Diversity In Design

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FOREWORD: This book is a compilation of a blog series that I did called the 28 Days of Diversity in Design that started in February and ran its course through mid March in celebration of the design contributions of people of color. As a product designer I spend a lot of time going to tradeshows, trend forecasts, meetups and networking events and always notice the lack of diversity in the room. For the last few years I have spoken to other designers and even bloggers about why nobody ever does a designer of color spotlight at least during the month of February. This year I decided to fill the void. This Journey has allowed me to connect and learn about fellow colleagues in design that I was unfamiliar with and hope to offer the same benefit by introducing you to a few brilliant creatives in the design world. While I met my goal and spotlighted and received great feed back within the 28 day series, I could not stop researching and connecting with designers of color and decided to launch a full on blog called Design In Color to share the work of more designers of color. This will be an ongoing project that I am working to shape into something even greater. So please savor and enjoy this little book and visit Design In Color to continue being inspired.


About the Author: Tina Shoulders is a Bronx native that lives design. She started her career as a textile designer in the fashion industry. She has produced designs for CK Jeans, Brooks Brothers, Tommy Hilfigger, Martha Stewart, Kenneth Cole and a plethora of other fashion forward design companies. In 2006 she launched the urban funk home and lifestyle brand Laidback. It was her answer to the lack of conversational funky interiors to give attitude to a modern home. Her work has appeared on MTV Real Worl, Ugly Betty, and in several design magazines and blogs. Tina started this labor of love as an answer to her monthly question “How come shelter pubs don’t highlight more people of color or at the very least do profiles during Black History Month?” They didn’t so she did through her blog that has been comprised into this e-book for your education and inspiration.


Day 1: Meet Boa Boa is the founder of the Brooklyn based eco- friendly design boutique Object Interiors. She prides herself in designing timeless contemporary pieces that reduce the environmental impact of production. Her line includes stools, benches, seating, candle holders, media consoles and more. This past May she participated in Brooklyn Designs and unveiled her Live Earth collection. I have had the pleasure of meeting and kicking it with Boa, her spirit and energy parallel the beauty of her designs. Check out her designs at Object Interiors and coverage from her Bk Designs debut here.


Day 2: Meet Bibi Seck Bibi Seck is an internationally acclaimed product designer and one half of the husband wife duo Birsel + Seck. Prior to starting a design studio the Parisian born Bibi was with Renault for 12 years designing and led the interior design team that won the Car of the Year award from the European trade for the Trafic in 2002. Bibi also won a prestigious award in 2002, Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve for the F1 Micrograph watch for Tag Heuer. He continues to design along with his partner and wife Ayse Birsel everything from furnishings, home, products, environmental spaces, retail systems, electronics, and automative interiors. I had the pleasure of meeting Bibi last month from a mutual friend, he was modest and cool as a cucumber about his work only for me to later look him up to see tons of press, awards, an accomplishments. He has also taught at schools overseas as well as Pratt Institute. Please check out his impressive portfolio of work including work for Herman Miller, Target, Hewlett Packard and more on his website Birsel + Seck. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 3: Meet Shevon Gant Shevon Gant is a Brooklyn based potter. For those unfamiliar with pottery, it is the beautiful ceramic ware that we see in department stores or boutiques which can be earthenware, stoneware, or porcelain. Every home has pottery weather it’s a cup, plate, a vase, etc. Shevon creates unique and beautiful jewelry, soap, and vanity trays, as well amazing tableware which include cups, bowls, and teapots. The colors and designs in her work show her love and inspiration from nature through organic shapes and earthtones. To see more of her beautiful work and to purchase that special handmade gift for your home or as a hostess gift check out her website Shevon Gant Ceramics.


Day 4: Meet Karen Young Karen Young is a Brooklyn based textile designer and founder of Hammocks and High Tea Most of the imagery of her designs transport you to the beauty and the warmth of the tropics where she draws some of her inspiration . Her line includes everything from pillows, sachets, tea towels, place mats and napkins all made with organic fabrics. Karen’s designs help you to remember the beauty in detail when you open up your dresser and are soothed by the elegance of one of her scented liners beneath your most intimate of garments. Karen’s creativity goes beyond the home and treats your body to beauty as well, with her line of organic body balms, soak scrubs, and massage oils called IIha Organics. You meet Karen one day after launching her Spring 2010 collection, to see the collection and find out more about her work go to Hammocks & High Tea. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 5: Meet Stephen Burks Stephen Burks is a one of the most well known American Industrial designers to date. I have seen the NY Based designer in tons of magazines including ID, Wall Paper, and Elle Decor and have always been impressed with his range of design. He has designed everything from packaging (fragrance), interiors, lighting, furniture, and textiles. This young brother has won fellowships, design awards and even served on the board of the Cologne Furniture Fair. He has international acclaim, regularly working and collaborating on projects here and overseas through his studio Readymade Projects. To check out his impressive portfolio which includes collaborations with Vitra, and Missoni click here.


