What Does Black History Month Mean To You?
Black History Month for me is about being grateful, grateful for the countless contributions to life, defining our country and shaping who we are as Americans and beyond. To me, there is nothing more definitively American, than Black culture itself and the gifts that emanate from this powerful piece of our national fabric. While I try to practice gratefulness everyday, giving special time to pay attention to every flower that makes the bouquet of our culture what it is…is integral to us remaining the strong and beautiful force that we are.
Why Is Black Representation And Diversity Important To Design?
Design is a language. We tell a story through objects, through the tangible pieces in a space. We’re sculptors in a sense…And our voice, our perspective, is also about where we come from and what we see. I resisted Interior Design for many years of my young career as I didn’t feel it was cool, it wasn’t how I saw the world and WE were not all at the table, young, urban, black or brown….Where was everyone?! I grew up WITH every color of face and I get itchy, uncomfortable even, when I don’t see everybody at the party. Interior Design felt wealthy, white, stylistically conservative, old, and terribly tight. I was a young, urban kid who worked for every dime I’ve ever owned and I felt like an outsider to the industry from the beginning. However cliche, our diversity is our strength and this industry needs to work a lot harder to include every color at the table, it has been my biggest frustration with design as a whole for decades. The story of American Design, who we are culturally through what we create, should be revealed by the many voices that we are, that is our strength, that is our difference, that is our brand as a nation and without the black voice at the table we are broken and weaker.
What Is One Thing You Could Do To Create More Diversity In Your Industry?
Oh boy, so many ideas over the years….pitches, non profits, BIG ideas!!! What I’ve learned as a professional of over 20 years at this point, is to start local. Like with any great big idea, start building with the blocks that you already have in a strong and meaningful manner. Being a mom, I have easy access to children and education. Education and awareness that design is even an option in life is huge. I teach 8-10 year olds at my “Interior Design Academy” within the New York Public School system.
We focus on how to begin the process of thinking through design, telling their life story through models and hopefully owning this practice for life. Oh, and I’ve also been doing television shows on making design more approachable, affordable and deserved for the last….17 years. That, is a powerful introduction to our industry for over 83 million people a night of every color. Television has changed our industry immensely and I'm happy to have been a part of that from the very beginning. Happy Black History Month America.