Chicago jewelry designer Catherine Sarr selected for Innovative Design Lab – JCK

How to bring designers of color working in creative industries such as jewelry, art, dance, technology, cuisine and architecture and find a way to support them, while challenging them to go to the beyond what they thought they could accomplish with their work? The answer: you create something like Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab.

Jewelry designer and Almasika founder Catherine Sarre is part of the inaugural cohort of the Experimental Design Lab, which came together thanks to an internationally renowned artist Theater doors and influential design experts from the Prada Group. The three-year program gives the Chicago-based jeweler and her fellow artists access to new design peers, mentors and influences to grow their ideas and businesses.

Sarr says she is honored to be selected for this one-of-a-kind design lab, especially since she is the sole jewelry designer in the group.

Tsavorite Earrings
Catherine Sarr designed the Vici Charm Tsavorite Earrings, from his Wisdom collection, to represent the third part of the phrase “I came, I saw, I conquered”. They are 18k yellow gold and round tsavorite garnet; $13,500.

“I believe that continuous training and exchanges are essential in any field. This program is crucial because they wanted it to be artist-led and artist-occupied, allowing us to bring new perspectives from once-adjacent creative industries and expand what it means to be a designer,” says Sarr. .

“This initiative gives the cohort, the masters in our individual fields, the tools to realize our full potential, and our work the platform it deserves.”

Sarr and his cohort will receive financial support to develop new projects, work on existing creative projects, and foster relationships with each other and with other design leaders. the Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab is based in Chicago, but it will hold annual get-togethers in New York and Los Angeles for attendees to “connect, reunite and collaborate” with their mentors and each other, organizers said.

Gates, who helped develop the program, is also chairman of the Prada Group’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board.

Wisdom Cuff
the Wisdom Cuff is Sarr’s interpretation of a 15th-century bronze crown and royal gold discs. It features 18k gold and tsavorite; $24,000.

“For too long there has been an obvious pipeline and visibility barrier for color designers working in the creative industries, and the Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab not only challenges the idea that black talent is hard to identify, but also serves as a go-to response,” Gates said in a statement.

“I’m so proud of this cohort, and it’s a tremendous honor to be able to celebrate, support and amplify the work of these designers working to enrich our collective understanding and interactions with design,” added Gates.

More than 200 creatives have been nominated for the design lab by creative industries luminaries, including Prada co-creative director Miuccia Prada, filmmaker Ava Duvernay, fashion designer Virgil Abloh, architect Sir David Adjaye and d other dignitaries. From there, the 14 winners of the inaugural cohort were selected through an extensive review process, based on their extraordinary creative potential in their respective practices.

Another participant in this cohort may be a familiar face: chef Damarr Brown, the Chicago chef at restaurant Virtue, who also participates in the Houston-based edition of Excellent chef.

Black gold dangling earrings
by Sarr Le Cauri Endiamante earrings reinvent the cowrie as a natural treasure rich in symbolism in 18 carat gold, black rhodium and white diamonds; $14,950.

“I was surprised and proud to be part of this extraordinary cohort of creatives who care deeply about the impact of their practices,” says Sarr. “Prada and Theaster Gates have always been synonymous with groundbreaking design and championing innovation. I cannot imagine better mentors or peers to develop my practice alongside.

Sarr says she enters the cohort with an open mind and heart for what she expects to learn throughout the three-year opportunity.

“The experimental design lab is a chance to exchange ideas and think outside of my industry,” says Sarr. “My designs are rooted in symbolism that transcends culture and connects people who share an appreciation for creativity, craftsmanship and form.

“One of the objectives of the experimental laboratory is to exchange with other creative people and to amplify everyone’s practices,” she adds. “I’m the only jeweler, but I can’t wait to imagine what a collaboration with a chef, a renowned furniture designer, an architect or an aquaculturist might look like.”

Above: Catherine Sarr is the only jeweler to be selected for the inaugural cohort of the Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab, which aims to support color designers and provide them with new ideas, friendships and mentorships. (All photos courtesy of Catherine Sarr)

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Rozella J. Cook