February 28, 2011
Today, a very nice European man came up to me today and gave me a goody bag with some info on Donna Karan’s Urban Zen pop-up store on Santa Monica Blvd. I knew nothing about Urban Zen, so I checked out the catalogs in the bag. I was excited to learn Urban Zen offers gorgeous hand-crafted furniture-made in Bali by local artisans :
10 percent of sales benefit Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation, which works to preserve culture and empower children internationally. According to the company’s website:
Urban Zen is a philosophy of living. It’s also a unique marriage of commerce, culture community and compassion. We have one rule for what we offer at Urban Zen: it has to have soul and expression. We travel the world, looking for global artisans we can support and showcase, helping them sustain their traditions.
After browsing the catalogs (there was an apparel one, as well), I looked deeper in the bag. There was a stone heart, and an some info on the Million Hearts for Haiti Campaign.
First I looked to see where the heart came from. It’s from a group called the Hand/Eye Fund, an organization that Helps Haitian artisans and artists recover from the life-challenging loss of shelter, equipment, workshops, and income.
These hearts are actually for sale on the Hand/Eye Fund website.
“Help support artisans in Haiti with this beautiful set of multi-colored river stone hearts. Stone carving became a part of the Haitian craft scene in the 1950s, and the grey stone of Leogane provides an excellent starting point for many Haitian sculptors. Among the most popular motifs is the simple heart, the symbol of love and caring. Our river stone hearts are sold as a set of one large 3″, one medium 2.5″ and one small 2″ heart in white, brown and grey earth tones. Size, color and shapes will vary as each hand-carved heart is unique. Imported by Tesoros Trading Company, proceeds from the sale of these hearts benefit the HAND/EYE Artisan Grants Fund for Haiti, helping artisans in Haiti rebuild their workshops, community and lives.$20.
I love, love, love this idea…but it gets better. The Million Hearts for Haiti project takes it a step further:“These hand-carved hearts from Haiti are a blank canvas for your expression. They also represent a link between Haitian artisans and the distant markets they must reach to earn a living…..We need your help to support the culture of Haiti and spread the word to all our communities. There are several ways you can connect with us and become involved…including an art installation in NYC.”
From the website:
A COLLABORATION OF ARTISTS
We are proud and excited to join the Million Hearts for Haiti campaign, and are thrilled to tell you about the unique Urban Zen spin we’re putting on this. Not only do we want you to join the campaign, we want you to use it as an opportunity to showcase your own creative expression.
The plan is simple:
- Purchase your heart
- Design your heart with your arsenal of art supplies and ingenious creativity
- Send us a picture of you and your heart along with a note about the inspiration behind your design
This is a wonderful way for you to give a little bit of your love to Haiti and we are thrilled to be able to showcase you as the compassionate artist that you are. Once we get your photo and inspiration note, we’ll make sure to include you on our Million Hearts for Haiti photo wall (coming soon).
The pamphlet I received instructs the artist to send the actual heart to the Urban Zen New York store. So I don’t know if they just want a photo- or the actual stone. I’ll email Urban Zen tonight and post their answer.
Follow Urban Zen @urban_zen and buy some hand-carved stones at the hand/eye fund’s store 12 Small Things. It’s a great family project–It’s better than Color Me Mine—It’s Hearts for Haiti.
*Images from Urban Zen, Hand/Eye Fund, and me.
* Andre Charles, Ben Stiller, Charlize Theron, Donna Karan, Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Narciso Rodriguez, Parsons The New School For Design- faculty and students, Ralph Lauren, Susan Sarandon, Tory Burch, and more have already designed hearts for Haiti.