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Hatian Art

Battelle, Greif Work With Donna Karan to Preserve Haitian Art

Challenge

Battelle works with many industrial and consumer companies to develop new product features or improve processes, and quite often as a result of these innovations, new applications come to light that solve other important challenges. In the aftermath of 2010’s devastating earthquake in Haiti, Donna Karan, founder of the international fashion brand Donna Karan, visited Battelle and Greif in Columbus to observe the completion of work done by Battelle scientists who were able to expand color palette options for Haitian artisans of steel drums by offering better coatings and integrating a larger variety of pigments into their artistic process.

Solution

Because there’s a risk of the steel artwork rusting or deteriorating, Karan called on Battelle’s expertise in coatings. Battelle worked with Greif to identify a durable coating that would protect the artwork from corrosion and also create a matte finish that would be safe for the Haitian artists to use, making for a unique story where science meets art.

Outcome

Inspired by the creativity of the Haitian people, Karan -- through her Urban Zen Foundation for the preservation of culture and the integration of healthcare and education -- championed the Haitian Artisan Project, which helps Haitian people create artwork and jewelry from steel drums. The art is sold in the United States and the profits go back to Haiti. Greif, one of the world’s premier industrial packaging manufacturers, also supplied 40 tons of steel drum lids to the artisans of Croix-des-Bouquets because their supply of used drums was disrupted by the earthquake.

Battelle also is working along with Greif on a project with another fashion icon, Joey Adler, the founder of Diesel Canada and the ONEXONE Foundation. Adler is building a green manufacturing facility and community for workers in Haiti and is consulting with Battelle and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (which Battelle co-manages) to maximize the supply of renewable energy.