Transforming Aspirations into Reality

Tadashi Yanai

Tadashi YanaiTadashi Yanai

Every year, a new crop of students enters Gund Hall eager to grow their experience at the world’s preeminent design school. Like so many before them, this next generation of leaders will cultivate a diverse skill set while on campus, eventually going on to shape communities around the globe. Now, thanks to a gift from a visionary donor, a cohort of talented individuals will be able to pursue meaningful learning opportunities at the GSD, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Seeking to empower students through an accessible design education, the UNIQLO Fellowship Fund will allow Japanese students the chance to cultivate their design and entrepreneurial skills, thereby helping to prepare them for future success. Established by Tadashi Yanai, the Chairman, President, and CEO of Fast Retailing, the company that owns UNIQLO as well as six other apparel brands, the fellowship program will award a total of $600K over the next three years to students from Japan.

Yanai shares, “At UNIQLO, we believe the intersection of design and management is a place where innovation resides, and in this realm the Tadashi Yanai Transforming Aspirations into Reality 46 Harvard Graduate School of Design is an excellent institution for the pursuit of new ideas. With this gift, I hope to provide a world-class education to promising Japanese students at the GSD, where they can contribute to society and realize their dreams.”

From a single store opened in Japan in 1984, UNIQLO has since expanded to over 1,600 stores worldwide, with Fast Retailing currently holding title as the globe’s fourth largest apparel retail company. In 2013 TIME Magazine named Yanai in its “Time 100,” an annual list of the most influential people in the world.

The UNIQLO Fellowship Fund reflects the School’s desires to not only broaden the range of diversity within the GSD student body, but also reach beyond the limits of its core disciplines to collaborate across sectors—in this case, the field of business.

Support such as this not only helps the GSD secure the best and brightest students from Japan, but also ensure that graduating Japanese students have the flexibility to make career choices based on their passions rather than their debt burden. This is an essential goal of the GSD, and fundamentally important to sustaining our position as the world’s top design school.

The program kicked off this past fall, and the first recipient is Kira Horie MArch ’19, who is excited to be at the GSD. “I am very thankful for the UNIQLO fellowship, which has given me the opportunity to study at the ideal place for interdisciplinary and progressive design. I hope to show my appreciation through future contributions to the field of architecture,” she relates.

Dean Mohsen Mostafavi similarly hailed the Yanai gift, sharing “Support such as this not only helps the GSD secure the best and brightest students from Japan, but also ensure that graduating Japanese students have the flexibility to make career choices based on their passions rather than their debt burden. This is an essential goal of the GSD, and fundamentally important to sustaining our position as the world’s top design school.”

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