Private School is a new club in town for the art and design elite.

Get ready to get your learn on

There’s a new school in town now accepting only the most exceptional pupils.

In what’s described as “a month-long experiential showcase for brands, leaders, and makers,” Private School 101 has launched in Philadelphia.
What it is can be perceived as a head-scratcher or a stroke of genius, but a space at 448 N. 10th St. is dedicated over the next 30 days to artists, designers, and creators who have been invited to put their work on display in the form of a giant art installation.

“Classes” of various sorts are featured throughout the month of May, such as a gourmet presentation by a local chef, a professionally styled personal photo session, a fashion presentation with local designers and something called “High Tea.” Events range from $20 to $150.

The brainchild of Bela Shehu, fashion designer and founder of NINObrand, Private School celebrated its launch party last week at 448 N. 10th St., and upwards of 200 people packed the space.

Asked to clarify what exactly was happening with Private School, Shehu explained: “This is not just limited to fashion. If you’re in any culture-oriented world, this is what it is – it’s a gathering of makers and artists celebrating each other and having a platform where we can collectively drum up enough attention and make enough noise for folks to know who’s here – who’s making stuff – who’s good!”

The installation is comprised of 80 partners all under one roof and in one showroom. So, the idea behind Private School is that photographers meet glass blowers – jewelry makers meet painters, and so forth.

John Y. Wind of InLiquid Art + Design is showcasing Tiffany Man, a vintage plaster bust atop a stool, topped with Tiffany jewelry boxes, a top hat, and donning a Lufthansa sleep mask and vintage bow ties. It’s selling for $7,000.

Melissa Madonni Haims of InLiquid put together upholstery textiles, various threads, yarns, cassette tape, leather, suede, “postindustrial and pre-consumer waste” and dubbed it “IED #10.” She put a price tag on it of $780.

As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” Roger Wing, a local sculptor, showcased two giant ponderosa pine wood carvings at last week’s opening. He described his interpretation of the idea behind Private School this way: “It’s a place where you are kind of sheltered and can experiment with things and meet people and try things out and have an interactive experience that have some of the better attributes of a private school experience.”

“The ultimate goal is to get exposure and be part of a community. As sculptors, we toil in obscurity, so it’s nice to be part of a group.” Shehu said she wants those interested in Private School to come at it with an open mind. “The understanding of our existence and our goals is different as spiritual people,” she said. “[Think of it] like our whole existence – where we live, what we eat and the people that I’ve been so fortunate to collect around me – they are special.”

Going on 20 years in Philadelphia, Shehu said this season she’s added new pieces to her clothing line, NINObrand, which you can check out at her website.

Images: Allan Lane

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