Words by Eddie STATS Houghton, via Cutlass & Cane
David Belle’s Naturally Haiti is a sort of impressionistic documentary short following Donna Karan as she works with Haitian artisans on a line of homewares and accessories that reflect African inspiration, local Caribbean crafts and a modern approach to objects like tobacco-leaf vases, sculpted horn bowls and utensils and multi-colored beads of recycled paper. The pieces are currently available only in the Urban Zen stores in Greenwich Village and Sag Harbor and proceeds go directly to the Urban Zen Foundation (you can find out more about their stated missions: “Well-Being, Preserving Cultures, Empowering Children” here). Although the film–which is as beautiful as the objects manufactured in front of the lens–centers on the housewares, there is also a collection of jewelry (at bottom) from French/Hispanic/Apache designer Isabel Encinias, who has “been traveling regularly with Donna Karan to Haiti with the objective of developing artisan commerce sustainability projects.”
Those of us who pay close attention to the first world’s interaction with the Caribbean may be skeptical about asking retail choices to do the job of diplomats and NGOs–but when you check it deeply, it makes a hell of a lot more sense than pitting consumer culture and sustainable development against each other. Watch the film below to let the undeniable object-quality of these designs to seduce you, find store locations here and donate to Urban Zen here.