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Giving Our A&D Community Some Shine



Yes, we do exist!


100 Outstanding Individuals In Architecture and Design

URBAN ZEN By Donna Karan


“If the future doesn't come toward you, you have to go fetch it.” – Zulu Proverb

Dear Friends, I am writing this letter to you out of much trepidation because I have been so nervous about not delivering the most crucial issue that LRM magazine has produced to this date, as it is the premise of why LRM was created (to profile brilliant designers of color in design). I hope that I have done you well. Twenty years ago design was an elitist, closed profession and to a degree it still is. Though many will agree that the landscape for minorities has vastly improved others maintain that we still have a very long way to go. But rather than complain about the circumstances dealt to those of us who had the courage to pursue careers in architecture or design, I will offer that though the road less traveled is harder, it will offer great benefits to those who come behind us. Is that not a legacy worth championing? We are certainly in an exciting position.

Allow yourself to reflect for a moment, back to when you were a student in design school where you were the only minority in your class or quickly fast forward to the last time you were at a industry function and you were perhaps the on practitioner of color at the event. To facilitate an improvement in our presence within this field, we must take responsibility for ourselves and become more active participants rather than reluctant spectators. It is time for us to leverage our knowledge and share our wisdom with our youth and emerging professionals by mentoring them as they enter this field. Come on, together we can do anything! Shalom Y’all…

The disproportion of our presence within the architecture and design industry comes from our youth not having access to the field. Due to tight state budgets, art programs in our school systems have been either drastically cut or eliminated. We must change that.

Editorial Nods 12-Letter From the Editor 20- The Art of Zulu 24- African Genius: Egypt’s Pyramids 38- Model Citizen: Magalie Dresse 40- Design Darling: Venus Williams 43-Pure Luxury: Exploring Oprah’s Santa Barbara Library 50- Things to Cop: Aid to Artisans 63- Real Talk: Minority Unemployment 70- The Legendary: David Rice of OBD 82- Blogs We Love: 12 Great Bloggers 94- Design TV: Nine Personalities 114- Tastemakers: 30 Premiere Interior Designers of Color-Yes, 30! 180- Movers & Shakers: 8 Amazing Furniture & Accessory Designers 214- Mavericks: 12 Great Architects 238-The Trade: 10 Fantastic Builders

230- Changing the Game: Design Educators

Special Thanks to our newly appointed Editorial Consultant, Keir Worthy of OBD

253- Dreamscapers: Three Brilliant Landscape Architects 259-Documentaries of Note: Brooklyn Boheme


Padma Plantation


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The Art of Zulu Zulu Girl, a Tretchikoff portrait in repose, suggesting the essential spirit of Africa, captures the grace, dignity and an ageless humility it women. Available at Fabulous Zulu Love Train collection of telephone wire lamp finials from Hillary Thomas Design available through

Wired Contemporary Zulu Telephone wire Baskets by David Arment and Marisa Fick-Jordaan S/C Editions, Santa Fe 2005 Distributed by Museum of New Mexico Press Zulu doll and baskets available at

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Africa is a sizable continent with a multitude of cultural traditions. The sum total of native African architecture is resultant from indigenous African empires and states, among imported influences from various European, Midwestern and Asian societies. The architecture is influenced by Moorish invasions, Egyptian pharaohs and all they engendered, nomadic foragers, hunter-gatherers, stable agricultural societies, desert dwellers, and ongoing tribal identities and conflicts, diverse religions, witchcraft and more. Much of native architecture came from less profound sources. Attempts at documenting the history of African architecture and understanding its influence on American architecture have resulted in ethnographic interpretations that have overlooked an amalgam of cognitive, cultural, and symbolic factors that provide implicit clues to African American architecture. An architectural tradition heavily influenced by Africa must not be seen in a vacuum, but rather should be seen as a kaleidoscopic vision, in which diffusions manifest in numerous complex forms but all pale to the wonders of the pyramids. It is unfortunate that if we look to popular culture, one would be led to believe that Egyptians were not black at all. However, Egypt was not a town in Switzerland nor a suburb of Rome. It was as place rich of ingenious ideas and irrefutable excellent execution.

When one turns to see African traits in American architecture before and after slavery, it becomes even clearer that the focus must be on special sensitivities. In terms of materials, techniques, and design, severe limits were placed on African American architects. Within the range of these limitations there exists an undisturbed African American architectural tradition, one that has its roots in continental Africa architectural expressions. Just as modern architectural marvels are identified with contemporary individual architects by name, so may indigenous structures be identified with individual artisans or groups of likeminded individuals. There are many African artifacts, survivors in architecture. There are less common ones that represent the essence of African architectural tradition in a historical and cultural context and therefore warrant the most attention. The indirect retentions of African building tradition are subtle and pervasive. For example, plantation owners early in American history understood the power and symbolism possible in architecture and thus any attempt by enslaved artisans to draw upon African heritage was stifled.

“All of the pyramids of Africa, not only those in Egypt, but those in Sudan, and the two in northern Ethiopia (which the British and the Berlin Conference removed and put into southern Sudan), where built thousands of years before there was an Adam and Eve mentioned anywhere on the planet. When you get to the birth of Abraham, at the same time when the Africans along the Nile are already in their thirteenth dynastic period, there is no Adam and Eve, because the Hebrews gave you the concept of Adam and Eve. Most of you believe that it has something to do with facts, rather than theocracy.� -Yosef ben-Jochannan The African Contribution to Technology and Science

“I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There scarcely ever was a civilized nation of that complexion, nor even any individual, eminent either in action or in speculation. No ingenious manufacture among them, no arts, no sciences.�

David Hume, Scottish Philosopher This racist view could not be further from the truth.

