What does skin color have to do with making great art? Absolutely nothing. Yet for years, Black artists and designers have struggled to get eyes on their work, been passed over for opportunities, and made to feel like there isn't a spot for them at the table. Associations like the Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG) and Black Interior Designers Network (BIDN) have been tasked with promoting Black creatives and fostering a sense of community when the larger design industry didn't. As recent protests stemming from the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and more at the hands of police have led the country to reckon with its systemic racism, many in the design community have spoken out about how this racism exists there—and what many white allies don't understand.
In an effort to promote better understanding, we asked over 30 Black designers to share their experiences, feelings, and thoughts on the current state of the design world. Here's what they had to say.
Note: Responses have been condensed for clarity; emphasis added.
"Being successful in the high-end design sector is a tricky world to navigate. I’ve always wanted to be judged for my work, and not the color of my skin. Mentors told me that if my business has a more well-rounded appearance, it will be more palatable to all audiences. This often has meant hiring a larger ratio of non-Black employees, so not to scare off potential clients or companies that wanted to work with me, but may feel that my brand is for 'Blacks only.' Obviously, as a Black man, this narrative is very frustrating. If a designer of color has all Black employees, the company is deemed a “Black business” and hence, not diverse. On the flip side of that, a designer who isn’t of color can have a business with no Black representation and no one says anything. That’s the default. At times it can feel like an uphill battle."
"I participate in several designers show houses, and have had some rough encounters. More than once show house attendees have casually asked me where the restroom is making the assumption that I was an employee rather than one of the designers. Recently, I participated in a very well-known event in NYC where I designed a vignette, and a donor came up to me to ask for another glass of champagne. All of these things bottled up in one are extremely frustrating, but as Black designers, we’ve been taught to continue to smile, be gracious and keep it to yourself if you want to be successful and not end up on a blacklist. Even writing this right now it’s scary because I feel like that could potentially happen."
A 2020 Next Wave designer, Mikel Welch is also a TV star; he is current co-host of Murder House Flip on Quibi, and former host of Trading Spaces. But before his TV debut, Welch was advertising his design services on Craigslist, charging clients less than a piece of furniture.
"I would like people to know that I have passionately worked in the design industry for the past thirty years, but my tenure has not always been easy. I hope that my design work has inspired your readers (regardless of race) but more importantly, I believe my work has helped to open the doors for other Black designers who saw me on your pages early on and decided that they too, could become an interior designer and that perhaps, things might be easier for them. For me, it is an important legacy to leave behind."
Based in Harlem and the Hudson Valley, Sheila Bridges has been named “America’s Best Interior Designer” by CNN and Time Magazine. She's designed residences and offices for many prominent public figures, including former President Bill Clinton and his staff. Her design firm, Sheila Bridges Design, has also completed projects at Columbia University and Princeton University. She's also the designer of the iconic Harlem Toile print, which reworks traditional French toile by swapping out 1700s motifs and incorporating illustrations of Black America.
"I’ve known my whole life I have to be twice as good to be recognized for my accomplishments and have access to opportunity. My career in design has been no different. Every Black designer has to be twice as good. But, you are asking the wrong question. The problem isn’t lack of awareness about the experiences and added burdens of being a Black person in this industry. We are all blue in the face from telling you. The problem is White people know and don’t have the will to really change it. The question you should ask: What are they doing to remake the structure they created into an actual level playing field vs. simply nipping at the edges? I’d love to see that article."
Courtney McLeod, a New Orleans native, is the founder of Right Meets Left Interior Design, a full-service studio located in New York City. Her studio's name stems from her colorful style, driven by travel (the right) plus a background in finance (the left).
Corey Damen Jenkins
"I don't consider myself a 'Black designer.' I'm an interior designer,
period — I just happen to be African American.
However, over the years,
my firm has received hate mail, threatening voicemails, and not
to mention what's been written on social media. Most of my industry
colleagues never imagine dealing with that...because they don't have to.