Day 6: Meet Malene Barnett Malene (pronounced ma-lay-nee) is a Brooklyn based carpet designer with a bakground in textile arts, illustrations, and painting. She has designed carpets for Martha Stewart, Nate Berkus, Liz Claiborne and many other industry professionals before introducing her own line Malene b. Malene’s line brings the perspective of the world traveler with bold colors and strong cultural references and symbols in her designs. The rugs are hand made with Tibetan hand knotted wool, Tibetan hand knotted wool and silk combo and the the most luxurious of fabrics. Malene has a great eye for detail and an amazing spirit. Please indulge yourself and visit her site Malene b.


Day 7: Meet B. Smith B. Smith is a trailblazer in the area of lifestyle and design for African Americans. B. Smith who was formerly a model has transcended her grace, style and elegance into a lifestyle, known foremost for her restaurants in NY, D.C, and Sag Harbor. The beauty and elegance of the restaurants brought Bed, Bath & Beyond knocking on her door to create a home collection, which debuted in 2001. Her collection is the first line by an African American to be sold at a nationwide retailer. She has everyhing from duvets, window treatments, bathroom accessories, candles, art and rugs in the collection. She also has licensed products including wall art, mirrors, and furniture. B. Smith is conquering everything from design to media, with 2 cookbooks, and a new tv show set to air this year. B. Smith is every woman. To read more about B. Smith check her website, to see the entire collection for Bed, Bath and Beyond go here, and for her restaurants. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 8: Meet Ruth Babajide Ruth is a recent graduate of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design who studied Ceramic Design and recently launched Merbi. Merbi is comprises her collection of ceramic design of table and giftware. Her designs show influence from her Nigerian culture where she introduces ceramic canisters which she says is “designed to introduce the Nigerian culture of storing large quanitites of dry food to a western audience.� The beautiful canisters can be used to hold everything from food to jewelry to notions with style. There is a real elegance to the simplicity of the colors, shapes, and the organic illustrations on the ceramics that add to its allure. To see more of her work visit her site Merbi.


Day 9: Meet Jaime Hayon Jaime Hayon was born in Madrid and studied industrial design in both Madrid and Paris. Jaime is both an artist and designer with a very whimsical playful design aesthetic. All of his work has character and personality of it’s own from his camper shoe collection which is pure art to his collections of lighting, furniture, designer toys and ceramics. Jaime has also traveled the world doing interior design and installations that have been seen in Germany’s Vitra Museum, London’s Design Museum and a plethora of prestigious museums, hotels, restaurants, and retail establishments. He is truly a creative with the most mind blowing designs. To see his work and learn about the muti dimensional work of this talented brother visit his studio site, Hayon Studio.


Day 10: Meet the Designers Behind Royal Hut Royal Hut is one of the first luxury brands in the world focused on creating products using African cloth. Mary Vinson founded Royal Hut in 2001, inspired by the beauty of the costumes worn by Nigerian Musician King Sunny Ade and his band. She created apparel and luxury home products of pillows, sheets, towels, kimonos and cusions all reflectiing the beauty of West African Textiles. Mary Vinson died in 2004 of cancer but her legacy lives on through London based Andrew Bannis who took over. He continues to research and source the most beautiful of West African textiles employing the beauty of tradional African arts to show how modern a look you can achieve with African Textiles. Andrew Bannis is set to launch a mens and womens collection using West African cloth this Spring as well. To read about the foundation set up to keep her creative spirit alive in Jamaica go here To explore the beauty of the textiles and the offerings of Royal Hut visit Royal Hut. To keep up with Andrew Bannis and his upcoming fashion line and work with Royal hut visit his website http://www.lacompagnie.co.uk/ www.designincolorblog.com

