Cardboard "Bum" Sheets: Insulting or Enlightening?
The creator of a bedding line designed to look like cardboard boxes, or, more precisely, the bedding of a homeless person sleeping on the street, defended itself after Swedish homeless advocates criticized the design as insulting.
"To the people and press of Sweden," begins a statement posted today on the Facebook page for Snurk, the Amsterdam-based home-furnishing company behind the "Le-Clochard" line of bedding, named with the French word for "bum."
"We are very glad to hear that our Le-Clochard bedding is raising so much attention with the Swedish press, because this was one of the goals when we created the bed sheets," the statement continued. "We are sorry to hear however, that so many reactions are negative."
Snurk co-founders Peggy van Neer and Erik van Loo created the design four years ago to fight homelessness by supporting the Dutch Foundation for Homeless Youngsters (SZN) with a portion of proceeds from sales of the bedding, the statement explained.
The Le-Clochard design is hardly new; it has been available for four years, according to the company.
But the recent kerfuffle began after the duvet covers went on sale last month at Stockholm's NK department store, for about $104 each, the Aftonbladet newspaper reported. Yvonne Borg, of Stockholm City Mission, told the paper the bedding is insulting and exploitative.
Snurk has donated 50,000 euros (about $65,800) from what it called "a large portion of proceeds" from the sales of Le-Clochard to charity, specifically to SZN, according to the company's website.
The funds have "furnished a new shelter home for homeless teen Moms," the statement said. SZN has told Snurk that the publicity is worth even more than these material benefits, the statement added.
Snurk said it had partnered with homeless charities in England, Belgium and Germany in similar arrangements.
"In France the project was also misunderstood," said the statement. "Perhaps it's a cultural thing? We see good in the controversy of combining soft, warm sheets with harsh reality of sleeping on the streets. … [i]t will confront the person that sleeps under it every night, reminding them of how fortunate they are."
The Le-Clochard page on Snurk's website says, "Sleep on the street so a homeless youngster doesn't have to."
The duvet covers were nearly sold out, according to Aftonbladet. A search for the sheets on NK's website today turned up no results.