Yet, I have to grin and bear it."
Corey Damen Jenkins is a nationally acclaimed interior designer from Detroit. After winning HGTV's Showhouse Showdown in 2011 with his Old World Italian farmhouse design, he has made a name for himself with his bold, vibrant, and inventive style, which often takes cues from fashion. He's been featured as a guest design expert on The Rachael Ray Show and Open House TV, as well as on the cover of numerous design magazines, including House Beautiful.
"You are taught from an early age as a person of color that you have to know everything about everybody, but no one wants to know anything about us. So in order to have a conversation with you, I need to make you feel at ease and talk about things that you like, that are in your world, so that you will pay attention to me and have a conversation with me. When Black women speak out we are thought to be aggressive, having a chip on our shoulder, when we just want to have a dialogue, to help our white friends understand."
"My immediate thought is the Toni Morrison quote: 'In this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.' In America, you rarely hear white designers being referred to as a White designer. Sometimes, I feel there is this perception of otherness or that being a Black designer automatically places me in a subculture."
"Yes, I am an American designer of primarily African descent, but it does not mean my work or the projects I do for all of my clients (whose tastes range), only speak to the African or African-American aesthetic or experience. If I design a home for a client with incorporated examples of Black expressive styles or African art and furniture, it is often labeled as ‘too ethnic.' But then turn around and laud the work of white designers who have been inspired by African, African-American, or other indigenous cultures, and call it 'global chic?' Oh, and please don’t call inspiration derived from indigenous peoples 'exotic'. While being African-American is distinct, it is also extremely influential on American and global worldwide culture."
Keita Turner is runs her full-service design firm, Keita Turner Design, in New York City. Her background in fashion and interior design have also led to her stylish vintage and contemporary pillow collection, Livvy & Neva, which you can shop here.
Beth Diana Smith
"I’ve seen everything from the bad behavior of design showrooms to publications and design buildings excluding Black people as if we didn’t exist within the industry. Last year I collaborated with another designer on behalf of the Black Artists + Designers Guild and we practically built a house complete with a living room, dining room, office, outdoor space, foyer, and a sitting area within the Javits Center in NYC and we were placed in the back right next to the loading dock. What I’ve learned is that nothing has changed regardless of the year or the career, the only thing that has changed is me and how [I] handle those situations."
"My thoughts on being a Black designer are simply that we hold the same (or better) credentials, talent, and skill as our white counterparts but we know that we have to be 10 times better and work 20 times harder to garner the same opportunities. My question would be: why aren’t schools, magazines, brands, companies, and trade shows being asked how they're working with Black designers to reverse the historical exclusion? And what is their action plan in both the short and long term?"
Beth Diana Smith spent over a decade working in corporate accounting and finance before finding her true passion in design. Today she runs a full-service firm in New Jersey called Beth Diana Smith Interior Design, where she creates bold, layered interiors.
"As a Black designer, I stand out in a very culturally homogenous industry. I often feel I’m judged on an uneven scale, [as in] my work must be extraordinary just to be perceived as adequate. Every time I attend a new industry event I must once again justify why I’m in the room. It’s frustrating, but there can also be opportunity in standing out. Great design grows from a lifetime of unique experiences and perspective, of which I have an abundance. The clients who recognize this design reality will often seek me out because they want to tell a different story."
Rayman Boozer is the CEO and principal designer at Apartment 48, an NYC-based design firm. Boozer has been dubbed 'the go-to designer for color consulting,' by Time Out New York. His work has been featured featured in House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and more.
"It is important to me to send a positive message. As a Black designer I want to be recognized for my work and not shown as a victimized professional because of the color of my skin. I am a mix of white, Black, and Indian genes with a French and Caribbean culture, living in America. The talent and richness of artists and designers in my diaspora is endless. I am blessed with creativity and proud to showcase my design work...My furniture collection is inspired by my colorful Caribbean culture which you can notice in the use of colorful rich finishes on the upholstery collection."