Africa's history did not begin in slavery, and despite the peculiarity, horror, and duration of enslavement of Africans, slavery occupies a minor timeframe in the 120,000 years of African history. In the last 50 years much has been done to combat the entirely false and negative views about the history of Africa and Africans, which were developed in Europe in order to justify the Transatlantic Slave Trade and European colonial rule in Africa that followed. This sentiment may have transcended ancient times leading many to believe that today’s creative professionals of color lack the aptitude to contribute anything significant to design. Fortunately, fact always trumps fiction every time.

“Until we are no longer a novelty.” -Mme. Pierre-Louis

a dream realized

This fabulous en suite is from the lovely Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita , the only hotel in the world located within the natural extravagance of prehistoric caves! The worldclass hotel characterizes the most well-preserved example of a town where thousands of caves have been used for centuries as dwellings, churches and even palaces. This room embodies the textures of the natural stone found in Egypt. Photo from

June Ambrose has just come off her latest job as the wardrobe stylist for The X Factor, and she’s not slowing down one bit. The stylist to the stars has her own show, Styled By June, premiering in March on VH1.

Add a touch of whimsy to your home with some vintage inspired Sunburst Mirrors $79-$149

AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery

Magalie Dresse, owner of Caribbean Craft, employs over 349 Haitian Artists. Her company has created jobs for hundreds of local artisans, providing income for over 500 families in 2008. Her efforts has helped Haitian artisans gain a sense of dignity and empowerment by becoming wage earners, either independently or as in-workshop artisans. After so many of these artisans lost their homes, Magalie and her husband Joel opened their doors, setting up tents and temporary housing and workspace for hundreds of artisans. She is truly an angel.

Oprah Winfrey, right, walks with Magalie Dresse, Haitian business owner of Caribbean Craft, a workshop and store, during a visit to Caribbean Craft in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 2011.

design darling Tennis superstar Venus Williams launched V-Starr Interiors in 2002, with instant success. Her name-brought recognition to the company amid high expectations, where now looking back ten years later one has to admits that she obviously proved the naysayers wrong. Having garnered commission to design a new model residence at luxury oceanfront condominiums, her firm’s successful progress is a reflection of her growth as from entrepreneur to interiors expert.

One would think that with her having won Wimbledon five times, taking home three Olympic gold medals and being constantly being ranked the number one women’s tennis player in the world that her transition into the world of design would be nothing short of a “cake walk” but Venus has definitely paid her dues by making sure that she meets with each

and every one of her clients, pulling long hours in consultations and closing every single deal. She is indeed a shrewd business woman min every sense of the word. Her Jupiter-based design firm, touts a four-person design team responsible for creating the numerous high-end interiors for residential, commercial and institutional properties, from Howard University to the set of the Tavis Smiley news program. Venus continues to be a top player despite turning 30 last year which is ancient in tennis terms. She is the oldest player ranked in the top 20. She designs her own clothing line, Eleven, and sells it through the Gilte Groupe. Other endorsement partners include: Wilson, Electronic Arts, Kraft, Ralph Lauren and Tide. Williams owns a small interest in the Miami Dolphins with sister Serena.

pure luxury

The interior designers that Oprah chose to do her guest wing of her Santa Barbara estate. She enlisted her hairdresser/ interior designer and confident of twenty years, Andre Walker to decorate the space along with his partner of 10 years David Simmons (pictured on the right). As you can imagine, only the sky was the limit regarding making her space as cozy as possible, so we here at LRM magazine thought that we’d take a look at what this design dynamo pair did. If a space is indicative of the character of a client then one would certainly agree that Oprah’s warm spirit has been can be seen from every elaborate window treatment down to the books positioned on the shelves of her comfy library. The English country feel lends itself to a touch of glamor from the chandelier from Paul Ferrante down to the cast iron fireplace .

Andre Walker and his partner of 10 years David Simmons.

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Courtesy of

The subtle play on his use of red from the pillows carries the eyes to the flowers on the mantel is quietly genius.

The shelves directly above the sofa, however, Oprah has placed first editions of Pulitzer Prize winners, including 1948's Tales of the South Pacific, by James A. Michener, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz, awarded the prize in 2008.

Things to Cop

Aid to Artisans provides business training, product development, and market access to handcraft groups located in developing countries.

Aid to Artisans (clockwise) hand painted wooden plates from Colombia; wire baskets, $95 for 25” diameter basket, $120 for 35” diameter basket; papier mache bowls in blue and red handmade in South Africa. Set of 4, 2 of each pattern. 5 1/2″. $38 USD.

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lest we forget Thomas Day was a free black man whose furniture became popular throughout the state of North Carolina in the 1820s. He worked in Milton, N.C., as a cabinet maker to the wealthy. In 1848, he purchased the former Union Tavern and turned it into his home and workshop.

Thomas Day, probably the most famous black furniture craftsman, was born 1801 to free black parents in Dinwiddie County, southeast Virginia. His father was John Day, a farmer and skilled cabinetmaker whose products apparently were well-received in the local market as well. According to the letters of John Day, Jr., discovered in 1995, John Day Sr., was the illegitimate son of a white South Carolina plantation mistress and her black coachman. Records show John Jr., naming R. Day of South Carolina as his grandfather. His mother, Mourning Stewart, was the daughter of free mulatto Thomas Stewart, who owned a large and successful plantation in Dinwiddie County on which he owned slaves. John Day Sr. married Mourning Stewart around 1795-1796, were they had two sons: John Day Jr. and Thomas Day. As a result John Jr. and Thomas were afforded an education uncommon for free blacks in the South. It is believed that they attended school with white students in Sussex County, Virginia. They both were very literate and well-educated which is obvious from the correspondence they left behind.

Emma Rich stands beside the Thomas Day sideboard at her home that has been in her family since the mid-1800s. The sideboard and top was to be featured at a Thomas Day exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, but due to its size, age and appraised value, the museum didn’t want to assume the liability.