Day 11: Meet Jeanine Hays I have been a fan and virtual friend of Jeanine by way of her design blog Aphrochic. It seemed only fitting that at some point she would create her own collection. Jeanine launched a line of beautiful pillows last year during Design Philadelphia. Jeanine is the spokesperson for modern, soulful style. Her designs all have very ethnic references with a modern spin, the use of color and detail, give it great style while not loosing the ethnic allure. Jeanine prides herself on building a brand surrounded by being conscious of her environment, and incorporating sustainable practices by considering her choices for fabrication and printing. Her fabrics are truly luxurious, using primarily 100% Belgium linen. These pillows will upgrade your living area to give you modern soulful style with its global appeal and bold graphics. To see more of her designs visit her website (which is so easy to get lost in with the beauty and brightness of it colors and the pictures) click here. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 12: Meet Imani Powell and Kaza Razat of Spye Design I stumbled on this duo sometime last year and have been a big fan of the edginess of their designs ever since. There is a wittiness to their designs that are inspired. They are product designers based in Harlem that design items with an urban edge that are innovative and fun. One of my favorite designs is their brass knuckle soap, so you can go hard on the dirt. Their “melt candle” not only reminds us to take the candle literally but they also designed it “as a reminder of the fate of the worlds glaciers and ice caps” (quote pulled from site). Conversational design should be a welcome addition to all homes, design that makes you think or chuckle warms the heart and the home. Spye Design does a great job of capturing that essence while still remaining edgy. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with next. To see more of their work visit Spye Design.


Day 13: Meet Bill Johnson Bill Johnson started his career in furniture sales and after years of study in everything from 3 dimensional metal sculpting and interior design. He opened an interior design studio in 1995, later advancing to furniture and fabrication design. Bill’s designs are heavily inspired by nature which is seen by the fluid organic lines in many of his tables as well as the colors and textures used in his interior design projects. Bill’s aesthetic is unique and organic and has recently extended into a vintage leather apparel line. To see more of his work in design, sculpture, and interiors check out his website Bill Johnson Studio.


Day 14: Meet Sheila Bridges Sheila bridges who has been named America’s Best Interior Designer by CNN and Time Magazine is the name that comes to most minds when you mention African American and interior design. Sheila’s design company started in 1993 defined by “thought evoking and visually stimulating design.” Sheila is an an author and has also hosted her own design show “Sheila Bridges Designer Living” for four seasons. Just a few years ago her love for design led her to the world of furniture and wallpaper design under the name Sheila Bridges Home, Inc and her designs have been carried at Antropologie as well as Bed, Bath and Beyond. Sheila is an amazing talent and has been one of the African American trailblazers in interior design. Too see more of her work and learn more about her many accomplishments, click here. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 15: Meet Michelle Butler Michelle Butler is what I call a textile sculpture artist, her textiles are beautiful works of 3dimensional art. Uk based Michelle, launched Isolyn in 2002 to house her collection of sculptural soft furnishings. Michelle says she is inspired by structural geometry and decorative forms found in nature. Her inspiration is evident when you see her flower cushion designs as well as the cubic sofa and molecule cushion designs. Michelle has designed everything from wall hangings, chandeliers, rugs, pouffes, and bags with her signature 3-dimensional style creating a collection of colorful bright innovative soft furnishings. To see more of Michelles’ work please click here to see her website.


Day 16: Meet Crystal Windham Today lets leave the home and jump in to the beautiful world of car interior and design and meet Crystal Windham. Crystal Windham is the Director of General Motors North American Passenger Car Design, where she heads interior design. She is the first African American woman to hold this distinct position. This came as a result of her being the lead designer for the award winning “Car of the Year,” 2008 Chevy Malibu. Crystal says “as an interior designer I create solutions and appealing spaces for customers.” Crystal draws her inspiration for her designs from fashion and technology, with research of Luis Vuitton purses leading her to come up with the two-tone upscale interior that led to her award winning car design of the Chevy Malibu. While auto design isn’t the traditional design path many creatives take there is a beauty and appreciation for a well designed car and that is something that Crystal has been bringing to GM since 1994. Crystal Windham was a great find while exploring people of color in the field of product design, what product do most people covet more than their cars these days. I googled Chrystal to learn more about her career and design initiatives. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 17: Aida Duplessis Aida is a textile designer whom I found through a mutual friend that lives in Bamako. She creates her textiles completely chemical free using organic cotton mixed with vetiver (type of grass native to India) and natural dyes. Her goal is to contribute to a “cleaner and more sustainable planet�. Her textiles (tapis) are created for indoor and outdoor use and also creates a contemporary collection of accessories including pillows and throws that are scented. She launched Yeleen Design in 2003 in Burkina Fasu and labels all of her designs as made in Mali. To see more of her gorgeous textiles you can visit her site which is French Yeleen Design.


