New York City
- Iconic in the world of women's fashion and a very familiar presence in the Hamptons, Donna Karan
unveiled the first Urban Zen
furniture line at a press only reception at her studio on Greenwich Street in the West Village.
Donna Karan has put her own artistic talent and creativity where her heart rests, in preserving the culture and artistry of ancient nations and peoples in the emerging world.
In the airy loft studio and outdoor roof garden Karan chatted with industry reporters and invited guests amid gorgeous pieces in the exquisitely decorated space that served as a showcase for her new furniture and home goods collection. The building at 711 Greenwich Street also serves as the location for her New York Fashion Week catwalk shows and is next door to her NYC Urban Zen retail location at 705 Greenwich Street.
Explaining the line Karan told me, "It is all made in Bali and it was designed as a personal project that I have had for myself and my home. Everyone who came to my home in the Hamptons kept saying, 'I want your furniture.' So I said, 'Okay, we can make this happen.' Now we are launching a furniture collection that can be purchased by anyone. It is made to order with individual finishes, you can have them in an ebony color or bleached or natural for example. They are all teak, all handmade and one of a kind, made to measure."
I asked Karan what the wait time was for the pieces, "I have a limited amount of stock that I will hold through the summer. Then it is about three months." I noted that the furniture had clean, strong and minimalist design features to them, "My whole idea is that if you can't sleep in it, if you can't live in it and have fun in it, why have it?"
A new clothing line complimented the furniture launch.
The pieces were complimented by models donning some of Karan's new clothing designs that evoke a developing world perspective of traditional drape construction with a sophisticated fold and sexy detailed elements that make them both comfortable and quintessentially
DK. The clothes, as well as the furniture, will be available in both her retail stores and online.
The Urban Zen Foundation is Karan's philanthropic passion which she explained to me as, "It is philanthropy and commerce basically with a cultural point of view. Our three main missions are healthcare, education and preservation of culture. I think that the Balinese model to me is the absolutely appropriate model to launch because that is what Urban Zen is all about. It is about creating a community of creativity that also produces product so that they don't leave their culture."
Urban Zen has put the events in Haiti at the forefront of recent efforts and Karan went on to note, "I think that the Bali model will work for Haiti. If you think of the Hamptons, for example, you have an artistic community in the Hamptons that people have grasped. If you think of that Balinese model, where they really come from their soul and their spirit and they create product. I see that happening throughout the world. What is happening in Haiti right now for me is the preservation of culture; it is probably the most important aspect. Use their creativity for their sustainability."
Donna Karan's new clothing designs evoke a developing world perspective of traditional drape construction with a sophisticated fold and sexy detailed elements that make them both comfortable and quintessentially DK.
Karan's passion for cultural preservation is nothing short of palpable, "If you preserve the culture and the wisdom - that is what Urban Zen sustainability is all about. You look at these clothes and the pieces of furniture; there is a soul behind it. The effort is not to eradicate our cultural past, which is at such risk right now, but celebrate the individual cultures and see what it is in those cultures that can take us into the future."
Karan has put her own artistic talent and creativity where her heart rests, in preserving the culture and artistry of ancient nations and peoples in the emerging world. She has also put her money where her mouth is, as 10 percent of Urban Zen store sales go to the Urban Zen Foundation, which then distributes the money to the projects with the greatest immediate need. Her Greenwich Street studios will also be hosting a major Haiti event on June 24 through June 26 that Karan hopes to bring to the Hamptons.
Donna Karan's new furniture is breathtaking in its clean, open simplicity and design. The woods are rich in their grains and hues, the craftsmanship is extraordinary. The fact that these designs directly impact the health, education and welfare of cultures so desperately in need of support make them more than art, they are artistic altruism.
For more information on the Urban Zen Foundation go to www.urbanzen.org
The interior of DK's Urban Zen retail store at 705 Greenwich Street in the West Village.
Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com