making a positive impact.

Visit Unicef to see what you can do to help refugees worldwide.


Bill McCool
Bill McCool is a freelance writer based out of Los Angeles. Though new to the world of design, he has always been a storyteller by trade and he seeks to inspire and cultivate a sense of awe with the work and artists he profiles. When he's not winning over his daughters with the art of the Dad joke, he is usually working on a pilot, watching the Phillies, or cooking an elaborate meal for his wife.