The Barcelona studio for designers with Down’s syndrome and autism

People with intellectual disabilities often approach creativity in unique ways. José María Batalla, founder of La Casa de Carlota studio, explains why he employs designers with disabilities (spoiler: it’s not an act of kindness)

People with intellectual disabilities often approach creativity in unique ways. José María Batalla, founder of La Casa de Carlota studio, explains why he employs designers with disabilities (spoiler: it’s not an act of kindness)

“We don’t employ people who have disabilities, but people who have an interesting capacity for design. As a professional design studio, our job is to surprise our clients every day with creative, new, innovative ideas. Here, our vision of creativity is inclusive. This means we know there is talent to be found in different people, cultures, ages and in very personal situations, such as being born with Down’s syndrome, autism or schizophrenia.

Joan is one of La Casa de Carlota’s designers. He’s been with us for four years and he has Asperger syndrome, a kind of autism. He doesn’t know and he doesn’t care what autism is. He eats with the team before work hours and he’s aware that his job is very important for us. He’s happy that he’s been hired for his creative abilities.

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Odile, who’s over 40 years old, has Down’s syndrome. She hates it when people treat her like a child; when they give up their seat for her on the train or when people yell at her instead of talking normally. She is absolutely conscious about her disability, but she doesn’t consider it any prevention in life.

We don’t do this to be kind. If someone doesn’t show creative capacity, it doesn’t make sense to hire him. My advice? Don’t hire a disabled person just because he or she has a disability. Hire them because you need their abilities. We push these people’s contributions to the limit, turning their ideas into communications and publicity campaigns. They are born different and for that reason, they continually surprise us with ingenious solutions. Theirs are much less rational compared to ideas that stem from traditional, logical thought.

‘Don’t hire a disabled person just because he or she has a disability. Hire them because you need their abilities’

There’s a human factor too. People with these kinds of disabilities are often really good at empathising. They bring happiness and good vibes to the team. Ignoring the value of their unique contribution puts the creative sector at a disadvantage.

To the rest of our team, it shows new ways of seeing things, the value of a wide range of ideas. It’s not a burden. It’s a priceless opportunity.”

Featured image and above: posters created by La Casa de Carlota’s unique team

Series: Work in progress

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