Year | 2023
Location | Derby, Derbyshire
Clients | Maison Foo & The Sanctuary Group

Story Chefs ‘Theatrical Kitchen’ enables people seeking sanctuary in Derby to share their food and stories.

As a Theatre Company of Sanctuary, Maison Foo work with people seeking sanctuary in Derby through their Creative Sanctuary Group. Through this project, they have been working with postgraduate students from Sheffield School of Architecture to co-design and prototype a portable kitchen and storytelling space for use in different public spaces throughout the UK. This project aspires to build stronger communities by bringing together people seeking sanctuary and facilitate discussion through sharing food and stories with the public. This aims to bring about social change by sharing positive heart-warming stories to oppose government and media narratives, and to empower and build confidence for people seeking sanctuary so that they feel less isolated and feel their voices are being heard.

The students have also learned a lot through the co-design process, the making of the prototype and discussions with the Creative Sanctuary Group. The design that has been prototyped has been nicknamed the ‘Box of Tricks’ and consists of two stackable boxes that can be moved around in a car and then opened out with tables, cooking equipment and colourful fabric. This came about after a series of in-person and virtual workshops with the Creative Sanctuary Group, sharing ideas (and of course food) using scale models brought by the students, and help from the Maison Foo volunteers to facilitate discussion. These ideas were then put together by the students in Sheffield.

“This project has been such an empowering experience for members of our Creative Sanctuary Group. Many of our group are often living life in other people’s hands, waiting for decisions to be made, living in limbo. So the opportunity to be in the role of ‘The Client’ and to be the one making decisions has had such a positive effect. To have their voices heard and see their ideas come to life for the Story Chef pop-up kitchen has been A truly amazing experience. We can’t wait to see how the project grows from this point onwards.”

Bethany Sheldon Artistic Director, Maison Foo

“I loved the opportunity to meet Maison Foo and everyone from the Creative Sanctuary Group! We all had such a lovely morning.”

Will Lawrence, MArch student at Sheffield School of Architecture


Mentor: Dan Jary
Client: Maison Foo & The Sanctuary Group
Location: Derby, Derbyshire
Students: Ella Freeman, Wanaphas Kriangkriwankin, William Lawrence, Hanna Radwanska, Andreea Gheorghe, Amelia Coles, Ailsa Johnston, Kristin Read, Gonca Gureler, Dexi Wang, Yue Yin