Day 18: Robin Myers Robin Myers is a Mount Vernon, NY based boutique owner and interior designer. Robin opened her boutique and launched her design business as an answer to the lack of contemporary well designed products with a cultural influence. Robins’ design aesthetic is contemporary, a bit eclectic with lots of soul. Her style is evident the moment you enter the beautiful brownstone that houses her boutique or see her many interior design projects that include interiors for residences and commercial spaces. Robin encourages wellness through her designs by creating open beautiful spaces that are inviting to entertain in or sit in tranquility as well as the very items she carries in her boutique. Robin shops for her projects as well as her store with the love of the earth and sustainability in mind, offering items like bamboo travel utensils to go with stainless steel sleek lunchboxes, as well as picnic baskets to enjoy the beauty of a Spring Day. I had the pleasure of meeting Robin several years ago simply by walking in her store and we have become instant friends, she has a beautiful spirit that enhaces the beauty of the store and any place she designs. To see more of her work go to her website. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 19: Meet Sharne Algotsson Sharne is a boutique owner, interior designer, and furniture designer based out of Philadelphia. Sharne began her career in Stockholm working at Ikea and has used that experience to launch her design company, Inside Design Ltd and set the stage for the beauty of her boutique Twist. When you walk into Twist it is like walking into a gallery that allows you to touch its beautiful art. The store showcases designs scoured from her global travel as well as gorgeous custom tables, chairs, and settees that she designed. Sharne is the author of 3 inspiring design books City Living, African Style, and she co-authored Spirit of African Design. I own “Spirit of African Design� and have had the opportunity to visit the Philadlephia store and her work is inspired. To learn more about Sharne and to see her work visit Twisthome.