Thomas Day Pine Canopy Bed

Day's economic and social position was unique. He was a free black, but owned slaves. Though his social position was below whites, he did have white apprentices. During a time that only whites were allowed to sit on the main floor of the Milton Presbyterian Church, except for Thomas Day and his family. He and Aquilla were accepted as full members of the church in 1841. The pew in which he sat, he made. And, it was on the front row, not in the back. Local tradition has it that Thomas Day traded building pews for the church in return for his family's being able to sit in the main portion of the sanctuary. This is, however, doubtful as it was not his style. Thomas and Aquilla were accepted as full members of the church, and it is possible that he was an elder. Day owned his place of business and residence, adding a brick addition to contain his workshop at the historic Union Tavern in Milton. He became a major stockholder in the local branch of the North Carolina Bank and owned property beyond Milton. Given the time in which he lived, that was remarkable. He even carried a standard line of furniture in Milton and built custom furniture for the elite. He did work for governors, universities, and not just furniture. He created mantles, stairs, window and door frames, newel posts, and other decorative and functional trim. His operation became one of the largest furniture/cabinetmaking businesses in North Carolina, at one time employing twelve laborers. His legacy carries on today through the Thomas Day Education Project in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Thomas Day (1801 – 1861) was a 19th-century free African-American craftsman and a founding father of the modern Southern furniture industry.

“We don’t sell clothes, We dress people.”

Bronzeville Boutique by Lady Mocha, 4259 S. King Drive, Chicago, IL 60653

building the green collar economy Oakland activist, Van Jones, started visiting Marin when he was burned out from years of running programs to find jobs for kids fresh out of jail. What he saw, he says, was a form of "eco-apartheid." In Oakland, his neighbors, working hardscrabble jobs when they could find them, had to deal with the sort of industrial pollution that brings asthma attacks. In pristine Marin, just a few miles away, a whole new economy was being built around organic food, solar-panel installation and the like. His goal was to see that if the two sides of the Bay could be brought together, the economy of both would benefit. The end result became Green For All, the pressure group that Jones leads. It's dedicated path to prosperity" for blue-collar workers, training them for jobs and skills that will be in demand when the U.S. retrofits itself as a low-carbon economy. "We can beat pollution and poverty at the same time," Jones says. "Fighting climate change is the closest thing to a full-employment program we've ever seen in this country."

“Green for All� puts Jones in the frontline of a necessary change in the green movement. In the past, environmentalism in the U.S. has been a mainly white and white-collar phenomenon, one that had little resonance among the working class and minorities. Timber workers thought that greens valued the spotted owl over their livelihoods; on car assembly lines, criticism of fossil fuels won you no favors. But Jones points out that recent environmental catastrophes in the U.S. have hit the poor hardest. It was African-Americans in New Orleans who suffered most from Hurricane Katrina, and it's Latino farmworkers in California who lose out when wildfires burn their homes.It won't be easy to show members of America's working class that a green economy can benefit them too. Old prejudices die hard. The symbol of environmental concern, says Jones, can't be a polar bear, fighting for its habitat, it has to be a Rosie the Riveter figure, making wind turbines in Detroit.

real talk It is clear that the disastrous effects of the economy knows no race, ethnicity or class. Titans of various industries have been reduced to pauper status, working families are out of work, food, healthcare and a home, and people of all backgrounds are watching their life’s work eviscerate before their very eyes. However, we are all players in the game of life, where if the job market within the interior design industry was likened to a casino, there would only a few lucky bailout winners, but most of us would crap out, the way the casino operators intends for it to work. However there is hope. Now is the time to redefine ourselves and pursue our passions relentlessly.

But at the same time, it’s a little more complicated than that. While “official” unemployment nationwide is high at around 10 percent (far more when you factor in all of those people who are underemployed or have given up all hope of finding a job), unemployment is and always has been much higher in Black and Latino communities. But the gap has widened during this recession. In fact, Black unemployment is nearly double that of Whites, while Latinos are unemployed at a rate one-third higher than their White counterparts. The situation is particularly chronic in New York City, where there are 80,000 more unemployed Blacks than Whites, even though there are about 1.5 million more Whites than Blacks in that city. One explanation is that people of color are the folks last hired and first fired, or that their communities have a lower level of entrepreneurship. Some people will be quick to attribute the difference in employment levels to differences in education levels. Their argument is that people of color are lazy and not so smart, and don’t apply themselves. But among those with a college education, as the Economic Policy Institute reported, Black unemployment in recent months has doubled that of Whites. Perhaps institutional racism can explain some of the difference in unemployment levels. As James Koch, an economics professor at Old Dominion University noted, “When the economy is at or near full employment, employers don’t have any choice. They have to hire the people that are available. Right now, employers can be fairly choosy. They may well choose not to hire African Americans.” Sad, but a cruel reality. This notion is worth exploring, at a time when civil rights foes have pushed back against the age of Obama. In the name of “reverse discrimination,” they have declared that affirmative action and other diversity programs are a thing of the past. The unqualified minorities are taking all of the good jobs from the everqualified and ever-capable White men, they say.

Blacks have the White House, after all, so what more do they want? Inclusion. But the solution to inclusion lies actually within entrepreneurship. Where there is talent one must create their own opportunity to survive. As practitioners of color we have to face the reality that we can not advance without supporting each other. We can not be afraid to call upon one another when our workload his too heavy or we encounter an area where we are not so well-versed or “well-equipped” to assist a client. We should never be afraid to pay it forward because good karma means good business. In a majority-minority city such as New York, where African Americans, and Latinos are seldom found as firefighters, some professions apparently are the functional equivalent of a family business. It seems more than mere coincidence that unemployment among people of color has skyrocketed. Some would argue that the gatekeepers who make the policies that create a mostly Black and Brown prison population, and a mostly White legal profession, decide to fill the special education classes and foster care systems with children of color, who will, in turn, fill the prisons. Others would add that those same people also decide to have a panel discussion on a cable news program, and the topic is the nation’s first Latina Supreme Court justice, yet none of the panelists are Latinas. But the fact is that most of them lack diversity, in a nation that is becoming more and more diverse by the day. Often, their goal is to maintain a system where everyone looks the same, like the good ole days. That is why steps are needed to ensure that the game is not rigged, as it has been for so long, so that we do not revert to the nation’s default settings of power and privilege. In order to ensure that it is not we must become active participants within the design community as a whole by joining organizations like ASID, OBD, NKBA and IIDA to get our voices heard. Which organization are you reppin’ from within?

