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Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab is a three-year program launched in September 2021 by Dorchester Industries – founded by artist Theaster Gates - and Prada Group, in partnership with Theaster Gates Studio and Rebuild Foundation.
The program aims to support and amplify the work of designers of color across the creative industries, thanks to awards that guarantee financial support as well as creative opportunities to foster relationships with leading global companies interested in collaborating with heterogeneous talents.
“Prada has always been synonymous with striving for the pursuit of ground-breaking design and creativity, championing innovation, and developing extraordinary talent. This initiative gives these singular creatives, masters in their individual fields, the tools to achieve their full potential, and their work the platform it deserves.”
Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada Group Marketing Director & Head of Corporate Social Responsibility
On April 5, 2022, Theaster Gates and Prada Group announced the inaugural cohort of the Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab. Fourteen international talents have been selected by a committee of design industry leaders, including Prada S.p.A. Co-CEO and Prada Co-Creative Director Miuccia Prada, writer and director Ava DuVernay, the late designer Virgil Abloh, architect Sir David Adjaye, and other dignitaries.
The awardees were selected through an extensive review process, having demonstrated extraordinary creative potential in their respective practices.
“For too long, there has been an evident pipeline and visibility barrier for designers of color working across the creative industries, and the Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab not only challenges the notion that Black talent is hard to identify, but also serves as an inescapable answer to it. I’m so proud of this cohort, and it is a tremendous honor to be able to celebrate, support, and amplify the work of these designers working to enrich our collective understanding of and interactions with design. I’m grateful for Prada’s belief and investment in this program, and I’m thankful for the nominators and selection committee for helping us identify this impressive group.”
Theaster Gates, artist and Chairman of Prada Group’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council
On the occasion of the Prada Men's SS23 Fashion Show, the Prada Group hosted in Milan Theaster Gates and the awardees of the Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab for a two-day retreat with the Prada team filled with dedicated meetings, presentations, and collaborative activities.
In early March, the awardees gathered on Chicago’s South Side to get to know one another, share reflections on their work, discuss the current challenges within the design industries, and explore opportunities for collaboration. This gathering marked the first of three retreats that will take place during the three years’ program.
The inaugural cohort was presented during a public conversation at the presence Pamela Culpepper - newly elected to the Prada S.p.A. Board of Directors and member of the Prada S.p.A. Sustainability Committee - between Theaster Gates, writer, curator, and activist Kimberly Drew, Professor Sarah Lewis and Dr. Louise Bernard, founding director of the Obama Presidential Center’s museum, at the Rebuild Foundation’s Stony Island Arts Bank on Chicago’s South Side.