Day 20: Meet Cecil Hayes I don’t even know where to begin when introducing Cecil Hayes because she is one of the premier African American trailblazers in interior and product design. She launched her design company in 1975 and was really the first African American Interior designer to have world wide recognition. She has designed homes for Samuel L. Jackson, Jamal Mashburn, Wesley Snipes and a host of other celebrities. She has a furniture line under Mikala Inc which is a collection of handcrafted chairs, tables and consoles that are pure works of art. Cecil’s design aesthetic is color and culture friendly, using lots of patterns and shapes that offer a global look to many of the rooms that she has designed. Cecil has been inducted into the Smithsonian Design Archives as well as the Video Archival Collection for Life and Career Accomplishments along with being awarded keys to the city of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Her awards and achievements are endless and she continues to pass the torch with her philanthropic efforts starting Cecil’s Circle of One Foundation that works to inspire students and offer scholarships to high schools students interested in the arts. Cecil continues to design and author design books as well as offer tips and design help on her website. To learn more about Cecil’s work click here. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 21: Meet Scott Tucker Scott Tucker is a talented brother that I stumbled on a few years ago after seeing him in a commercial and print ads that were done for Lincoln. He is a Brooklyn based furniture designer who has since added set design and event construction to his portfolio. He has worked and created a spa for Evian, event spaces for Elle Decor and a plethora of scenes and sets for many well known brands. He creates spaces that offer a branded experience for companies with custom designs, staging, and furniture. Scott’s furniture line called Raunjiba is a modern collection of lounges, tables and chairs made of Bamboo, Brazillian teak, and African Mongoi accompanied by rich natural stones. Scott’s work appears to have drawn cultural inspiration from Africa and Native America. His most inspired piece is the Nikko lounge which is a sporty sleek outdoor lounge equipped with wheels to move it about as the sun shines on your desck. Scott’s work is innovative and beautifully crafted. To learn more about his event prodcution designs go here and to see more of his furniture designs check out Raunjiba. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 22: Meet Robin Wilson Robin Wilson is an eco-friendly interior designer who specializes in creating healthy homes. Her design firm Robin Wilson Design launched in 2000 is focused on the principles of eco-friendly design: sustainable, reusable, non-toxic and recyclable. Robin doesn’t have the conventional designers background holding a masters in real estate finance, but she has a modern sensibility to design with a great eye for color and detail. She is the designer behind Bill Clintons Harlem office renovation as well as the Kennedy Greenhouse. Robin has authored Kennedy Green House: Designing and Eco-Healthy Home from the Foundation to the Furniture about the transformation of the Kennedy Greenhouse which also offers tips on how to “greenify” your home. Robin’s NYC based firm has branched out into custom cabinetry with a license with Holiday kitchens. Robin spoke yesterday at the Architectural Digest Eco-Friendly Design panel and is doing city to city book signings, if you miss her at a signing you can learn more about her work and design company at Robin Wilson Design. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 23: Meet Trudy Miller Trudy Miller is a Brooklyn based designer who started her design career as an architect. She has since branched out to creating both furniture and fashion which she sells from her Brooklyn based boutique Trudy Miller. Trudy’s design aesthetic in both fashion and furniture is all about utilitarian chic, and giving you all she can in form and function in the smallest package possible. Her furniture projects consolidate multiple pieces of furniture into one to offer more space in your home. She has created love seats that do double duty as both seating and storage with shelves and drawers. Trudys’ fashion and furniture both offer style with multiple functions. Trudy has taught at both Parsons and California College of Arts. You can visit her Brooklyn based store to see both her furniture and fashion collections or learn more about Trudy here. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 24: Meet Fatimata Ly I met Fatimata earlier this year when she was visiting the states and fellow DID designer, and we all sat and talked about design, love and life. We talked mostly about design and incorporating African inspired design and African designs into a modern home. I only recently found out that she herself had launched a ceramics collection. London based, Fatimata was a former gallery owner who has since gone on to do a B.A. at Central Saint Martins and launch a ceramics business. Fatimata is a globe trotter traveling all over the Diaspora, Europe and the UK and her work and writings reflect a global perspective. She has created a beautiful collection of chocolate boxes inspired by the Mayan pyramids as well as tin can inspired ceramics that were created for you to think about eating habits of various cultures. Fatimata is an amazing resource and designer and I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future. To learn more about her work visit Fatimata Ly. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 24: Meet Aline Matsika Aline is a NY based interior designer and former owner of Concept Ethnic, a Paris based design boutique. I heard of Aline from friends based in Paris that had told me about her moving to the states and opening up shop in NY. Her shop was based in Soho until about a year and a half ago when she closed. Aline continues her design career in interiors creating contemporary spaces with both French and African inspiration. She has a way of blending Kuba cloth into almost any design style in an effortless and modern way. She covers pillows to French settees and chairs creating timeless and stylish accents. Her reupholstering of antique French furniture in Kuba cloth or raffia from Senegal is inspiring as well as her ability to infuse ethnic artificats into her rooms. Aline makes it easy to see how easy you can blend African textiles and accents into any room. To see more from Aline check out her portfolio on her website. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 26: Meet Kim Myles Kim Myles an interior designer and HGTV show host came under my radar after winning reality design series, HGTV’s Design Star. I followed that season to see how my fellow New Yorker and former hairdresser would combine color texture and personality to win the judges over. Her smile is infectious and her design ideas were amazing and aspirational. Kim’s key is color she always surprises you with her selections that at times may seem unthinkable but always work in the space. She also has a knack for playing with textures and layering that add depth and a bit of bohemian rhapsody (if you will) to her spaces. Her show Myles of Style updates spaces that have very little character or color and breathes life into them without breaking the bank, offering up ideas that we can use in our spaces as well. The show airs on Firdays at 4/3c and for those who would like to play catch up you can see past shows here. To learn more about Kim check out both her HGTV site and personal site. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 27: Meet Leydon Lewis Leydon Lewis, the founder and creative director of Leydon Lewis Design Studio in Brooklyn is a triple threat. Not only is Leydon an interior designer but also a fine artist and furniture designer. Leydon was one of the designers who participated in the first African American showhouse “Harlem United Show House” in 1998 and hasn’t stopped. He designed a space in the 1999 Kips Bay Showhouse as well as countless projects that include luxury residences, public corridors and model apartments. As a fine artist he exhibited in the Harlemworld: Metropolis and Metaphor show at the Studio Museum. Leydon also designs custom cabinetry and built-ins as well as as one of a kind sculptural furnishings. Leydons’ work is classic and quite modern with punches of color that pay homage to his Trinidadian heritage. To learn more about Leydon and to check out his beautiful portfolio of work visit his website. www.designincolorblog.com

Day 28: Meet Henry Mitchell Henry is a Brooklyn based interior architect, celebrated by New York Magazine as one of New York’s 100 “best” interior designers. He started his career at Jack Travis Architects and launched his design firm Henry Mitchell Interior Architecture in 1995. His work has since been featured in national publications, coffee tables books as well as on Oprah where he showed off his 750 sq ft home and design solutions for living in a small space. Henry’s approach to design is modern with classic design touches. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Henry in one of the beautiful homes that he designed for a mutual friend, and his attention to detail and ability to bring out the personality of the homeowner is amazing. The home he designed will be in the upcoming design issue of NY Magazine. Henry is currently revamping his website and can be reached at info@hmia.net www.designincolorblog.com

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