Crate & Barrel’s New Designers: Public School Students from Philly

When my niece got married several years ago, I learned that Crate & Barrel was one of her go-to stores. Now, she may be purchasing items from the home décor retailer that were designed by public school youngsters in Philadelphia and its environs.

Education Week (EW) reports that fifth through ninth graders, most of them African American if the photo in the article is truly representative, are working with a local nonprofit, Fresh Artists, to create a new bedding line: the Artistic Bedding Collection by Fresh Artists for Crate & Barrel.

The designs in the photo look truly high-end.

“We want to show kids that art can turn into a job,” Barbara Chandler Allen, Fresh Artists founder, is quoted as saying in the piece.

Student-designed bedding Image: crateandbarrel.com)

The students hail from schools whose funding has been cut significantly, EW reports. “It is estimated that Fresh Artists has generated enough money to supply more than 300,000 children in the area with a mix of art supplies and expanded art programming,” the piece says, indicating that the nonprofit’s efforts are being rewarded.

Read more about this program which connects youngsters with professional designers, exposing them to creative careers, in the excerpt below:

Most kids’ grade-school art projects get thrown onto their parents’ refrigerator (and often later into the trash). For a group of lucky 5th through 9th graders, their hand-drawn designs are landing a spot in the “home” section of Crate & Barrel.

The local nonprofit Fresh Artists has teamed up with the national retail store to create a line of quilts, shams, sheets, and pillows, all designed by students from Philadelphia, Camden, and Norristown schools struggling with massive financial cuts. Called the Artistic Bedding Collection by Fresh Artists for Crate & Barrel, the line is set to officially launch Monday.

“We want to show kids that art can turn into a job,” says Barbara Chandler Allen, founder of Fresh Artists. “We’re giving them an insight into what jobs look like in the creative economy.”

For the last 10 years, Fresh Artists has worked with low-income schools in the Philadelphia area to empower children to become artists and to enhance the quality of art-making curricula. As part of the nonprofit’s program, high-quality reproductions of students’ artwork are given to corporate and individual donors in exchange for financial contributions, which have benefited public schools throughout the region.

(Image: freshartists.org)

It is estimated that Fresh Artists has generated enough money to supply more than 300,000 children in the area with a mix of art supplies and expanded art programming.

The Crate & Barrel collaboration was drawn from Fresh Artists’ Design Camp, an initiative that connects youth with professional designers to create products that could potentially go to market. Past corporate collaborations have included companies like Knoll Furniture and DENY Designs.

“The whole point is that we provide the kids with a real-life experience,” says Allen. “They get a design director, they brainstorm and lay the project out, and do market research before coming out at the other end with a product.”

Read more at EW.

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