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John McAslan + Partners host Discover Haiti exhibition until August 15

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Prime Minister of Haiti and fashion designer Donna Karan champion Haitian arts and handicrafts 


A panel including Haitian prime minister Lauent Lamothe and fashion designer Donna Karan recently launched an exhibition Haitian arts and crafts at John McAslan + Partners’ Camden studio. Discover Haiti includes a range of Haitian ceramics, metalwork and tapestry pieces, as well as models and documention of the Iron Market in Port-au-Prince, refurbished by JM+P in 2011 after the it was devastated by earthquake in 2010.

Fashion designer Donna Karan, Nomad Two Worlds and Russell James have joined forces to create the Urban Zen Foundation, which curated the exhibition and champions collaboration with local craftspeople and artisans.




The Urban Zen foundation aims to create visibility for local artists and craftspeople. Karan argued that international design risks becoming homogenous and that designers should celebrate local crafts. She suggests that Haiti has the potential to become a model of bottom-up design, by preserving local artisan communities (such as metalworkers), while also creating jobs. One out of twenty Haitian nationals is currently out of work.


Prime minister Laurent Lamothe commented that the event was an “exhibition of our vibrant culture, showing what we can do when given the chance”, in light of Haiti’s troubled past decade.


Key buildings with conservation work planned include the Citadel, a UNESCO a world heritage site visited recently by McAslan. Lamothe did note Haiti will be soon be launching international design competitions calling for architects to take on a proportion of the post-disaster rebuilding. There is no desire to imminently rebuild palaces as efforts and financial resources are primarily focussed on relief. Also on display were models of proposed community educational and health facilities by JM + P.


Discover Haiti is on display at 7-9 William Road, London NW1 3ER until August 15.

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