(Winston Churchill)


DesigNation over the years has rapidly become the United Nations (UN) of design conferences bringing together graphic, industrial, fashion, interior, architectural, product, advertising, broadcast and multi-media designers from all over the globe. OBD offered the first conference in October 1994. after recognizing the emergence and cross-pollination of disparate design disciplines. Designers of color attend the conference to discuss future trends, the African-American design aesthetic, issues of visibility and invisibility, provide a platform to showcase designers work while acknowledging historical accomplishments of pioneering designers of color in general. The goal is to ultimately engage the entire design community to explore more diversity in practice, scholarly pursuits and recognition.

October 25-28, 2012

Reserve your tickets today.

the legendary

LRM had the distinct pleasure of sitting down and talking with Mr. Rice last month and to our delight we discovered that not only is he a true renaissance man but a true leader with a plan. If you asked anyone in the know who David Rice is, one would say that David is a true renaissance man, in every sense of the word. As a Detroit native with roots deeply embedded in the South, one would surmise that it is because of those roots seemed so embedded in nature that its no wonder that he ended up in the world of design. As a young lad, David grew up helping his father fix cars which lit the fuse for the ingenuity that propelled him through school and later in his professional life. After “slam-dunking” his entrance exam to get into the internationally renown College for Creative Studies, (CCS) in Detroit, Michigan, he went on to earn a full scholarship. From there he landed an opportunity to intern for a prestigious firm where he left with the eternal fire in his belly to work for himself. His posthumous post graduate studies in marketing which had a curriculum emphasis on entrepreneurial development led him to completing

the Harvard University Entrepreneur Development Program. Just saying it puts one out of breathe. However, it is the culmination of his rich history that compelled him creating The Organization of Black Designers (OBD), the first national organization dedicated to addressing the unique needs of African American design professionals and other people of color. Founded in 1990, with the intent to enlighten corporate design professionals about the available pool of minority talent to help increase the number and visibility of African American designers hired. His dream was to endorse the benefits of diversity while supporting the economic empowerment of his constituents. Its membership has grown from 3,500 design professionals to its current numbers of over 8,700 members nationally. Its members disciplines range from graphic design/ visual communications, interior and industrial design to product and fashion design He is indeed the “Father of the Movement.”

culture alert

Kuba fabric is woven from raffia-palm leaf fibers. The swaths are traditionally worn as ceremonial dance skirts, called ntchaks, by the Kuba people of the democratic Republic of the Congo. The tightly woven textile is made of strands from raffia palm leaves. Raffia strands are also interwoven between the warp and weft to create intricate geometric patterns. Kuba cloth comes in two styles. One has a rich and velvety pile; the other has a flat weave will little or no pile. Vegetable dyes are commonly used on raffia threads before being embroidered onto finished cloth to create patterns such as rectangles, lines, creative curvatures, and circles. It is used for ceremonial skirts, wall hangings, or mats for sitting and sleeping.

The Kuba people of Zaire, formerly the Belgian Congo, live in the fertile lands of equatorial Africa between the Kasai and Sankuru Rivers. They compose a politically and socially complex multiethnic Kingdom consisting of 18 distinct sub-groups, each having a history and identity of its own. These groups have been an organized Kingdom since the 17th century but have lived in South Central Zaire much longer. Their unity can be explained by participation in a common culture and by the Bushong's domination of the whole group. The Bushong group has the largest population of the 18. Artistically, the Kuba surround themselves with a sophisticated vocabulary of elaborate decorative patterns which are found in architecture, basketry, carved objects, female body scarification and textiles. To western eyes, the embroidered and appliqued raffia textiles are simultaneously bold and intricate, dramatic and subdued, as well as asymmetrical and balanced.

Paragon Kuba Cloth by Tribe, African Mark Abrams Art (Set of 4) available at for $348.

editor’s pick

Immerse yourself in the safari experience without leaving the confines of your home! This splendidly illustrated book features photographs of safari animals as well as romantic terraces with views, airy interiors decorated with natural materials and artifacts, and more - the very best of Africa's most beautiful lodges, homes, and guest houses. Available at

LRM is proud to present its readership Some of the brightest talent we have in interior design and architecture to date. While some of their names may be familiar , others are surely ringing bells globally. But don’t just take our word for it.

Kimberly Ward of Like any other form of self-expression, interior decorating requires an intimate knowledge of color, line, shape, texture, perspective, and the other elements of design. Amateurs and professionals alike familiar have chimed in to give their take on what constitutes a well-designed room of a particular aesthetic within budget has guided millions around the world. The beauty of this phenomenon is that many of the minority bloggers happen to be accomplished designers in their own right offering readers options on finding something unique and personal to make their homes beautiful. Creativity does not exist in a vacuum, and those in need of advice and ideas can now simply head to the internet to discover exactly what they want at their leisure.

blogs we love We scoured the web looking for the best interior design and furniture blogs, and here is what we found. From multi-writer blogs like (referenced above) to more personal fare like, here is our take on the top 12 blogs (plus a few honorable mentions) that LRM thinks is the cream of the design crop. Far more interior design blogs exist beyond those mentioned here, of course. Please use those listed here as excellent resources, but understand that the value of the unlisted others as well but this is certainly a wonderful introduction

New York City based decorating expert Nicole Gibbons launched So Haute in January 2008 and quickly established herself as an authority on all things home, garnering recognition in top media outlets such as HGTV, TV One, House Beautiful, Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, The Washington Post, Apartment Therapy, Lonny, The Nest, and on countless design blogs.

California interior decorator, Typhanie Peterson, of Shoebox Décor loves entertaining and making beautiful things. She says that she’s “no Martha Stewart but …[is]pretty handy with a glue gun.” Her lovely blog explores all things cheap and chic.

If you want you want great humor and Some fabulous tips on decorating then you must check out Courtney Lake’s marvelous Courtney Out Loud. This Stanford grad knows a thing or two about living lavishly or at least decorating your home like you do. And his tablescapes‌to die for!!!

After working in the transportation industry for several years, Danielle Gray r decided to pursue her passion for interior design and enrolled at Harrington College of Design. She later went on to work as a sales associate at several highend furniture and home dÊcor showrooms and served as a design assistant to interior designers in Chicago. In 2011, she launched Gray Livin’ where she blogs about interior design and offers design services to clients in Washington, DC. She also founded Hues in Design, an online group that promotes diversity in interior design for African-Americans and other designers of color.

Nicole White, author of LiveLaughDecorate owns a boutique interior design and event planning company in Miami, Florida. When she isn’t writing her fantastic blog she is busy transforming her clients’ homes into the wonderful sanctuaries.

Design -enthusiast, LaKeitha Duncan is a devoted stay at home wife and mother of three boisterous handsome boys. She is the author of the blog Home to Three Duncan Boys where she shares various tips on thrifting and refurbishing vintage furniture pieces . As if raising three boys wasn’t enough, Lakeitha runs her own business, Swoon Worthy Interiors, and is part of the editorial team of the new online lifestyle magazine House of Fifty. Love her! (In our Oprah singing voice.)

Atlanta-based interior designer, writer, and philanthropist, Erika Ward worked in the design-build industry as an accountant before turning her passion for interior design into a successful business. Named by Atlanta Tribune as having one of the top design firms of 2011, her work has appeared in the AtlantaJournal Constitution, Atlanta Home Improvement Magazine, and on In addition to providing decorating advice and inspiration on her internationally renowned blog, she is also called upon for her design advice for publications such as,, Heart and Soul Magazine, and Atlanta Tastemaker Magazine.

Carolina bred designer, artist & blogger, Niki McNeill is passionate about great design & outstanding artwork. You may know me as Creative Director of SingleBubblePop blog, an art and design inspiration blog.

Beth Diana Smith, owner of Diana Studios and author of My Chic My Way describes herself as an entrepreneur who is [simply] following her passion for design and love of blogging. She considers herself a purveyor of beautiful things based on her shoe collection, jewelry and housewares.

Self-described dream-chaser with a “hawk-eye� for vintage furniture and specialty in refinishing, Dayka Robinson, is a gifted interior designer known creating alluring & refined interiors featuring the vintage pieces she breathes new life into. The California native has been running a successful blog since 2009.

Designer and Color Expert Kelly Porter has been helping clients transform their homes and businesses for over 10 years. Her designs brilliantly combine color, comfort and style into an aesthetic she calls "Color Fusion.“ In addition to owning Porter House Designs, Kelly is the 'Living Style' columnist for Sherwin-Williams' website, and she's a contributor to, a popular home design website. Kelly also works as a consultant for CertaPro Painters, and she publishes Color Sizzle, an internationally recognized design blog..

design tv Helen Bailey

Helen Bailey offers a fresh approach to the decorating and lifestyle industry. In November 2006 she was the force behind Chicago’s Urban Livin’ Harvest at Home Show giving inspirational home decorating and entertaining seminars. Now, she is the Editor-In-Chief of a chic new publication called Urban Livin’ Home, Bailey has created her own media outlet to help urban readers create exceptionally beautiful, yet comfortable, living spaces. Urban Livin’ Home premiered in March 2006 and is already considered a “must-read” among urban and suburban dwellers alike.

When Essence magazine wants to spotlight a fabulous bathroom, or Ebony magazine needs decorating tips for the holidays or wedding layouts; they all give a shout-out to decorating dynamo, Helen Bailey. Her national TV show, “Urban Livin’ with Helen Bailey” had viewers from the US, London and all the way to Africa. It aired three seasons on Viacom’s BET/Centric and BET International Networks. Since then she has spread her message via the airwaves on Clear Channel’s radio with her “Make Your Home a Haven” spots.

Tanika Ray

HGTV personality, Tanika Ray, was born in Washington, D.C. but raised in Los Angeles. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater Arts from Spelman College in Atlanta and studied theater at New York University. She began her career as a professional dancer with various artists such as Will Smith, the Backstreet Boys, Brandy Norwood and late singer Aaliyah before venturing into acting.

She guest starred on a variety of shows like The Wayans Bros., Living Single, NYPD Blue and Family

Matters before appearing on music oriented shows such as Soul Train, Motown Live and the short-lived late night show, Vibe. Not bad, huh? Needless to say, since she has taken the helm of Design Star one can argue that it has brought a “freshness� to the show that it somewhat lacked in the past. We salute her for representing us well on-screen and off.

Lauren Lake

Former HGTV host of Spice My Kitchen, Lauren Lake is a true renaissance woman. This powerhouse attorney and motivational speaker has her own design firm, L.Style Design Studio in Ft. Lee, New Jersey. She has been up and running

since 2000, implementing designs, managing budgets and working with clients. That obviously has worked for her on “Spice Up My Kitchen,” as she’s more than just a host, she’s someone with an intimate knowledge of how to transform a space.

One of our favorite tastemakers of all time, Rashon Carraway started his popular blog “Mr. Goodwill Hunting� back in 2008 as a means to chronicle the thrift store finds that he used in makeovers around his apartment. Over time his discerning eye was able to assess the potential of worn vintage furniture and that gift landed him an opportunity to appear on the Nate Berkus Show.

Rashon Carraway

Producers saw his blog and invited him to join them for their House Proud segment., a portion of the show where Nate interviewed audience members that have done makeovers in their own homes. Nate was so impressed by Rashon that he invited him back on after the commercial break, something that is said to have never happened before. After that, Carraway was invited back to do a $100 makeover, then a $300 makeover and the rest, they say , is history. Check out his fabulous blog today.

