Sheltersuit coat doubles as a sleeping bag for the homeless

Dutch Design Week 2015: fashion designer Bas Timmer has used abandoned tents to create jackets that turn into waterproof sleeping bags for homeless people.

Sheltersuit was created by Timmer in collaboration with business parter Alexander de Groot, and was prompted by the death of a friend's father who had been living on the street.

Sheltersuit by Bas Timmer

The coat can be zipped together with a bottom half to form a sleeping bag. This detachable section can be stored in an accompanying backpack – solving the issue of carrying around a non-waterproof sleeping bag when not in use.

"The most challenging aspect of the design process was to put ourselves in the position of a homeless person," Timmer told Dezeen.

"We immediately said that whatever the design will be, it would have to be warm, strong, waterproof and simple to use. With that in mind, the rest of the design was done step by step in a problem solution method."

"For instance, when we had a jacket in mind we thought about our legs still being exposed to the cold, so we looked at what types of ways people keep their legs warm outside," he added.

Sheltersuit by Bas Timmer

Sheltersuits are made from abandoned tents collected from vacated music festival sites. They are manufactured in Timmer's own studio in Enschede, the Netherlands, in partnership with Syrian volunteers – many of whom are professional tailors.

In return the volunteers are offered assimilation courses, Dutch driving lessons and assistance with finding places to live.

The suits are given to homeless people for free through Timmer and de Groot's Sheltersuit foundation, which aims to distribute 2,500 across the Netherlands.

The jacket was mentioned in an opinion piece by Richard van der Laken, founder of What Design Can Do, as an example of ways Dutch designers are attempting to solve major humanitarian issues.

Sheltersuit by Bas Timmer

Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Pim van der Mijl also tackled challenges faced by displaced people with a living room concept that would bring refugees and locals together, and promote understanding.

Proposed housing solutions for homeless people include sleeping pods that would hang from the side of existing buildings and prefabricated housing that could be moved between temporary sites.

Sheltersuit was shown in the Klokgebouw building during Dutch Design Week 2015, which ran from 17 to 25 October.