rihanna teams with the new school's parsons school of design, donna karan's urban zen, and haitian artisans to design a collection benefitting Haiti and the singer's clara lionel foundation

Parsons student designers will work with Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation and Karan’s Urban Zen at the D.O.T center (Design, Organization and Training) in Haiti on a new merchandise collection

Parsons students chosen to participate in the project will be announced by Karan and Rihanna who will be honored at the Parsons Benefit on May 22 in New York City

Parsons design students will collaborate with local artisans at the Design, Organization, Training (D.O.T) Center, an artisan vocational training center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

NEW YORK, May 5, 2017 – Rihanna has announced that she will work with The New School’s Parsons School of Design, one the world’s leading art and design schools, Donna Karan and her Urban Zen Foundation, and Haitian artisans to develop a merchandise line for the singer’s Clara Lionel Foundation in Haiti this summer.

Parsons design students will collaborate with local artisans at the Design, Organization, Training (D.O.T) Center, an artisan vocational training center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Co-founded by Karan, Parsons, and designer Paula Coles, the D.O.T Center is an incubator for Haiti’s artisan community, fostering innovation, providing resources and materials, and enabling artisans to scale their designs while preserving the wisdom and integrity of their unique culture.

The partnership — emerging from a relationship between Urban Zen Foundation and Clara Lionel Foundation, which have worked together on socially engaged projects in Haiti — embodies the collective mission of both organizations and Parsons to positively transform people’s lives.

“We are ecstatic that our students will have the opportunity to work with and develop a merchandise line for Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, that, like Parsons, shares a strong commitment to creating positive social change,” says Alison Mears, director of the Healthy Materials Lab at Parsons who played an integral role in launching D.O.T. “Through this partnership with Donna Karan and Urban Zen, students will live Parsons’ mission, taking a multidisciplinary collaborative approach and utilizing local sustainable practices and healthier materials to create products that benefit Haiti and the Clara Lionel Foundation.”

Students will travel to and work in Haiti through Parsons Design Fellowship, a competitive program launched by Karan's Urban Zen in 2015. Now in its third year, the program sends three Parsons students to Haiti for six to eight weeks beginning in early June.

Rihanna, who will be honored at Parsons Benefit, will announce the winners of the fellowship along with Karan at the event on May 22 in New York City. Karan was honored at the Benefit, a fundraiser for scholarships for Parsons students, last year.

Since its founding in 2015, the D.O.T Center has developed a training plan for educating local artisans — elevating local production practices, and helping artisans to develop their design expertise and create new products for market, as well as offering business services to a new generation of artisans. Parsons, through its Healthy Materials Lab, has advocated for the use of sustainable and local materials at the D.O.T Center.

The Urban Zen Foundation, founded by Donna Karan, creates, connects, and collaborates to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of preservation of cultures, well being, and education. Visit urbanzen.org.

The Clara Lionel Foundation, founded in 2012 by Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty, supports and funds groundbreaking and effective education, health and emergency response programs around the world. With the voices of Rihanna and her fans, CLF also engages in global advocacy with the goal of improving the quality of life for young people everywhere. Visit claralionelfoundation.org and follow @ClaraLionelFdn.

The D.O.T Center is an innovative artisan training center based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti launched by Donna Karan’s Urban Zen, local Haitian designer Paula Coles, and The New School’s Parsons School of Design. Funded by an initial grant given by Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation, the center works to help artisans preserve the wisdom of Haiti's culture, create better design, innovate, and scale. Visit urbanzen.org/our-initiatives/d-o-t/.

Parsons School of Design at The New School, founded in 1896, is one of the leading institutions for art and design education in the world. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of art and design disciplines, as well as online courses, degree and certificate programs. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century. Visit newschool.edu/parsons/.


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Media Contacts:

Scott Gargan,
The New School
212-229-5667 x 3794

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