Saturday, August 2, 2014


(L-R) Karim Rashid, Prabal Gurung, Joe Zee, Karen Elson, Paul Haggis, Stacy Engman; photo credit Benjamin Lozovsky BFA NYC

From a creative Mecca to a shopper's paradise, New York City is the birthplace of success, a playground for the daring and the resting place of 8 Million seekers, dreamers and industry leaders. To spotlight NYC and its role in the development of a handful of America's top talent, cultural phenom Liberatum partners with the W Times Square to host Living New York--a candid conversation with model Karen Elson, designer Prabal Gurung, Industrial Designer Karim Rashid, Oscar winning filmmaker Paul Haggis and fine art curator Stacy Engman. Keep reading to see how each of these notable names navigate the grit and glory of NYC...  

Looking out into the audience… ; photo credit Benjamin Lozovsky BFA NYC

Coincidentally, 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

Despite how perspectives on culture, environmental responsibility, success and technology waiver as dialogue volleys back and forth, the fact still remains that these six trendsetters 'made it big' in the Big Apple. Apparently there's still something to be said about the NYC style scene; the invite-only audience is packed with industry power players the likes of Tabitha Simmon, Rishka Bergman and Cynthia Kirchner, among others. Walking away from the evening, I'm ever more curious as to the inspirations, aspirations and realizations from creative individuals that have made NYC their home. What's NYC to YOU? 

Good Times!; photo provided by Liberatum - credit Benjamin Lozovsky BFA NYC

Group Shot; photo provided by Liberatum - credit Benjamin Lozovsky BFA NYC

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