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For over 20 years, Sid Lee Collective has been a creative incubator that helps fund, produce and exhibit the passion projects of Sid Lee employees and their collaborators. No matter the day job, we believe that everyone benefits when we empower people to create what matters. 

 

Sid Lee Collective Blog is devoted to sharing our collaborations, creative projects, interesting profiles and invitations to exclusive events. Content and creative direction comes from the Sid Lee offices in Montreal, Toronto, Paris, LA and NYC.

 

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Sid Lee Collective is also an active member of C2 Montréal, the largest innovation conference in the world.

Profiles
Refuge artist profile: SLOW FACTORY
March 16, 2017
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Celine Samaan of Slow Factory spoke with us about how she created a label that’s focused on conscientious work around the socio-political atmosphere as well as the environment. Her fashion activism is beautiful on display, and even more powerful in meaning. Read about how she incorporated her work in the project, Refuge.

Céline Semaan Vernon is a Lebanese-Canadian designer, activist, teacher, and entrepreneur. Two common themes underpin her diverse work: the power of remixing, collage, and juxtaposition in creating new aesthetics and narratives; and the need to humanize and embed our current world with a deep sense of empathy. Vernon founded Slow Factory out of her design consultancy, and the fashion firm has grown to be world-renowned for high-quality silks printed with satellite images from NASA. This physical juxtaposition of old-world luxury with new technology and space exploration delivers a message of meaning and activism, where each collection tells a greater story about human rights and environmental awareness, in partnership with non-governmental organizations.

Vernon’s collections have supported the efforts of the World Wildlife Fund, UNICEF, and ANERA. Previously she worked as a user-experience designer for HUGE Inc., General Assembly, and Condé Nast among others, and has recently joined the board of directors of AIGA New York. She was born in Beirut, grew up in Montreal, studied in Paris and Montreal, and is now based in Brooklyn, New York. Her background is in art, technology, and information design, and her mission is centered on responsible design, human rights, and open data. 

Q:

How do you describe yourself and the work that you do?

A:

I am an artist, designer and activist. My work uses fashion as a medium for social and environmental change. My label is called Slow Factory, we started by working with NASA and archive their images on silk to wrap people with the universe and the Earth so they stop killing each other.

Q:

What are you exhibiting at this show? What are you trying to accomplish with it?

A:

I am exhibiting a commission that I did for Design & Flow called Exodus as well as a key necklace molded from the key of my home in Lebanon in homage to the refugee tradition of wearing your home key around your neck as a symbol of hope. The Exodus scarf is an image of Middle-East North Africa and Europe at night as seen from space, overlaid with open data from UNHCR of the refugee flow to Europe. What I hope to accomplish with this piece is to give people a sense of scale.

Q:

For you, how is creativity used as a weapon to protect civil liberties?

A:

I wouldn't use the word weapon. I would use the word tool rather. A weapon destroys and tools repair and fix things. I think creativity is a coping mechanism, often times in societies that have been through a lot of trauma, creativity is used to create totems and meaningful objects as a catalysis of a difficult reality. Creativity opens doors to healing. 

Q:

How do you see your role as an artist in these increasingly fucked up times?

A:

It isn't increasing as much as we are just more connected with each other so we are exposed to drama and trauma through the news and social media. In fact, research shows that we are living in a very prosperous time in comparison with our past, we are healthier, we live longer, progress moves us forward. That being said, we are living the biggest humanitarian crisis since WWII: the refugee crisis I believe is intimately tied to Global Climate Change: oil, drought, lack of resources has contributed to political unrest. I think artists live at the edge of our illusions and belief systems, they witness life and translate it back to the masses. The role of the artist is to give a sense of scale, and create universal symbols that connects us all with our human experience.

Q:

Who are you looking to these days for inspiration?

A:

Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, inspires me to follow my own voice, it is very liberating.

 
Written by Diane Paik

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