“You think about it really, who we are—are we just a dot on a piece of paper?” ~ Donna Karan
It’s a question we all ask. Who are we? What is our significance? Are we mere dots in an abstract painting on a piece of paper that stretches forever? And if so, how can we connect the dots to create purpose?
Fashion icon, Donna Karan, along with late husband, Stephan Weiss, devoted much of their lives to connecting the dots through their passionate and influential contributions to art—Karan as a fashion designer (Donna Karan, DKNY) and Weiss as a sculptor and painter. But it took a tragic turn of events for Karan to realize just how far she could go in building connections between people and ideas.
In 2001, after a seven-year struggle with lung cancer, Weiss’s prognosis worsened. Through the course of his illness, he relied heavily on the calming effects of a holistic regime, integrating yoga, spiritual guidance, and breathing techniques to ease his discomfort. Karan watched as these techniques aided greatly in her husband’s treatment. Yet this holistic approach to wellness, she noted, was sorely missing in traditional Western healthcare.
After Weiss’s death, Karan was left without the man who had been, for nearly two decades, her husband, business partner, and co-creator. Inspired by a visit from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and hoping to bring the idea of holistic living to a larger community, Karan opened the Urban Zen center in Weiss’s old West Village studio as a way to honor her husband’s legacy. Filled with Weiss’s art and artifacts from their life together, the center is dedicated to creating a new model for approaching wellness, education and the preservation of cultures.
In a rare, intimate glimpse into the lives of Karan and Weiss, a new series of documentary shorts from THNKR exposes their tender relationship and explores the awe-inspiring Urban Zen center.
“This space is my heart, my soul, my spirit,” Karan says.
She seeks, through her Urban Zen center and foundation, to share the principles of holistic living, encouraging others to understand wellness through a lens of spirituality and connectedness, and to continue connecting the dots where Weiss left off.
Watch Donna Karan’s inspiring story here:
THNKR, created by @radical.media in 2012, is an original YouTube channel that gives viewers extraordinary access to the people, stories, and ideas that are transforming the world. In a media landscape lacking in challenging and educational content, THNKR serves as the preeminent destination for smart entertainment, bringing the unfettered opinions of today’s most intriguing and provocative minds to stimulate, challenge and perhaps, as the channel’s tag line says, CHANGE YOUR MIND. THNKR was also the recipient of the 2013 IAWTV Award for Best Documentary Web Series for the show, PRODIGIES.
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Assistant Ed: Josie Huang
Ed: Kate Bartolotta