Rashon has a large following of devout thrifters ho hang on his every word for decorating advice. He says, “There aren’t many African American males in the interior design industry and especially ones that have a bold sense of style while using re-purposed thrift-store finds.”

Kim Myles

A lot of great things has happened for Kim Myles , since she won HGTV’s ‘Design Star’ in 2007. She helmed her eponymous home makeover show ‘Myles of Style’ for three seasons, and continues to appear as a host and designer on shows like ‘HGTV’d’ and ‘America’s Biggest Yard Sale’. She is contributing columnist in House of Fifty magazine through her column “The Heart of Design”, where she explores the emotional connections between our decor and our sense of self. She developed an interest in interior design at an early age, thanks to her suburban childhood, along having earned an associate’s degree in performing arts from the Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts. She has worked as a hairstylist having said that “a designer’s

best friends are courage and imagination, and that her own secret weapon is her sense of humor.” This powerhouse has a bright future and we here at LRM magazine can not wait to see it unfold.

Kimberly Lacey

Television personality, painter, landscape designer and wardrobe stylist, Kimberly Lacey was born in Dumas, Arkansas. She is the project manager on HGTV’s Curb Appeal: The Block, where she shares her practical painting tips, techniques and demonstrations with viewers. Prior to joining the show, Lacy served as the lead painter on the HGTV series Designed to Sell. As celebrity stylist, Kimberly has worked with the likes of Wilhelmina and Elite, celebrity photographer Derek Blanks and publications Essence & Black Elegance. She owns and operates her own design and artisan paint company Anatomy of Design. Kimberly contributes monthly articles for Sister 2 Sister magazine's Home Improvement section. In her spare time, she continues to work as a celebrity wardrobe stylist and has styled for such national magazines as Black Elegance and Essence.

Danielle Fennoy

California native, Danielle Fennoy, was b Born into a family of design-conscious "fixer-uppers," born into a family of design-conscious "fixer-uppers“. She developed the understanding of how a client utilizes his particular space is the driving factor in the designer’s vision and conceptual approach before moving to New York for her formal training.

With a robust roster of demanding, high profile clients, Danielle capitalized on her exposure to a wide range of client styles and requests. Aware of her entrepreneurial drive, Danielle packed up her three years of agency experience to found her own design firm, Make Design.

After graduating with a Masters of Science from the Pratt Institute in 2004, she joined a Manhattan design firm, where she extended her work on user experience in exploring the importance of custom design, primarily focused on residential projects.

She is a regular guest on HGTVs popular series, Bang For Your Buck.

James Young

James Young is a licensed contractor and licensed electrician. A multi-skilled U.S. Army veteran who received two Army Achievement Medals, James is hardcore when it comes to home improvement. He has remodeled a number of homes and over 30 kitchens, bringing them from ugly to awesome. He has also worked on numerous large-scale commercial and residential projects as a licensed electrician before becoming a host of DIY Network’s I Hate My Kitchen. James loves tearing up kitchens and shows homeowners the latest designs and products, always coming up with innovative ways to remodel their kitchens without breaking the bank. His body of work on the show has been s fantastic!

Licensed landscape contractor and certified landscape technician Ahmed Hassan is known for delivering mindblowing landscapes. In fact, he insists that “a great home starts with a solid landscape.� He grew up in landscape gardening since his father was an established landscape gardener. He lovingly jokes about his knowledge having surpassed his dad a long time ago. But that is really where his love for it started: being outside, being able to utilize many tools, work with my hands similar to playing with my hands as a child, and building and creating and fixing things. Ahmed holds a certificate in ornamental horticulture and maintains a qualified applicator certification for pest control. One of the Bay Area's most sought-after young landscape designers, Ahmed has spent more than 20 years mastering the business of landscaping and home improvement. His forte is residential design, where he leans heavily on his experience and knowledge of plant identification and soils, as well as irrigation and maintenance. He runs his own landscape consulting, installation, maintenance and irrigation business but is known for sharing his invaluable expertise and candid humor on DIY Network as host of Turf War and Yard Crashers.

Ron Woodson has incredible “swag”. He is the co-owner of the boutique Woodson and Rummerfield's House of Design in Los Angeles, with Jaime Rummerfield. Their interior design clients include The House of Versace, John Travolta and Kelly Preston, Courtney Love, Christina Aguilera and many more. He was named one of House Beautiful’s Top Young Designers in 2005 .

Design phenom, Nikki Chu has also transformed interiors for Mo’Nique and Boris Kodjoe among others. Her line of luxury business accessories for women effortlessly blends design with function. The brand offers up a host of laptop bags, handbags, and accessories . The former advertising agency creative director got her start doing a good friend’s dressing room on the set of a TV show.She executed the allwhite interior on budget of only $3000.00 budget and her business quickly grew by word of mouth.

Michael Boyd

Louisiana born designer‘, Michael Boyd’s first influences were in the rich French history of New Orleans, living in New York City and extensive European holidays. Elements of each of these cultures and experiences can be detected in the layers of design found in each space he transforms. "I build rooms like wardrobes... carefully and specific to the bodies that dwell there.

Sandra Espinet a luxury interior designer based between San José del Cabo and Los Angeles. Her design work has been featured on the July 2010 cover of Architectural Digest Latin America, in Cosmopolitan, and on She is a regular onair guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio with Mario Bosquez and HGTV’s Bang for Your Buck, Halloween Block Party 2010, HGTV'd' and HGTV’s Celebrity Holiday Homes. She won the first place 2011 Design Excellence award winner and was voted in 2010 as the “California Home and Design Designer of the Year”.[She is launching Sandra Espinet, The Well Traveled Home, a line of furnishings, rugs and home accessories in 2012.

Often hailed by CNN and Time Magazine as "America's Best Interior Designer“ and highly revered as our editor’s “personal hero”, Sheila Bridges is truly s pioneer. Sheila has been a regular contributor on NBC's Today Show, has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and has been profiled in numerous national and international publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, O The Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Ebony, Country Living, Elle Décor, Interior Design, Vanity Fair, In Style, Essence, House & Garden, Town & Country, Traditional Home, Black Enterprise and is listed among Architectural Digest's Top 100 Designers.

Washington, DC based interior design Darryl Carter work can be described in two words, “simply divine”. It’s amazing that fifteen years ago he had a busy career as a lawyer when he decided to change course and open his own interiordesign firm. Since then he has established himself as a force to be reckoned with, transforming rooms in project after project with an effortless style grounded in a neutral palette and is listed among Architectural Digest’s Top 100 Designers. And rightfully so.

Robin Wilson’s firm concentrates on eco-friendly interior design elements and creating "eco-healthy homes She has worked in partnership with Hearst Magazines on the rebuilding of a home in New Orleans damaged by Katrina. She also designed the Lower Terrace of Esquire magazine's 2007 Ultimate Bachelor Pad in New York City and did the interiors for Good Housekeeping magazine's 2008 Green House in Harlem.

New York–based designer RoderickShade N. Roderick Shade landed his first interior design client while working as a window dresser in Manhattan, founded his firm in 1993 and has focused on urban areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago. In 2006 he moved his residence and his five-person practice to Harlem, a neighborhood whose storied past and bright future informed his 2002 book Harlem Style: Designing for the New Urban Aesthetic. He is also featured in Architectural Digest ‘sTop 100m Designers.

Award-winning interior designer, Cortney Sloane has an illustrious roster of clients who range from well-known personalities such as Queen Latifah, Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs,and JayZ to some of the world’s biggest corporations (Sony Music, Disney, BET, Viacom’s Spike TV offices and Essence Communications, and other key and historic projects such as Essence Homecoming 35th Birthday Showhouse, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “Roots, Rhyme & Rage” exhibit, UPN’s “America’s Next Top Model ” to name a few.

Courtney Sloane

Erin Shakoor’s stablished in 2001, Shakoor Interiors is an interior design and renovation firm, specializing in exclusive residences & boutique commercial design, historic & vintage restoration.

Internationally renowned interior designer expert Cecil Hayes has done it all. Besides writing multiple best-selling decorating books she is also listed in Architectural Digests Top 100 Designers.

Afiya H. Kumar owns the renowned Aha Designs in Chicago. Her work has been featured in Homes of Color magazine, the House & Garden section of the Chicago Tribune and numerous national publications.

Fellow South Carolinian, Joan Goodwin, is indeed an interior design veteran. She has over 18 years of intrinsic experience, operating her own interior design business known as Verandah Interiors, located in Columbia, South Carolina. Her work was featured in the Parade of Homes years 2000 and 2006, which ultimately made it to the pages of Designer Dream Home Magazine in April 2007 and the State Newspaper. She also won best interior design in the Parade of Homes, 2008, as well as the presitious Pennical Award.

New York–based interior designer and Yale graduate, Elaine Griffin, spent her twenties in Paris doing publicity for Céline and Givenchy; in her thirties she was an assistant designer to Peter Marino, the king of haute retail architecture. She opened her own design studio in 1999 and published a book, Design Rules: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming Your Own Decorator, in 2009.

Jamaican-born, Janice Palmer, is the first black designer ever selected to participate in the Decorators' Show House & Gardens in Atlanta. Her firm, Y Design, was featured in the Decorators' Show House & Gardens showcases known for promoting some of the finest interior and landscape designers in the southeast.

Trinidadian power-house, Keitha Brathwaite, grew up in New York before moving to Chicago with a multi-faceted view of the world before pursuing a career in design. Her firm, Contrast Design offers up its infinite talents to residential and commercial projects alike.

Lisa Turner, founder of Interior Obsession, has over 21 years of creative interior design and project management expertise to her firm and clients. She employs a philosophy from a love of color and respect for architecture. The dominant factor in her approach is to achieve the highest level of quality within budget and project scope, while expressing a sense of style that is both unique and appropriate to the project and its respective environment.

Emerging designer, Everick Brown has developed an impressive roster of interior design clients throughout the United States and abroad. His stylish studio and celebrated modern interior concepts illustrate his penchant for interior design and simple, elegant living. Based in Tribeca, New York, He is inspired by the global influences of all cultures. He enjoys collecting primitive artifacts and traveling around the world. He has been acknowledged by the New York Times, Essence Magazine and Black Enterprise, to name a few. He has been featured on television including, TLC, The Fine Living Network, News 12 Westchester and was even a finalist for HGTV's Design Star Casting, season four.

After working a decade in finance, both in Jamaica, and Wall Street, Anishka Clarke quit a lucrative finance job to pursue her passion, interior design. Now she is the principal designer of Ishka Designs, an boutique design firm located in Brooklyn, New York, with a satellite office in Kingston, Jamaica. She offers her clients unique interiors with a lean towards chic minimalism.

New York based, Brinton Brewster opened His boutique firm in 1997 with the goal of creating spaces that reflected the jet-set lifestyle of his affluent clientele and he hasn’t looked back since.

Ron Norsworthy acclaimed celebrity interiors expert Ron Norsworthy, who has styled many high-profile houses and even decorated the White House Christmas tree! He even has his own interiors and housewares line called N路HOME on QVC.

Cho Hee-sun, whose list of clients includes celebrities like actors Song Yoonah, Lee Beom-soo, Kim Eyeing-min and Lee Seung-yeon.

Shandra Ward’s extensive background in art and design compelled her to start her own design firm, Signature Design Studio. She has written on interior design, art, event design and styling for Bread & Butter Epicurean magazine and Visions of Art magazine. She is currently writing on design, art and lifestyle articles for and works closely with an independent architect/engineering firm

Denise Rush is licensed interior designer, practicing design and interior architecture in Chicago. In addition to being a design practitioner, Denise, is also a design educator. She is currently adjunct faculty at Columbia College Chicago, teaching interior architecture. She has also taught at Harrington College of Design, and the Art Institute.