Marie Burgos is an interior and product designer born and raised in Paris; however, her family comes from the island of Martinique. Today, she works in both Los Angeles and New York creating designs that nod to French architecture and Caribbean culture.
“In many, many instances I have been the only person of color on panels at industry conferences, at events/dinners etc. In instances where I have spoken up about this and requested a more diverse cast of speakers on panels or partnerships or models or event attendees, I have been met with defensiveness and dismissiveness. I have been the target of repeated micro-aggressions, from very frequent 'hair touching' at industry events, to comments like 'well you probably didn't have to pay for college.' I have had so many experiences like this. It's very draining. And this is my experience as a Black woman with light skin which comes with its own set of privileges. It can be much harder for women with darker skin. Colorism is very real. The whole industry needs a major wake-up call and needs to make WAY more efforts to hire Black creatives, executives and influencers as to start to effectuate some much needed change.”
Justina Blakeney is a designer, artist, and New York Times bestselling author. Blakeney first captivated the industry with her blog, Jungalow, which grew into a lifestyle brand. Seh has also designed collections for the likes of Anthropologie and Target and has a furniture line through Selamat.
Lisa Love Whittington
"As a Black female visual artist, my work may not always be considered beautiful or even be considered because of the narrative in my work. My work is often ignored even in its truths. However, when it is, it is acknowledged and considered it is highlighted and cherished."
Lisa Whittington is a Georgia-based multidisciplinary artist. She earned her doctorate at the University of Georgia and started teaching courses such as Feminists Arts, Giants of the Arts, and Visual and Media Literacy across several universities. She has given a TED talk entitled “What Does Art Want With You?” and most recently was awarded "Best in Show" for her painting "Under A Soprano Sky" at the Atlanta Airport.
"I'm African American and my business partner is of Middle Eastern descent. We realized in our first meeting, that it would be best to have ourselves represented in a way that would not waste our time or potential client's time who would not be interested in working with women of color. The thing is, there are many more people who will want to work with you for who you are, and what you bring to the table than not. It's been my experience that clients are far more embracing than that first client who tried to run me off of the road because she 'thought I was a neighborhood housekeeper' when I was trying to find her (unnumbered) home."
"There are developing opportunities for us that were non-existent when I first started. Change needs to continue. Diversity and Inclusion are not just punchy buzzwords to put on a company's website; they are the future for a world that fully reflects our beautiful differences and outstanding contributions."
Barri Branker is the co-founder of Beyond the Box Interiors, a full-service interior design firm located in Frederick, MD and Alexandria, VA., which she runs with her business partner, Lanna Ali-Hassan.
"I never received racism until I entered the housing industry, designing model homes for builders in the late 80s. It was an industry of all white people and no people of color. It took lots of marketing to break into. I hired an African American marketing director. When she made [phone] calls, builders had no idea what we were. As soon as we met in person. their mouths would drop open. Some tried to be nice and give us an opportunity to bid jobs and make a presentation, [but] we knew they would never hire us. I had to seek guidance and help from successful business owners.... I wanted to know what we doing wrong. Some advice was very frank, such as get rid of the Black marketing director and get a white girl out front. I was so close to going out of business and really needed a good job. My marketing director and I drove to Las Vegas to market to builders. I told her to stay in the hotel as I went out because my skin color was a little lighter. I felt bad, but at the time, we had to eat."
Lisa Turner is the founder of Beverly Hills-based design firm Interior Obsession. She reckons that she could write a book filled with all the experiences she's faced as a Black woman in the design industry.
"It's been eye opening how little I see minorities in the industry. I've only met 1 African-American architect in person after 10 years of being in the industry, and have not met any engineers, landscape designers or contractors either. My community doesn't see the design industry as an option. The design industry needs to take our work seriously and highlight [Black] designers who are making strides at the same level as others. If we're seen more, opportunities will open up."
