Designer Donna Karan has teamed up with a Parsons New School of Design to launch DOT, a Design, Organization and Training core for rising artists in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
According to HollywoodReporter,
The designer, who previously has championed Haitian craftsmanship with her Urban Zen Foundation, has partnered with the private art-and-design school to help foster Haiti’s emerging talent. Karan, who has been deeply inspired by the country’s craftsmanship since visiting Port-au-Prince following 2007’s massive earthquake, also heads up the Urban Zen Foundation, which works to empower Haitian artisans by providing models of sustainable commerce. Along with Parsons, the Urban Zen Foundation also will be responsible for providing tools and resources to DOT.
In an interview with WWD
, the 66-year-old designer stated, “I always wanted to start with vocational education because when you give someone a job, it’s like a fishing rod. It’s teaching them how to do it for themselves. Everyone in Haiti has an artisan capability. That is their true nature.” Eventually, the designer hopes to bring Parsons students to Haiti to collaborate with Haitian artisans and revamp the fashion world — which, she notes, has become too homogenized. “When I was first starting out, the differences between New York, Paris, Milan and London were vast. Now it’s the same stores, same kind of restaurants, same everything. Where’s the speciality? That comes from artists and designers.”
Correction to Hollywood Reporter Article, the earthquake was in 2010 not 2007.
Want to apply for a Parsons Fellowship?
The Parsons Design
Fellowship program is a competitive program launched by Donna Karan’s Urban Zen. Launched in April 2015, the program is open to current seniors and final year graduate and graduating students (2015) who are able to travel for the specified dates in the summer of 2015. Donna Karan/Urban Zen and Parsons faculty will review applications. The three successful Parsons Design Fellows will travel to Haiti for a 6 to 8 week period beginning early June through July/August 2015. They will be joined by two Parsons faculty for shorter (5 day) periods. In Haiti, the Parsons fellows will research a number of product explorations for design development and production, using local practices and locally-sourced materials. In addition, students will develop and lead workshops with the artisan community of Haiti. – Apply here: