Dorchester Industries, the design division of Theaster Gates Studio, has partnered with Rebuild Foundation and Prada Group on the Dorchester Industries Experimental Lab.
The three-year program will function as a platform and space for artists and designers of colour, with a goal of amplifying their work, investing in their development and building their communications with large scale organisations that are looking to diversify their teams.
The Experimental Design Lab, located in the south of Chicago, aims to reach an international level. The space will be used for the training, feedback and exposure of future designers participating in the scheme, additionally functioning as a stage for exhibitions, performances and public events.
“I’m thrilled to collaborate with Prada Group to generate a new hub of design energy on the South Side by engaging a network of skilled designers, artists and intellectuals around our first cohort of awardees and their projects,” said Theaster Gates, the founder of Dorchester Industries and Rebuild Foundation and co-chair of the Prada Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council, in a statement.
“For too long, our creative communities have possessed the talent but lacked exposure and opportunity. Now more than ever, today’s leading creatives must elevate the work of emerging designers of colour and connect them to great companies interested in diverse talent.”
Design awards and public programming hosted by the initiative and its creators aim to amplify the work of both emerging and established designers of colour in a number of industry sectors, including fashion, furniture and graphic design.
The Experimental Design Awards have been established to reward rising designers that show creative potential, with nominations made by industry leaders. Award recipients are set to receive a number of creative opportunities, including workshops across the US, to further their chance of recognition on an international scale, as well as financial support.
Chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer of Prada North America, Malika Savell, said about the partnership: “Prada is extremely pleased to be working together with artist and social innovator Theaster Gates to advance our shared goal of equipping the next generation of creative leaders and designers with the skills, network and support that will allow them to grow their artistic influence and professional development.”
The first selection of awardees will be announced in October 2021, gaining the opportunity to take part in public programming at Retreat by Rebuild Foundation. The organisation provides space for artists to collaborate, aimed to strengthen the relationships between designers and their surrounding communities.