Case Study: Doctors Without Borders

Reframing a Crisis

More than 65 million people around the world are currently fleeing their homes due to conflict, persecution and natural disasters. At the heart of the matter is something we can all fundamentally relate to—the loss of security, familiarity, and a sense of belonging.

The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides refugees and internally displaced people with everything from basic needs to advanced healthcare and shelter, with the singular agenda of helping people in need. Striving to raise awareness and reframe perceptions, the organization approached A Hundred Years to develop campaign material and a website for a traveling exhibition depicting the refugee experience.

The team started by gaining deep insight into the refugee experience by interviewing Doctors Without Borders’ New York staff—many with field experience who could offer a first-hand point of view. A rich archive of frequently updated photography from the field also provided a helpful unbiased perspective. Through a highly collaborative process, the team honed in on a look and feel that would resonate with the wide target demographic—pretty much anyone invested in humanitarian efforts—and looked to Doctors Without Borders as expert storytellers to guide the narrative.


Symbol of Home
An iconic house symbol serves as a roving metaphor for the concept of home as a place defined as much by relationships and support networks as it is by physical location. Designed with a dotted line, the icon appears in a parallax scroll on the website, superimposed over images depicting moments along the refugee’s journey.

Moments of Strength
Rather than appealing through sympathy, the imagery focuses on individual moments of strength, such as the story of 36-year-old Syrian refugee Bahar, who fled to Denmark and is awaiting her children’s arrival for another three years.

Design for Utility
The stencil-like typography is inspired by the utilitarian number plate found on places like shipping containers.


The exhibit, Forced From Home, launches mid-September and travels to Queens, Manhattan, Washington, D.C, Boston, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. The event is expected to travel to another 19 cities across the US in 2017 and 2018 reaching more than a million people. Anyone is invited to sign up for a tour of the free exhibition.

Photography: Luca Sola / MSF, Francesco Zizola / MSF

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