Jan Kath and Avenues the World School Launch Design Project

Label STEP Licensed Partner Jan Kath New York launches a project bringing together children from the U.S. and Nepal. The carpets created in this project bear witness to the children’s creativity and are hand knotted under certified fair trade conditions in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Crossroads & Avenues is the brainchild of Kyle Clarkson, managing partner and designer at Jan Kath-New York, who has hosted children from Avenues: The World School of New York City for many years. During these class visits, the children learned about the art of hand knotted carpets and were given the freedom to imagine and create their own carpet design. 

“The kids have had such fun creating their own designs that I was inspired to take it to the next level and produce a few of their designs at our factory in Nepal.” says Mr. Clarkson. Within a few weeks, Crossroads & Avenues quickly developed from a small New York project into a creative collaboration between the children of Avenues: The World School of New York City and the Kesang Primary School of Kathmandu. 

This global design project brings together the creativity of over one hundred fifty children from opposite sides of the world in order to explore their cultural views and interpretations of design as seen through their eyes. 

The program focuses on children between ages seven and eight years old. Each school submitted  eight original carpet designs, using only basic drawing materials such as crayons, colored pencils and markers. The children were only given a little guidance by their teachers to create their own designs. Once all submissions were collected, Kyle & Kath-Jan Kath Design take these drawings and transform them into 5 foot diameter hand-knotted carpets at their factory in Nepal. The carpets from both schools will be brought together at the Jan Kath showroom in New York for exhibition and silent auction on June 7th, 2018. The proceeds from the event will go directly to benefit the Kesang Primary School in Kathmandu. 

Learning about the design process is not the only goal in the Crossroads & Avenues project. The donation of ten new computers by Kyle & Kath to Kesang Primary enabled the creation of an open communication between the children of both schools via video chat and pen-pal systems. This allows the children to explore not only their designs but help to understand life and culture between New York City and Kathmandu. 

To document the creative process of the project, Prasanna Bajracharya, one of Nepal’s leading photographers is documenting this design journey, in order to show the journey of how these children’s drawings are transformed from conception into actual carpets, opening a door into the fascinating and creative world of carpet making. 

The Kesang Primary School is based in one of the original Tibetan neighborhoods established over fifty-five years ago by King Birendra as a refugee camp for those fleeing from Tibet. 

With the help of the Dalai Lama, it was also one of the first neighborhoods in Kathmandu to establish a carpet factory. It was the Dalai Lama and these first refugees that brought the carpet making industry to Nepal as it did not historically exist in Nepalese culture. Due to both the necessity and ingenuity, in just sixty years, Nepal is now one of the largest producers of carpets in the world. 

As a Label STEP Licensed Partner, Jan Kath commits to fair trade conditions in the production of all its rugs. In 2017, STEP staff and social workers visited the company’s production sites in Kathmandu almost every day (272 visits)—not only to independently verify compliance with STEP’s industry-leading fair trade standards but also to actively support weavers by constantly improving their working and living conditions.  

We invite you to follow the creative process unfold on a weekly basis on Instagram @crossroadsandavenues.

For more information on the Crossroads & Avenues project, please contact Jan Kath New York directly at info@nyc.jan-kath.com

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