Dezeen Magazine

Dolls by Alexa Lixfeld

More from Alexa Lixfeld: the Hamburg designer has collaborated with Sri Lankan company Selyn to create a range of dolls adapted from drawings by children.

The designer worked with children from the Royal International School in Kurunegala, Sri Lanka, to produce a series of drawings that were translated into dolls at the same scale.

The dolls are manufactured from hand-dyed and hand-woven cotton by local women.

The project aimed to raise funds for the Selyn Socio-Economic Development Foundation, founded by Lixfeld to improve education for children in the area and provide employment opportunities for local women.

"The design of this project is a project design rather than only a product design," says Lixfeld. "It involves all aspects of the social and cultural facts found in Sri Lanka, and involves all aspects of the manufacturing methods of the company as well as the dreams and visions these people have."

Here's some information from the designer:



I went to Sri Lanka to cooperate with a company called Selyen. They dye cotton, weave it on hand looms and manufacture different products from this material. They have the possibility to export toys. All other products remain mostly inland.

I looked at all the different steps of production, talked to the people involved - lived in their homes, asked a lot of questions. They have a dream - to build a school where pupils learn to speak and write English and get good education and sports facilities without paying a fortune in school fees. Orphans and other less fortunate children should be able to attend for free, so with all the involved concerns I made the concept of building a foundation. The foundation is called "Selyn Socio-Economic Development Foundation“.

The aim of the foundation is:

“We will make an earnest endeavor to foster the intellectual, social, ethical, moral, spiritual and emotional development of the less fortunate children of Sri Lanka by assisting them in all aspects to become competent and employable and we will also create sustainable and practical socio economic opportunities for rural women in order for them to achieve life long success".

Besides giving a percentage of the profit from all Selyn products, i made up this special project to have a high percentage of 50% to the fund. The project involves the pupils, all the workers and so all parts of the company. Women irrespective of caste, creed, religion or race have a common goal – to make a better life for their families and for their children.

80% of the sales proceeds will be transferred in support of the activities of the “ SELYN Socio – Economic Development Foundation “ – Project supported by the Women of Selyn Hand crafted and made with 100% cotton natural fabric woven and stitched by the women of SELYN.

So i designed the dolls with the Grades 1, 2 and 3 students of the Royal International School , Kurunegala North Western Province of Sri Lanka. The drawings were transferred 1:1 to the dolls. This is why we can find big heads with small feet, square heads etc. All dolls are truly unique and have the name of the child who made it up or a name that was given to it by the child.

About the company:

Located in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka, SELYN is a private initiative, manufacturing and exporting handloom textiles and textile-based toys and handicrafts. We strive to uphold the principles of Fair Trade and to provide a sustainable livelihood for all the women and men involved in our organization.

We manufacture 100% cotton natural hand woven fabrics and export toys & children’s products, fabric -based children’s room & home accessories and household textile & linen and other handicrafts. SELYN aims to promote the growth of the handloom industry and provide a sustainable livelihood to its members. Furthermore, we strive to be socially responsible and endeavour to distribute the benefits to our roots.

To build partnerships and to grow together to make our common dream a real one. We at SELYN hope to spread the benefits of Fair Trade into our communities by empowering our artisans and members to have a better livelihood.

“What we are trying to do may be just a drop in the ocean; But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop” - Mother Theresa