Chicago, Ill.—As part of a long-term commitment to expose a diverse community of students and emerging professionals to design through learning and engagement, Mannington Commercial supported the International Interior Design Association’s (IIDA) new design program for high school students, “Design Your World,” in partnership with the non-profit organization, After School Matters (ASM). The pilot, which will kickstart here July 6, will grant educational design opportunities while tackling diversity in design at the source, according to Mannington.
“Design Your World is providing the design community an opportunity to reach the next generation about opportunities and help them open doors in a dispirited racial climate,” said Roby Isaac, vice president of commercial design, Mannington Commercial. “I was granted a similar opportunity growing up in Philadelphia, and I am excited to be part of a program that is helping build community and inspiring other students to enter the design world. At the end of the day, we will all benefit from the perspectives a diverse community will bring to our workplaces and personal lives.”
According to Mannington, ASM has a long-standing record of success in the Chicago area, having served nearly 19,000 high school teens annually and over 350,000 since the program’s inception, with a focus on underserved communities. The partnership invites a paradigm shift in the predominately white design industry, focusing on students in the crucial early stages of career exploration with an aim to bring the possibilities and inspiration of a career in design within their reach. Design Your World presents an important link to current IIDA efforts, which support scholarships for BIPOC design school students and provide continuing professional education and programming to members around the world, Mannington said.
“Our goal is to demonstrate that design is accessible to all, both as a career and as a necessary component of life,” said Cheryl S. Durst, executive vice president and chief executive officer, IIDA. “We are honored to partner with After School Matters to help bridge the disparities BIPOC students face when determining their education and career path. It is our responsibility to form a new archetype for BIPOC students. One that illuminates the value of design as a profession and provides a deeper understanding and appreciation for the built environment.”
Durst, who holds a certificate in equity, diversity and inclusion from Cornell, will kick-off Design Your World, followed by Isaac; Dina Griffin, former president of the Illinois chapter of the National Organization for Minority Architects, IIDA, FAIA, NOMA; Tara Headley, Hendrick interior designer and Savannah College of Art and Design Professor, IIDA; and Tiara Hughes, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) senior urban designer, project manager and founder of the First 500 project.
A significant initiative for IIDA and the design industry at large, the six-week program will examine a well-rounded commercial design curriculum that will cover topics such as material selection, color theory, creating space plans as well as working with various types of design firms and sectors, Mannington said. The program is led by Ciera C. Payton, Florida A&M University Architecture graduate and Savannah College of Art and Design MFA graduate and interior designer.
“After School Matters is thrilled to welcome IIDA and commercial design as part of our programming,” said Melissa Mister, ASM chief programs officer. “It is vital for our teens to understand the impact an environment can have on how we interact, work and thrive, and further, to feel encouraged to play a larger role in the design process.”
Design Your World will officially launch July 6 with the initial ASM course running through August 13, 2021.