October 2, 2022
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Instagram’s @design Announces The Recipients Of Their Inaugural #BlackDesignVisionaries Grant Program – Forbes

  • November 4, 2021
  • 6 min read
Instagram’s @design Announces The Recipients Of Their Inaugural #BlackDesignVisionaries Grant Program – Forbes

Fashion designer and multidisciplinary artist, Taofeek Abijako, founder of fashion house Head of … [+] State.
Instagram’s official account and digital institution @design is announcing the recipients for its inaugural #BlackDesignVisionaries grant program today, November 3, 2021. In partnership with Brooklyn Museum, the top prize of $100,000 for the Visionary Small Business Grant went to fashion designer and multidisciplinary artist Taofeek Abijako.
#BlackDesignVisionaries is supporting talented young Black designers and creatives who are diligent … [+] in their mission to manifest purposeful brands. By Instagram’s @design.
#BalckDesignVisionaries committee member, art curator, and author, Antwaun Sargent.
Founder of fashion house Head of State, Abijako has been experimenting with fabric, tailoring, body contouring shapes, proportions, and color palette, something he started at the age of 17 years old. Abijako became the youngest designer to show his designs at Men’s New York Fashion Week, and he would debut his first womenswear collection titled ‘Homecoming’ in September of 2021.
Since 2016, Head of State has painted a vision through Abijako’s sartorial language – a homage to his cultural heritage and perseverance. Representing the culture of the post-colonial youth in Africa, of his Nigerian roots, and Black communities around the globe, Head of State critiques Westernization of the world and questions its marginal effects in diverse spaces.
Visionary Small Business $100k Grant is awarded to fashion designer and multidisciplinary artist, … [+] Taofeek Abijako of Hea of State.
The #BlackDesignVisionaries grant committee took notice of Abijako’s expression and use of fashion to address socio-political issues through sartorial commentary. Head of State engages with its audience, encouraging younger generations to support their communities through sustainable efforts. Abijako’s design elements are enthralled with surprising shapes created by a combination tailored cuts and fabric, combined with viral engagements and a vernacular seeded in the representation of his community.
Abijako’s perspective creates the environment and space to empower and celebrate Black creatives, “but also a culture around Black stories,” he says. “This culture results in the creation of an equitable space where diverse ideas are welcome, while also serving as the gateway for us to reimagine the collective vision of what’s possible.”
#BlackDesignVisionaries committee member, fashion designer, and creative director Heron Preston.
Abijako has made efforts to empower communities and help build sustainable futures through education, innovation, and by donating proceeds from his sales to various charitable efforts. The Head of State brand has hosted curbside pop-up shop “Meeting by the River” to amplify businesses and creatives while engaging with members of the local community in South End, Albany, New York.
“Meeting by the River” was also part installation, with decorative 3-dimensional, quadrilateral boxes that explored the “significance of commonality in relation to the tensions of our current socio-political landscape,” the Head of State site describes. The pop-up sold the brand’s designs, but it would also invite younger shoppers to register to vote through the Youth Political Alliance, committed to enacting transformative change and empowering and educating.
#BlackDesignVisionaries committee member, and Harvard professor at the Graduate School of Design … [+] Toni L. Griffin.
The #BlackDesignVisionaries grant program has invested in Black designers and design businesses that explore experimental expressions of black culture and vision through design. The grant program seats notable cultural curators on its committee who have defined the Black experience and culture for the masses. They include art curator and author, Antwaun Sargent, fashion designer, and creative director Heron Preston, former head of design at Instagram Ian Spalter, Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter, known for her costume design for Marvel’s Black Panther film, and Jungalow founder Justina Blakeney, to name a few. 
#BlackDesignVisionaries committee member, Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter.
Committee member and Harvard professor at the Graduate School of Design Toni L. Griffin says, “One of the things we loved about Head of State is how they use design in a number of different ways. There’s the design of artifacts — the fashion and the clothing itself. And there’s the narrative around what the aesthetic of the fashion means. The other is the way in which the artist designs a creative ecosystem: how the economy of fashion can have an impact on addressing issues of social and spatial justice – especially economic equity and representation.”
#BlackDesignVisionaries award recipient of The Aspiring Design Grant of $10,000, spatial designer … [+] Dominique Petit-Frère.
Committee member Toni L. Griffin says, “One of the things we loved about Head of State is how they use design in a number of different ways. There’s the design of artifacts — the fashion and the clothing itself. And there’s the narrative around what the aesthetic of the fashion means. The other is the way in which the artist designs a creative ecosystem: how the economy of fashion can have an impact on addressing issues of social and spatial justice – especially economic equity and representation.”
Instagram’s @design is supporting talented young Black designers and creatives who are diligent in their mission to manifest purposeful brands. Abijako is honored with the highest reward, and other grant winners have proven successful enough to make marginal changes and create transformative ways of thinking. 
Recipients of the #BlackDesignVisionaries Impact Grant of $75,000 received by graphic design studio … [+] Morcos Key, founded by Jon Key and Wael Morcos
Other grants and winners are the Impact Grant of $75,000 received by graphic design studio Morcos Key, founded by Jon Key and Wael Morcos, and The Aspiring Design Grant of $10,000. This grant was distributed to 3 different designers; spatial designer Dominique Petit-Frère, founder and Vision Director of Limbo Accra, Tré Seals, founder of Vocal Type, a type foundry, and Sablā Stays is a multidisciplinary designer and art director. Each will have an opportunity like Abijako, to further their vision and amplify their voices for social impact and political change.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, graduating Cum Laude from CUNY, I founded Cassell Inc. while still a student. This has been the harbor for all of my creative endeavors;

Born and raised in Brooklyn, graduating Cum Laude from CUNY, I founded Cassell Inc. while still a student. This has been the harbor for all of my creative endeavors; photography, writing, designing, as well as filmmaking, where I produced a unique series of silent art films. Capturing images of public figures at their most unassuming and unguarded, producing a colorful range of work, I have worked with the likes of many, including, music producer Pharrell Williams, musician Ed Sheeran, radio personalities Peter Rosenberg and DJ Cipha Sounds, artist, like, Ron Bass and Mokshini, eyewear designers Coco and Breezy, fine artist Roy Nachum, popular brand names, like, Samsung, Google and LG, and former Attorney General of the United States for President Barack Obama, Eric Holder. I am also the Founder and Editor In Chief of Reverie: PAGE magazine which focuses on sustainable fashion and inclusive ideas. Previously working in media and fashion apparel companies, I have noticed the lack of representation, not just of groups, but of the ideas that shape us in our everyday decisions. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @Cassellinc.

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