Next Wave designer Linda Hayslett's fast-paced career started in the fashion and entertainment industry. Fast forward almost two decades and she moved from Nw York to Los Angeles and opened her firm, LH. Designs. Her work has been featured in Elle Decor, Rue, Apartment Therapy, California Home + Design, MyDomaine and more.
"For a long time I desired to be apart of this community that honestly didn't look like me or represented me. I don't think Black designers/creatives are looking for a handout or desire inclusion out of meeting a quota or showing some sign of good faith. It's time that we admit that the rich culture of the Black experience has been left out of our beloved design community. I am hoping once and for all that the work speaks for itself and that diversity can truly be respected and celebrated."
Kesha Franklin is founder of design firm Halden Interiors. She is a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses alumna and has been named Designer to Watch by the Black Interior Designer’s Network. Her work has been featured in Elle Decor, Dwell Magazine, NBC’s Open House, AD PRO, Business of Home, ARRAY Magazine and more.
"I’ve always felt that I've needed to "over-achieve" to be noticed and accepted as a peer in the interior design industry. When I turn the pages in major magazines, I know that my designs and experience meet the standards, even though I may not be in them. I’ll really never know if the color of my skin would have made a difference in how I've been perceived getting a luxury design project, or how much support I’ve gotten on my product line —that's the conundrum. I just know to strive for excellence. If I fall, I get back up and keep going, because I love what I do, and that I know my work can benefit others. That’s how resilient I am."
Linda Allen is a Las Vegas-based designer and lighting expert who runs Linda Allen Designs and Live Anywhere Lighting. Throughout her career, she has worked on numerous high-profile projects like designing story-themed light fixtures for Tokyo Disney Seas and Disney’s California Adventure, as well as working on Magic Johnson’s offices.
"The first time I ever saw a Black architect, I was in my 3rd or 4th year of the BArch program at Arizona State University, back in 1973 or so. I hated him. Growing up in Las Vegas, Nevada, on the West side in the Black community, afforded me no opportunity to meet or know anyone who looked like me, [or] wanted to be an environmental designer. Needless to say, in design school I struggled, needlessly. Children need to see faces that look like their own in positions of authority, protection and in the making and maintaining of the communities they live and grow. Both our society in general and this profession have a long way to go."
Jack Travis is an adjunct professor at the Pratt Institute and the Fashion Institute of Technology. He has worked on several residential interiors projects for clients such as Spike Lee, Wesley Snipes, and John Saunders. He has also worked with commercial and retail clients like Giorgio Armani SPA, Cashmere Cashmere of New York, as well as the Sbarro family of the famed pizza parlors.
"As a designer having visibility is invaluable. Publicity can create more opportunity. Having windows to platforms, I believe is not only beneficial to me, but also exposes others to different design perspectives and makes conversation about design more powerful and enriching. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to be featured in publications, but there is also a need and more room for Black designers to be featured and invited to participate in a wider variety and greater number of publications and events. Like I always say, good design is good design, [but] we can do better."
Delia Kenza is a Brooklyn-based interior designer and current c0-host of Quibi's Barkitecture. Kenza's passion for design was heavily influenced by her grandmother, a seamstress, who "was elegant in everything she did, everything she wore, and in how she lived." Kenza's work has been featured in New York Magazine and Brownstoner, as well as on HGTV and Open House New York.
"I spent my whole life appreciating fabrics and wallpapers from other cultures, yet I didn’t recognize myself in them. I thought it was the norm, until one day I decided it wasn’t OK. Our art matters and should be appreciated. It should be an option in home decor, aligned with Chinoiseries, Toile de Jouy, etc. I invite you to get out of the norm and experience what has been there for a long time. Invite it into your space, appreciate its value and its originality, and you will discover us and also yourself."
