First impressions can be deceiving. Miuccia Prada first met Gates at the Ronnie Scotts Theater, a jazz club in London, where Gates was performing on stage with his band The Black Monks. “I thought, ‘Oh my God! He looks so intimidating and unattainable,'” said Miu Miu, CEO and creative director of Italian fashion house Prada. A multi-disciplinary artist whose oeuvre includes sculpture, performance, installation, spatial concepts and landscaping, Gates laughs at the memory: “I lost my voice when we were rehearsing so much. I focused on making sure the notes that came out were good.”
In the year It was 2012 and Gates opened his first European solo show at the Arts Club. The exhibition included works from him. In the event of competition violence Series – discontinued fire hoses They served as symbols for the civil rights demonstrations in Chicago in 1968, when pipes were used for crowd control.
Ten years later, Prada and Gates are best friends and collaborators – in the summer they celebrated the first European meeting for Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab: funded by the Prada Group with the Gates Reconstruction Foundation. The Lab is a three-year program that aims to support and highlight the work of artists and color designers, investing in their development and exposing them to organizations interested in working with diverse talent, including the Prada brand itself.
Both dressed in Prada’s signature Celeste blue, they sit at Ristorante Torre at the Fondazione Prada in Milan and the city’s wide-eyed couple engage in a passionate conversation about the role of art in society, the joy of hard work, and their efforts to fight social injustice and racism. . In the year Gates, who was invited by Prada to chair the Prada Group’s newly formed Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council in 2019, said, “There are moments that make us say: Maybe we can do more.” Prada nodded in agreement. “Money and scholarships are not enough. I said: Why don’t we do something that gives more opportunities? That gives more opportunities for black people, for women, to do something meaningful — and so the theater invented Experimental Design Lab,” she says.
Together, they are working hard to create a platform that puts real meat on the bones of Prada Group’s inclusivity initiative. “I’d rather do nothing than make a statement to show that we’re good,” Prada enthuses. Gates agrees. “It’s not just about dealing with racism, it’s about understanding that beautiful things – intelligence, genius, talent and talent – can come from all over the world,” he added. To this end, those who join the Experimental Design Lab will benefit from the fashion icon and artist’s professional, industry and creative networks. In turn, the Prada team benefits from being open to different professionals and different perspectives.
In the first group there are 14 designers and artists, who were invited to Milan for two days full of presentations, activities and meetings. For many it was their first trip to Italy and their first time with Muccia. One of the highlights was Prada and Raf Simons, who pushed the boundaries of fashion in a collection that explored menswear archetypes – from cowboy boots to trench coats and jeans – where actors like Jeff were given front-row seats to the menswear catwalk show. Goldblum, Damson Idris, and Rami Malek.
The group (most of whom live in the US) were selected from 200 nominees by a panel that included the late Virgil Abloh, author and filmmaker Ava DuVernay and architect David Adjaye. The collective spans a wide range of disciplines and ages: from product designer Norman Tege and hydroponics expert Yemi Amu to architect Maya Bird-Murphy, dancer/choreographer Kyle Abraham and Kentura Davis, visual artist. In the fashion camp, Tolu Coker, Kathryn Sarr and shoe designer Kendall Reynolds all develop their own brands.
“Muccia wasn’t just concerned with fashion diversity,” Gates said. “I don’t care what the form or the artistic intervention is, as long as it’s about thinking,” she said. I try to design a program that makes sense and creates a team that benefits from resources, platforms and familiarity – that’s where good things can happen.
“There are few people like theater. He’s a great artist, but he cares about people in everything he does,” says Prada of Gates’ talent and sense of civic commitment. He admires Prada as someone who fundamentally changed the way we think about dressing and the art of fashion.
“My interest in art is based on political interest as I come from a political background. [Prada has a PhD in political science from the University of Milan]. So I’m glad to find someone who supports this. An institution can show beautiful art, but I try to do one more thing. Art is always political,” said Prada, who is chief curator of the Fondazione Prada and co-president with her husband, Patrizio Bertelli. “Theater creates art that pushes other points of view, raises issues, and encourages awareness of what’s happening right now — and I’m fixated on that.”
The double act has developed a strong bond over the past decade, which was sparked when the Fondazione Prada invited Gates to curate the exhibition. True value, exploring labor economies using recycled materials. Gates, now 49, the son of a roofer who lived on Chicago’s West Side, is a firm believer in hard work and honesty. To help promote Gates’s show, Prada introduced him to an octogenarian hardware store owner in Milan who served rations from the store during the post-war period.
“To me, an artist can choose to solve any problem. Your problem may be the choice of red paint, but there are other problems you can solve, like ‘I wish more people had housing in my neighborhood.’ I invest in beautiful forms, but not purposefully beautiful forms,” adds Gates, who designed the Serpentine Pavilion 2022 as a monument. Black Chapel. The Black Monks Band will perform at this venue in October. Gates is preparing to open a solo exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art in New York. Young masters and their followers A tribute to the radical thinkers who shaped his hometown of Chicago – and America as a whole.
Experimental design laboratory developed A mission to put inclusion at the heart of innovation. “Race and inclusion are my primary work, but I’m committed to the bigger picture. For example, how do you make diversity important but also care about water and our food? I start with equity and inclusion, and I hope to connect that with environmental concern. I think black artists—color designers “We need to know not only black art; we need to know all art, design and fashion,” Gates explains.
While Prada used her fashion skills to create a unique vision for her family’s luggage brand, Gates’ ambitions and skills came from working as a senior transit art planner for the Chicago Transit Authority. There, he was in charge of a project that involved the commissioning and collection of $70 million worth of works of art in the city network. What connects him and Prada is a sense of civic duty and a belief in the power of creative integration to shape culture.
When Gates established himself as an artist, he began investing in the rehabilitation of 36 dilapidated and derelict buildings on Chicago’s South Side. “The hope is to eventually create a cultural neighborhood-center,” said Gates of the property. , some of which work as the ReBuild Foundation. The organization is funded by its own funds, private donations and public fundraising. “What I’ve learned from being an artist is not to be too smart – to learn in public. Let people see it happen over time so they know how hard it is. We try to keep it raw, to continue learning. I am not a professional developer and the architecture is homemade, but this has its own charm,” he explains. Likewise, the experimental nature of Fondazione Prada opens a window into the brand and its ethos at a time when luxury houses seem to operate behind closed doors. “We don’t have donors,” Prada smiles. I say we should be happy to have money in the purse to remain independent – that way we are privileged.
Midsummer, sipping on margaritas, the duo share a problem that goes beyond language. They were thrilled to be in each other’s company again. “I want to piss you off in the office and see what happens in a day,” Gates says brightly. Prada will let you down gently. “I think you’ll be surprised. I don’t do anything that designers normally do – like draw or make mannequins – I just sit and think!”
The couple meet regularly. “I feel like Miuccia is one of the few people I can call. She is someone who works harder than me – and I need her input. She helps me set the bar higher,” Gates said of his commitment to running a company. But experimental design is not a project that lab pairs should do; Instead, they are forced to take action and help others. “We are the son of a roofer, the daughter of a suitcase maker. Work is built into us – and the beautiful thing about work is that if something isn’t working, you work to make it work,” says Gates. Prada smiled in agreement. “Lucky people love their work. It’s my tool, and I want to use it as much as I can.