Grace Bonney

ORLANDO SORIA


Why Is Important To Represent People Of Color In Interior Design?

Interior designers have one main task: to create comfortable, beautiful spaces that represent their clients' tastes, personalities, desires, and aspirations. Diversity, and particularly the representation of Black designers in the sphere of social media and press surrounding the design world, is important because it tells Black people (and everyone) that they're invited, and they're an integral part of the interior design community. It is my belief that taking care in designing your home is a way to show love and care to yourself and others. Access/inclusion in the design world shouldn't be predicated on race. 

One thing that bothers me as a design blogger and social media "personality" is how lily white the world of social media and press (both online and print) are. To read all the magazines, scroll through Instagram, or peep most design blogs, you'd think there aren't any Black designers out there designing homes for Black clients. I know there are a ton of incredible, brilliant designers of color out there producing content so it seems that the dearth of social media and press coverage on artists of color must be the result of some form of casual, subliminal racism on the part of media consumers, their lack of interest in Black lives. This is something that needs to be combated. The reason being that design is so much about cultural references, small nods to old Europe or mid-century USA, and guess what's huge right now in interior design and has been for years? Basically everything relating to African art and craft (think mud cloth and the gorgeous African objet d'art you see in so many high end design schemes). People of color, and people of African descent in particularly, have been contributing to the design conversation forever, arguably longer than any group on earth. It's time to observe and celebrate these contributions.

Why Is Black History Month Important To You?

Black Americans occupy an incredibly unique, important role in what built this country and made it the amazing place it is. As [my favorite human on earth] Michelle Obama noted, the White House was built by slaves. So here's this incredibly complex, painful reality we live in. We have to acknowledge the importance of African American contributions to creating the country, literally building the culture that we enjoy today. But we also have to be aware of what the price of that was, what sacrifices were imposed, what horrors and scars remain. I guess the reason I love Black History Month so much is that it highlights how something beautiful resulted from something unjust, sad, and terrifying. African people stolen from their home, brought to a new country and forced into slave labor, yet still managing to create the most important cultural contributions, in music, art, and design of any group in the history of the United States. I know everything isn't perfect, injustice still exists, inequality keeps haunting us as much as we'd like it to disappear forever. But Black History Month is an appreciation for the gifts of living in a country that benefits from the cultural influence of African Americans. 

What Is One Thing Someone Can Do Differently To Create More Diversity In Their Industry?

Because I work in the social media sphere, my first thought is that representation is of the utmost importance. Two things that come to mind here are AphroChic and Design*Sponge. AphroChic was one of the first online spaces to be proudly, proactively, African American and design-oriented. What Jeanine Hays did with that site is revolutionary and so important. Additionally, once of my favorite spaces online for inclusion is Grace Bonney's Design*Sponge. Grace started off as a regular run-of-the-mill design blogger, but somewhere along the way she made diversity and representation one of her main goals. She showed the world that you can be a hugely successful design blog AND be proactive about representing people of color, showing them at home, celebrating their work. We need more of this. We need more Black artists and designers documenting and sharing their work with the public, and we need more allies making a point to showcase a diversity of talent. 

 


The Sunday essay series asks experts in the design industry their perspective on Black History Month