Valérie Louis is the founder of Yaël & Valérie, a design company named after herself and her teenage daughter, and inspired and run by women in Haiti. The company creates fabrics, wallpapers and home accessories that feature notable women throughout history—from African queens to Haitian resistance fighters and American protesters.
"Spending the first half of my career working within higher end residential firms has shaped the type of furniture and vendors I'm accustomed to sourcing from for projects. But as I went out on my own, without the backing of a large or well known name, representatives and showrooms often assumed I didn't have clients that could afford their line. They would steer me into a 'more affordable' segment of their offerings or go as far as to not respond to inquiries at all. I would push through with a smile and confirm that I'm capable of shopping within a higher price range, and that my clients are depending on me to bring them quality textiles and goods. Sourcing furniture and materials is one of my favorite parts of the design process, but the added stress of working with vendors and showrooms sometimes puts a damper on my creativity. I look forward to the days, when I don't have to fight as much to 'give' them my business."
Eneia White is an interior designer from Queens, New York and owns her own firm, Eneia White Interiors. In addition to her (life size) design work, she also enjoys building and collecting dollhouses — you can check out her dollhouse for our Dollhouse Beautiful series here.
"Early on in my career I was fortunate enough to work with designers who valued my contributions and took the time to encourage my growth and development despite the color of my skin. However, it was outside the office where I was too often mistaken for a delivery guy, asked to use the service entrance, or given surprised looks when presenting my portfolio. Black designers belong in the same spaces as our white counterparts and our views and perspectives should be sought after and celebrated in the same manner. This is why organizations like BADG are so important. BADG has created a platform to highlight our contributions to the design community. Although I have made great strides in this industry it has not come without some level of prejudice, both subtle and overt."
Byron Risdon is the owner of Byron Risdon LLC, a full-service interior design boutique firm in Washington, D.C., that offers residential and commercial services. Risdon claims his style stems from his love of travel and the interiors he has seen around the world.
Tamu Rasheba Green
"My experience as a designer in this industry is often a conflicting one. Having a diverse clientele, I've seen the financial gap between white households and households of color. Black clients often have significantly less to spend on their homes than their white counterparts, even while holding the same education levels and positions. It is startling to see the vastly different lifestyles amongst such strikingly similar backgrounds. When Black people manage to accumulate wealth, they are often the target of unfair practices that aim to take it away from them. My experience in this industry have made me acutely aware of the vastly different lifestyles and financial inequity that fuels the racial divide in this country."
Tamu Rasheba Green is the owner of Lux Pad Interiors in New York City, a solutions-based design firm.
"I want people to know that Black interior designers bring a plethora of diverse experiences and points of view to projects that the mainstream design community has often discounted. There has been a prevailing belief that Black interior designers only create Black or 'ethnic' designs. Yet Black interior designers are educated in the same design schools as their Caucasian colleagues. I have found that when given the chance to design from my point of view, a well traveled and experienced African American designer, the design community has benefited."
Sheryl McLean is the president and founder of full-service design firm, McLean and Tircuit LLC. She has worked on contemporary residences, multi-family housing (included senior living establishments), as well as professional and medical offices.
Michel Smith Boyd
"The Black designers and artists I know aren’t looking for handouts—we’re beyond talented. We simply will no longer accept having those talents ignored based on systemic racism or bias. Our white counterparts have more access and are granted better opportunities. That truth does and has applied to every position, in every industry, throughout history. We’ve earned our space. Black people have been finding ways to survive and thrive, with proverbial 'knees on our necks' since our arrival."
Michel Smith Boyd is an interior designer and star of the hit Bravo show, Buying it Blind. His Atlanta-based firm, Michel Smith Boyd Interiors, is known for Michel’s signature, sumptuous style, which has been featured in Elle Décor, Traditional Home, Vogue, Veranda, Ebony, The Washington Post, and more.
