Who Are The 14 Creators Taking Part In The Prada-backed Experimental Design Lab? Spoiler Alert: They’re incredibly talented and super amazing.
Artist Theaster Gates and Prada Group have named the first batch of creatives scheduled to participate in the Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab with the aim to foster increased visibility for Black innovators across sectors of design. The experimental design lab will run for three years.
Prada first announced the project in September, 2021 via instagram:
Today, the #PradaGroup, in partnership with @rebuild_foundationand @dorchester_industries by @theastergates Studio, announces the launch of Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab, a three-year programme anchored on Chicago’s South Side empowering emerging and established designers of color through design awards and public programming. Each Experimental Design Lab awardee will be nominated for the Experimental Design Awards, which will honor rising designers with financial support, mentorship and creative opportunities.
Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab is headed by Gates’ art and neighbourhood transformation platform, Rebuild Foundation. The fourteen designers and artists have been chosen for their tremendous achievements and efforts in their respective fields. The nominees were announced on Tuesday 5 April, 2022 in Chicago, USA. This is where the hub of the design lab takes place. The nominees hail from all over – including New York, Miami, Los Angeles and London.
Meet the Creators
1. Kyle Abraham (New York)
Abraham is an American choreographer, dancer and head of his own dance company, A.I.M est. 2006. He produces large collections of works within his own company and collaborates on projects with various dance/theatre companies. These include Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, New York City Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Paul Taylor American Dance and American Ballet Theater.
2. Yemi Amu (New York)
Amu works in agriculture and is the owner and founder of Oko Farms which aims to practice and promote aquaponics which is a sustainable farming method, that lowers the impact of climate change, saves water and increases food for New York City.
3. Salome Asega (New York)
Asega is an artist and researcher. She is also a Technology Fellow in the Ford Foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression program. Bridging the gap between tradition and new media is essential to her work. Salome Asega has undertaken fellowships and residencies with Eyebeam, New Museum, The Laundromat Project, and Recess Art. She is currently the co-host of the speculative talk show Hyperorpia: 20/30 Vision on bel-air radio, and is also a director of POWRPLNT, a digital art collaboratory in Bushwick.
4. Germane Barnes (Miami)
Barnes is a research and design practitioner in architectural design. His main interest is in the connection between architecture and identity. His area examines architecture’s social and political agency through historical research and design speculation.
This includes mining architecture, its social and political agency and how the built environment has influenced black domestic life. Barnes has had his work featured in multiple esteemed institutions such as: The Museum of Modern Art NY, San Francisco MoMA, LACMA, The New York Times, Chicago Architecture Biennial, MAS Context, The Graham Foundation, Metropolis Magazine, Architect Magazine, DesignMIAMI/Art Basel, Domus and The National Museum of African American History.
5. Maya Bird-Murphy (Chicago)
Bird-Murphy is a designer (Architecture), and educator who is building equity in design through her travelling design lab. This is through her company Chicago Mobile Makers; in which she is the founder and Executive director. This nonprofit organisation has won many awards for bringing design-focused skill-building workshops to underrepresented communities.
6. Brandon Breaux (Chicago)
Breaux is a fine Artist and designer whose creative work consists of painting, sculptures, web, video, print and interactive projects. The works he produces are currently to assist clients marketing efforts, attracting and maintaining consumer loyalty and interest. Breaux’s primary goal through his work is to produce creative solutions, with authentic sensibility and undeniable aesthetics. He is well known for his work on all three of Chance the Rapper’s album covers.
7. Damarr Brown (Chicago)
Brown is a rising star chef who currently works at Virtue Restuarant and Bar, and appeared on the show Top Chef in 2022. Brown has cooked under Chef Erick Williams at the nationally acclaimed mk for seven years and also spent two years at Roister. As a chef, Damarr Brown believes that all cultures celebrate, grieve and come together around a table, that food has the power to bring that to everyone.
8. Tolu Coker (London)
Coker is a fashion designer, whose brand is based around community, craftsmanship and cultural inclusion. Coker’s label is vibrant, sophisticated, largely genderless and is made with sustainable practices that include the collections being manufactured locally, fair wages for workers and using deadstock fabrics and upcycling waste materials. Tolu Coker’s collection “SORO SOKE: Diaspora ’68” is part of London Fashion Week’s Autumn/Winter collection of 2021.
9. Summer Coleman (Chicago)
Coleman is a graphic designer who runs her own Brand Strategy and Marketing design company, Summer Coleman Design formerly known as Blkndgraphics. Coleman has worked for Chicago Transit Authority, the University of Chicago, The Tracers book club, South Shore Chamber of Commerce, Theaster Gates and The Silver Room. She has also been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago with Kerry James Marshall’s “Mastry” exhibition.
10. Kenturah Davis (Los Angeles)
Davis is a contemporary artist who works between Los Angeles and Accra (Ghana). Davis’ work includes various facets of portraiture and design, she uses text as a point of departure and explores the role language has in shaping how we understand ourselves and the world around us. She uses many forms including drawings, textiles, sculptures and performances.
In 2020 Kenturah Davis was commissioned by LA Metro to create a large scale work to be installed on the new Crenshaw/LAX rail line. Her work has also been included in institutional exhibitions in Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe.
11. Mariam Issoufou Kamara (London)
Kamara is a Nigerian architect. She is the founder of united4design in 2013 which is a global collective of architects working on projects based in America, Afghanistan and Niger. She then founded Atelier Masomi in 2014 which is an architecture research firm that tackles a variety of public, residential, cultural, commercial and urban design projects. Mariam says that her work is “guided by the belief that architects have an important role to play in thinking spaces that have the power to elevate, dignify, and provide a better quality of life.”
12. Kendall Reynolds (Chicago)
Reynolds is CEO and Founder of Kendall Miles Designs which she launched whilst in University in 2014. Her company deals with designing, making, and distributing luxury shoes, that have taken inspiration from edgy, unique and classic styles. Since 2015, Kendall has strived to bring quality and luxury through footwear that lasts and endures through the years.
13. Norman Teague (Chicago)
Teague is a designer and educator who has focused his work around unpacking the complexities of urbanism and communities cultures. The form he works in is a custom furniture design and designed objects that bring a personal touch as well as being functional within a space.
Norman has created consumer products, public sculptures, performances and designed spaces. He has had his work in many exhibits and he has recently been named as a creative collaborator on the exhibitions team for the Barack Obama Presidential Library.
14. Catherine Sarr (Chicago)
Sarr is a jewellery designer, found and owner of her jewellery brand ALMASIKA. Her brand has merged global traditions, sculptured jewellery that use universal symbols that stories that transcend generations and cultures.
Their pieces focus on being elegant, wearable, timeless and are for people who are truly passionate about the world around them. Catherine is currently an engaged member of the Board of Directors of the Diamonds Do Good Foundation, which aims to empower and support those living and working in the natural diamonds communities.
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