(L-R) Karim Rashid, Prabal Gurung, Joe Zee, Karen Elson, Paul Haggis, Stacy Engman; photo credit Benjamin Lozovsky BFA NYC
Looking out into the audience… ; photo credit Benjamin Lozovsky BFA NYCCoincidentally, the majority of the panelists are immigrants and circumstance drew all six innovators to the center of chaos and creativity a.k.a the 'island of misfits' as described by Prabal Gurung. So what makes New York, New York? For Paul Haggis, NYC is a place where the touch of strangers makes for pleasantries in a solitary situation. He notes that "No matter what happens, no matter how many corporate stores are on every corner... the ideas are here, the vibrance is here." Prabal Gurung has found it to be a place to belong, where "I'm ok just being myself and that's what New York City does." Karen Elson agrees saying, "New York is a tastemaker.… New York has become a debate between creativity and success….It's the place where everything happens. New York is always the first step." Joe Zee likens NY to Hong Kong, where the large concentration of people in a small geography generates a rousing energy.
The audience--there I am!, photo provided by Liberatum - credit Benjamin Lozovsky BFA NYC
As with most places, New York has evolved since the days of a dangerous downtown and an age where success has typically been associated with geography. Is NYC still THE place to be? According to Karim Rashid, "There was a time in history, when you had to be in a certain place if you were creative...but all of a sudden, when I look back...I realize now that you're greater when you have something to contribute to the world. You don't need to really anywhere, you can be everywhere…" And to that end, Rashid names Berlin as today's artistic epicenter and declares "I'm ready to move. I want to go to a planet."
Fine art curator Stacy Engman explains, "I'm going to call it a maturity curve-what I see in terms of emerging art. I think that in the peripheral a reals like Brooklyn, Long Island and Queens, you see a lot of creative genius coming out of those areas and the passion that is driving them is not at all monetary oriented at the true core. I think there's a romance -- that artists, no matter where you are from in the word--can come to a city like New York and they can be that."
Joe Zee (middle) introduces Prabal Gurung and Karen Elson
Good Times!; photo provided by Liberatum - credit Benjamin Lozovsky BFA NYC
Group Shot; photo provided by Liberatum - credit Benjamin Lozovsky BFA NYC