"I came into the interior design industry at a time when digital mediums, like podcasts, webinars, blogs, and Facebook Groups really opened up this world to new designers. I was able to simply search online to get what I needed to build and grow my business. I'm so grateful for organizations like the Black Artists + Designers Guild. Their online directory of Black artisans gives publications and other industry leaders similar access to search online to find new talent to feature to grow the industry."
Alana Frailey is the owner of Houston-based full service firm, Alana Frailey Interior Design and an active member of the BAD Guild.
"My experience in the industry has been a good one overall, but I do wish that there was a more diverse representation of designers in the public realm though. When I first started studying design, I rarely saw any designers of color in magazines, at trade shows or as speakers at trade events. Once I started looking more deeply, I was happily surprised to find that there are, in fact, many very talented designers of color and many organizations such as BADG that are doing a lot to further the opportunities and visibility of our work. I think it’s important not only for the general public to see our work but also for young people of color to see opportunities for themselves and to see that this is an industry that would embrace them."
Next Wave designer Laura Hodges is passionate about travel and sustainability. She is the owner of Laura Hodges Studio, as well as Domain, her brick-and-mortar store in Baltimore, which sells locally-sourced, handmade items that will help shoppers incorporate the type of collected look shown in her interiors.
"As a young industrial designer interested in creating modern African furniture, I lacked the connections and financial support to produce the style and quality I wanted. Frustrated, I exited the industry. Fast forward to 2018, when, enabled by social media, like-minded creatives gathered to form the Black Artists + Designers Guild. Supported by this network, I have recently restarted my furniture design work again. There are still very steep challenges remaining and popular shelter media has not expressed interest in the type of work that I do—although I typically receive interview or information requests either during Black History Month or for specific diversity events. It's important to see Black designers represented instead of Eurocentric designers displaying works copied or borrowed from Black cultures."
Jomo Tariku is a Kenyan-born, Virginia-based Ethiopian furniture designer and founder of Jomo Furniture, which sells sculptural, wooden pieces inspired by African heritage.
"I live and work in TriBeCa and have on occasion been mistaken for either cleaning staff or a nanny whilst visiting job sites (to the extent of once being handed a baby). But always I have to somehow maintain my professionalism so as not to perpetuate the stereotype and simply get the work done. I’ve had to compromise on negotiating rates in the past; I felt at times that people often don’t see my worth as equal with white designers. When I express myself and demand high standards, I’ve been told I’m being aggressive or difficult, because people so easily default to the angry Black woman stereotype in a way they’d never do with a white designer, who'd just has 'high standards.'"
Nina Barnieh-Blair is the Principal and Creative Director of NinaBDesign in New York City, where she creates warm, modern interiors.
"I worked for a design studio where I was the only person of color for most of my time there. Certain statements were said to me like 'try to tone down your sassy for this meeting' or 'go be mean to that vendor and see if they will refund some money on that order.' I would constantly downplay what was being said to me or joke it off to fit in with a team that really didn’t understand me and my unique personality as a Black woman. It disappointed and hurt me the most when I was told that I was 'intimidating and threatening.' My personality does not even come close to fitting that description—as a Black woman professional I have high standards and want the best in quality and service just like anyone else. I don’t understand why that gives me a label of aggressive or intimidating."
Kiyonda Powell is the Principal Designer at Kiyonda Powell Design Studio, a boutique decor studio based in Washington D.C.
"Do white designers have to question whether putting a picture of themselves on the 'About' page of their website will impact their business negatively? Or if showcasing their work at a trade show will negatively impact their business because they are showing that they are Black? The answer is a resounding NO. Questions like these and countless others plague people of color in every industry, not just design."
Raymond Barberousse runs Miami-based design studio Studio PGRB with his wife Priti Gandhi.
"I will say the overwhelming issue is the lack of representation. There are incredible Black designers out there and I frequently see the industry rinse and repeat a select few or not include us at all. That narrative is exhausting in itself to not see people that look like my myself put on platforms to show their work."
