What makes a nation?

This is the crux of our project. When we first started pondering the situation of the Olympic Athletes, called to partake in the Rio Olympics as “Refugees” without representation, we found the paradox of being stateless in the world’s biggest display of statehood, uniquely equivocal and somewhat outrageous.

For the first time ever, a refugee team was supposed to compete at the Olympic Games, representing 65 million displaced people worldwide, and for the first time ever, 10 athletes would be there with no national team to belong to, no flag to march behind and no anthem to be played for them.

In this context, we - a collective of creatives- in partnership with a group of refugees, decided to do something about that. Together, we came up with the concept of The Refugee Nation: a nation reimagined to challenge geography and the notion of territories. I'm proud to be one of the co-founders of The Refugee Nation.

Our nation is a borderless ideal, immersed in the core values of human rights, and above all, open, to taking in those in need anywhere in the world.

This symbolic nation was meant to pay a tribute to the refugee athletes in the Olympics, and by extension, all the refugees in the world. Together, we created a flag and an anthem, all refugees could call their own. 

To design the flag of this new nation, we teamed up with an artist, but not just any artist. We partnered up with Yara Said, a Syrian refugee who had to leave her own country, to find asylum in Amsterdam after graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Damascus.

The flag of a nation without borders, had to reflect the conflict between the dream of crossing over, and the obligation of staying within the lines. Said was very familiar with the struggle and the complex circumstances brought up by forced displacement, so she created a meaningful, powerful flag.

The idea was inspired from the only passport so many refugees have used throughout their journey: Life-vests. The flag is a vidid orange with a single black stripe, reminiscent of movement, pain, fear and hope.

"A black and orange (colors of the life vests) is a symbol of solidarity for all those who crossed the sea in search of a new country. I myself wore one, which is why I so identify with these colors—and these people."

- Yara Said

The refugee flag is now a recognized symbol around the world: from refugee camps, to cities, to museums, even to create new jobs for refugees: wherever there is a refugee the symbol of hope will be there.

Watch the case study:

Official videos launched during the Olympic Games:

Partnership with Makers Unite that create jobs to refugees.

Direct mail:

Part of the permanent collection of the MOMA and Victoria & Albert Museum and several museums around the world.

There is a lot still to happen. Everything that has happened so far: