In an effort to support greater visibility for Black creators across fields of design, artist Theaster Gates and Prada Group have named the first cohort of creatives set to participate in the Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab.
The 14 awardees who will participate in the three-year design incubator program were formally named at an event Tuesday evening at Rebuild Foundation’s Stony Island Arts Bank on Chicago’s South Side, where the lab’s hub will be located. The program is a collaborative effort between Gates’ art and neighborhood transformation platform Rebuild Foundation, the design and manufacturing arm of his studio, Dorchester Industries, as well as Prada.
The Experimental Design Lab cohort includes fashion designer Tolu Coker; footwear designer Kendall Reynolds; fine jewelry designer Catherine Sarr; Germane Barnes, Mariam Issoufou Kamara and Maya Bird-Murphy, who are doing work in architectural design; product designer Norman Teague; a dance company led by Kyle Abraham; visual artist Kenturah Davis; fine artist Brandon Breaux; Salome Asega who’s working in art, technology and design; graphic designer Summer Coleman; chef Damarr Brown, and Yemi Amu, who’s doing creative work in agriculture.
Financing over the course of the program will allow the creators to develop and scale existing work, as well as provide room for innovation. Apart from sharing their work locally in Chicago, the cohort will participate in annual activations — including retreats and publicly accessible events — in New York City and Los Angeles to foster greater exposure. More info on the Experimental Design Lab and its ongoing efforts can be found at dorchesterindustries.com.
“At the end of the day, if the talented designers in this cohort are supported to create new work imaginatively, unencumbered by finances and inspired by their fellow cohort members, this program was an astounding success,” Gates told WWD. “My greatest hope is that the world takes note of their talent and that thought leaders leverage their resources to invest in and amplify the work of rising designers of color further.”