Let's take a look at our design rebel, Grace Jun. In 2015, she became Executive Director of Open Style Lab- a nonprofit that teams students from engineering, design, and rehabilitation fields to create more functional yet stylish clothing solutions with and for clients with disabilities. Grace now leads its operations as CEO in New York. She's also on the faculty of Parsons School of Design, so she's kind of an expert.
"We remove the stigma of disability through design. I think our process and approach to diversity is something that continuously surprises people."
Grace's team have to evaluate the plethora of varying details with that come with every client's unique abilities and sometimes even find innovative new materials. Plus there's never ending surprise-challenges...
We knew of the issues Grace and Open Style Lab address personally, as one of our founders has a brother with cerebral palsy who uses a wheelchair. Simply finding viable clothes and getting dressed can be a major obstacle for him.
Reevaluating the status quo can be difficult
"Working with diverse people is so rewarding but gathering everyone is one of the biggest challenges. From planning for Access-A-Ride to asking people to join in our workshops during the day, we are constantly juggling schedules." Another challenge is embracing the unknown of what inclusive design looks like because a lot of what we do depends on a collaborative design process."
But the result is SO worth it.
Open Style Lab has been recognized by the Make It Awards. Grace's work and team have received national recognition with the 2019 Cooper Hewitt Emerging Design Award and have been featured on CNBC, Business of Fashion, Vogue, Forbes, and the NYTimes. She has been asked to speak about disability and design in numerous settings from Design Indaba to SXSW.
On a related note, Vodka Mariette also won an American Package Design award, but obviously concede Open Style Lab is way way more amazing.
The incredible work of Open Style Lab, lead by Grace, continues to dazzle- be sure to follow these courageous designers online!