Our purpose as prison management and staff is to improve the competence of the inmates, making them better fit to meet the demands of society after their release. As such the different workshops and project enables us with a more holistic, positive way of thinking to handle the challenges of inmates at different competence levels. The way we introduce design thinking has an approach which has minimal demands on formal knowledge for the participants. Our prisoners lack formal training and education. An intervention that is in this way flexible and adjustable to the clients level of functioning, is therefore of great interest in our field of rehabilitation. Design gives the participant a genuine experience of coping and gives access to new skills and concepts in regard to emotional and behavioural experiences and regulation. It strengthens the ability to self representation and communication and trains the ability to take other persons perspective and counteract rigidity.Design is used here as a tool to build creativity, pride, dignity and most importantly as a relationship building tool between inmates and employees. Design development processes and internal production are combined in our prison, contributing to strengthening and developing our prison operations. We have in recent years tried to develop cooperation with design expertise in various projects in several prisons to explore opportunities from collaboration with other disciplines. If the prisons take a more active part in society by improving external links in our operations and an improved cooperation between different work disciplines internally, it will be seen as groundbreaking for such enterprise by putting design on the prison’s agenda. This creates a more positive impression of modern correctional services, contributing to its development on a local and hopefully national level.
In 2009 Vik prison and Bergen Academy of Art and Design started to collaborate. The prison is hosting students to experience how to interact with inmates in creative processes. During workshops, where inmates and students work in groups, gives a win win effect for both. Working with design gives training in reconsidering and reflection and canalize creativity in positive ways. Crime is mostly done by impulsive actions; reflection is a good tool for self-control. To manage this type of labour that involves inmates in the whole design process from the beginning to the end, gives meaning and proudnes.
Vik prison’s philosophy is to have inmates engaged in a high level of activity. An inmate whom is working or studying during daytime and beside this is taking part in spare time activities, such as exercise and cultural events, is most likely better prepared to have a crime free life after completing his sentence. Vik i Sogn is a small town between fjord and mountains in the western part of Norway. Vik prison has been a part of the local community since1865. The number of inmates is 39, divided into a high security wing (28) and a low security wing (11).
Studio Bjørgvin is a inhouse designstudio located in Bjørgvin prison in Bergen, Norway. Two desigerns is working in the studio where they together with inmates developes and work with different kind of design projects. The studio is working in different prisons in the correctional service in western Norway. One project has been developing the bench JAM together with inmates in Vik prison. The bench isproduced on order in the workshops in Vik prison.
Vik prison is proud to present this well designed peace of furniture. Produced entirely by inmates in Vik prison. The bench JAM has its inspiration from the traditional wood-working bench or saw bench used in workshops or in the forest cutting wood. The top plate is connected to the legs by two wooden screws that helds the top locked to the base.The bench consist of no metal nails or screws, just wood itself. The construction of Jam exploits the properties in the wood in a constructive way. Materials used is solid oak.
The correctional Service, Western Norway
Design by Studio Bjørgvin and inmates in Vik prison.
Produced in Vik Prison.