What if we could lend and borrow citizenships? What if we could exchange our national rights with a citizen of another country? Why is it that we can exchange today houses, cars, experiences, services, skills, but not passports?
By Shay Raviv
Reacting on these questions, Stefania Vulpi, a young designer from Italy, has created ‘Universal Unconditional’ (UNUN), a radical concept design for changing the system of boundaries and citizenship. This speculative digital platform would allow people to swap, lend or borrow citizenships for a limited amount of time.
After creating a personal profile, people could select for how long they’d like to lend their citizenship to someone and apply for new temporary citizenship for themselves. People could even choose which rights they’d borrow and lend, like healthcare, asylum, employment, or schooling.
It is a utopian concept that was born to provoke debate and question today’s status-quo concerning citizenship and borders. ‘It’s a crazy idea, but it’s also crazy wonderful to think about it,’ Vulpi said in an interview with Dezeen.
Vulpi designed a range of printed materials to accompany the site, including official stationery and a passport that would clearly identify the holder as a member of the UNUN Embassy, and state their lending and borrowing status.
‘Today people move around the world more than ever. Our citizenship defines our status and rights in a foreign country, but it can often bring struggles and limitations in exercising the universal rights we are entitled to,’ Vulpi says.
Universal Unconditional offers a simple yet radical concept, that evokes a debate and demonstrates the understanding that citizenship as we know it is not the only way.
Shay Raviv is a service designer and design researcher living in Utrecht.