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Near the end of the 18th Century, the Shakers of Mount Lebanon, New York formed an intentional, faith-based society that thrived well into the 19th Century. The Shakers are celebrated as pioneers of modern design—for their architecture, interiors, furnishings, and landscape—as well as for being pioneers of diversity and inclusion. In Shaker society, women and people of color played equal roles in governance, creative pursuits, and cultural development.

This program, developed by the AIANY Custom Residential Architecture Network (CRAN) in partnership with the Shaker Museum, will explore the question, “Did the diversity of Shaker society drive their remarkable innovations?” After a brief introduction by CRAN co-chair Dennis Wedlick, attendees will view three short, pre-recorded video presentations, each approximately fifteen minutes in length:

  • Historians Jerry Grant and Maggie Taft on the residential architecture and furnishings of the Shakers at Mount Lebanon.
  • Shaker scholar Sharon Duane Koomler and Brookyln-based choreographer Reggie Wilson, whose work is inspired by black Shaker dance, on the role of women and people of color in Shaker society.
  • Bi-coastal designers Dylan Davis and Jean Lee on “Furnishing Utopia,” a workshop series held at Hancock Shaker Village where designers developed sustainable solutions for contemporary homes inspired by the Shakers.

Following the presentations, Lacy Shutz of the Shaker Museum will moderate a roundtable conversation, asking panelists and audience members to tap into their own experiences to envision how embracing diversity can impact the design industry today.

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