Refuge Lansing

a simple design for complex stories

In 2017, I was asked to collaborate on a very meaningful community project: Refuge Lansing.

As a designer, it was with great honor to contribute my publication skills and work with a team of artists and activists to make Lansing a more welcoming space for refugees and their families.

the discovery

Asking the producers for three words to describe the look and feel they wanted, they set for my challenge: simple, modern, photo-centric. With a broad scope (12 stories) and tight deadline (5 weeks until unveiling), I knew the content begged for no less than a book. Eventually, a traveling poster exhibit would tour the Greater Lansing Area to raise awareness and funds.

Refuge Lansing is a grassroots, community response to the climate of fear and intimidation facing immigrants and refugees in our present political context. More than two dozen creative professionals volunteered to work with refugee families in Greater Lansing to share their stories.

Mission statement from Refuge Lansing
the concept

With 12 writers crafting roughly 1000 words per story and 12 photographers submitting three images per subject, I aimed to design a page template that provide simplicity, while also showcasing each of these personal stories. My goal was to let these stories shine without allowing the design to detract or give any pause.

the finish

Below is one of the twelve stories — four of the finished 64 pages. A full-page leading image (left) introduces each story, with its complementing page (right) drawing you into the story — it’s light on ink and heavy on meaning.

Turning the page, a second spread allows for each story to expand and bring depth, each page delivering supporting images, additional details, and often a tear-jerker conclusion.

The Refuge Lansing book was designed and published through my business, Bibbee Creative.