Tiffany Thompson is the founder of Duett Interiors, a full-service residential design firm in Portland, Oregon.
"It’s been pretty lonely being a Black interior designer in New York. For years I only knew of one other Black designer and we only found each other because I was frequently mistaken for her at industry events and functions. At those industry events, there were no Black panelists, no product spotlights on other Black artisans, and there weren't very many of us in attendance. But when the Black Artist and Designers Guild was founded, I was no longer alone in navigating my business through a very affluent and largely homogeneous market. There is still a LOT of work to do, but we're moving in the right direction."
Danielle Fennoy is the founder of NYC-based design firm, Revamp, and is a former House Beautiful Next Wave designer. Fennoy is known for her warm, modern spaces that don't lack color. She's been seen on HGTV shows Bang For Your Buck and My Favorite Place.
"The list of The Best Black... can't just be during Black History Month. This is tokenism. Don't get me wrong, these lists are important in helping manufacturers and news outlets find and discover Black talent, but we also need to be on lists that aren't exclusively for Black people."
Ariene Bethea is the founder of Dressing Room Interiors Studio, a vintage home furnishings boutique in North Carolina.
"It’s worrisome that trade publications seek to spotlight the work of extremely talented Black designers/creatives only in response to a crisis. That needs to end.
We have the same caliber of clients like our white peers, the same talent, or greater and yet we are not routinely sought after to feature our projects, beyond Black History Month. To truly make a change, editors must consciously make the effort routinely to diversify the projects featured. It’s as easy as spending five minutes on Instagram or any social media platform. We are highly visible and yet too often overlooked."
Nicole White is the president and principal designer of Nicole White Designs, based in Florida.
"I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design, as well as a Master of Science in Interior Architecture & Research. But I find that as a Black interior designer, I am working harder in every single aspect of my business in order to be seen. I don’t mind the work, because design is my passion, and it benefits my clients. However, I don’t find that the same opportunities, (show houses, panel discussions, etc.) come as regularly or easily as they do to my white counterparts. And it’s not to say that they aren’t talented, because they are, and I am tremendously inspired by a lot of them. However I have something great to contribute as well. But it’s hard to do so when you're not only refused a seat at the table, but excluded from the party all together."
Nile Johnson was born and raised in Baltimore, MD, and is the Principal of Nile Johnson Interior Design. His work has been featured on HGTV as well as in national and local publications.
Dana M. Baugh
"I believe good design is universal. I believe different and diverse perspectives are necessary and should be showcased. It gives me great pleasure to be able to share my perspective of Jamaican culture in a tangible form. I love when it connects with people all over the world and brings joy to their lives. Although there are several challenges making your own products in Jamaica, such as lack of necessary support and framework for manufacturing and e-commerce; my overall experience has been a worthwhile and rewarding one."
Dana M. Baugh is the owner of Jamacia-based BAUGHaus Design Studio. The studio is known for its hand-made ceramics, lighting, furniture and home goods designed with a Caribbean twist. You can shop BAUGHaus here.
Karen J Revis
"As an artist who makes art regarding the Black experience with Black imagery, my work is always labeled as political or targeted to a Black audience. I've always found that curious. I had a teacher tell me in art school that I would only be a success in the art world if I painted about my Black experience. I couldn't image what other experience I could paint from. As if my experiences aren't universal."
Leslie Rinehardt and Marvin Miller
"Our experience has been that although we know there are many talented designers of color in this industry, we feel we have been largely overlooked and unsupported, due to the obvious lack of representation in shelter publications and other media formats. It appears that the industry has historically embraced homogeneity over diversity and inclusivity, and that this lack of representation has made it difficult to gain exposure to a broader clientele. Because we absolutely love what we do... we are optimistic for change!"
Longtime friends Leslie Rinehardt and Marvin Miller run Rinehardt | Miller & Co, a construction management and design firm located in New Jersey.
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