Joy Moyler has worked with some of the most notable interior design firms and fashion houses: Ralph Lauren, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Kohn Pederson Fox (Interiors division), Swanke Hayden Connell, John Saladino, The Office of Thierry Despont and former head of the Interior Design Studio for Giorgio Armani. Her residential and commercial projects domestically and internationally have included: John Mayer Residence, Leonardo DiCaprio Residences, David Garrett Residence, Angelo Moratti Residences, Adrien Brody Residence, Harry Winston (Beverly Hills), Paine Webber (New York), The Mittal Residence at Kensington Palace Gardens (London), David Geffen Residence, Giorgo Armani Shops (Holt Renfrew/Canada) Chase Manhattan Bank, Price Waterhouse, Merrill Lynch to name a few.

Alma Nugent, CID, ASID, is a New York State Certified Interior Designer who has served as President of the New York Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) in the past. She has been profiled in The New York Times. In addition to upscale residences, Ms. Nugent ’s projects include health care facilities, corporate offices, and luxury yachts.

Texan-born Marian Akinloye owns a high-end interior design firm, M.A. Design Studio which specializes in creating dynamic yet sophisticated residential interiors and hospitality interiors. Her design style tends toward vibrant, refreshing color palettes that incorporate classical touches with a nod towards fun modern elements.

Celeste Alexander is the Principal of Celeste Alexander Spaces, a boutique residential and commercial interior design firm in Atlanta. With over 10 years of experience, she leads her team to meet the needs a vast array of clientele ranging from professional athletes, entertainers to corporate executives .

New York-based, Vincent J. Taylor, ASID, is a certified interior designer (CID) with New York State, a certified aging-in-place specialist (CAPS) with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and certified with the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). He has fifteen years of interior design experience, skills and technical knowledge, from working with tri-state home, co-op and condominium owners. In addition, he worked with co-op/condominiums boards, while an interior designer for a top NYC interior design firm. He also has experience as a interior designer from a residential retail design center. He is currently pursuing his LEED Green Associate accreditation.

Nicole Ingram, Allied Member ASID & Owner of Stacy Nicole Interior Design & Furnishings, Inc.

Marilyn G Russell is the President/Principal Designer of Design Magnifique, an up and coming interior design firm in Orlando, FL.

Maria Benson is the Owner of Nyla Simon and designer,Katherine Alford

movers & shakers Nyla Simone Home, is furniture gallery nestled in scenic Phoenix, Arizona. The upscale boutique offers affluent clientele a design process that is seamless, inspired and fun. That, combined with an endless array of fabric choices, made-to-order furnishings, and their white-glove delivery

Service, gives their clients everything they need to realize their vision for their homes. ''Founded'in'2007,'the'gallery'features'distinctive'fur niture'and‘accessories'from'quality'artisans'and'bou tique'vendors'from'around'the'world,'and'is'the'excl usive‘distributor'for'renowned'furniture'designer'an d'craftsman,'Arthur'Bailey.

Demi Adeniran, Owner of Fabrica Demi Adeniran of Fabrica graduated from FIT with a degree in marketing and styling. She became a fashion coordinator for Bloomingdale's but gravitated to the home department -- "The people there were so much nicer to deal with!" she explains. Though she didn't pursue sewing at FIT, Adeniran says, "I was the kind of person who could make a dress the same day for a party that night." So she didn't have to apprentice long with upholsterers' shops before she felt confident enough to open her own, making custom window treatments, bedding, and upholstery. Now she does a range of pieces: drapes in pin-striped wool or antique embroidered silk, a chic earth-tone duvet, a white cashmere window seat. Adeniran works on grand-scale jobs for Robert A.M. Stern and Annabelle Selldorf

Karen Brown is the owner of Savvy Chic - a antique furniture and vintage clothing boutique in Detroit's Eastern Market district.

Ludlow Beckett, owner of Yu Interiors, has been selling 50s and 60s vintage furniture and eclectic home accessories since 1999 in his store, nestled between a bodega and a beauty salon at 15 Greene Avenue (between Cumberland and South Oxford).

Steohanie Cipriani of Angel Thrift Shop Established in 1997, LESC's Angel Street Thrift Shops in Manhattan and Brooklyn raise funds to benefit programs for New Yorkers with substance abuse, mental illness, and HIV/AIDS.

le avant-garde Brooklyn-based carpet designer, Malene Barnett Brooklyn, has a multi-disciplinary background in textile arts, painting and illustration. Her unique carpets are inspired by her international travels, to places like Dakar, Mumbai and Kuala Lumpur, as well as my African-Caribbean heritage. I personally design each carpet to fit perfectly into your residential, commercial or hospitality environment. For more than a decade, I have been creating carpets for industry professionals and private label brands such as Nicole Miller, Martha Stewart, Nautica, Liz Claiborne, Nate Berkus and others. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Textile Surface Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Karen Young of Hammocks & High Tea offers a modern perspective on traditional, global textiles. Our hand crafted collection uses eco friendly fibers and water based, solvent free inks. Her childhood experiences in South America along with an intense combination of British and Caribbean influences are heavily fused within her sophisticated designs.

Design ingenue, A. Amani Bush’s a background in African American studies led her to taking her first pilgrimage to Africa in 2008 where her “connection” to the people of the land compelled her to pursue her passion in interior design, promoting the African aesthetic. We think she’s done a fantastic job. Wouldn’t you say?

Industrial designer, Stephen Burks founded his New York studio, Readymade Projects, in 1997, to develop ongoing projects with Aid to Artisans and the Nature Conservancy, as well as commercial commissions for clients like Moroso and Cappellini with the cultural identities of the developing world.

Our favorite “success story” , Jeanine Hayes of AphroChic Jeanine Hayes, founder and creative director of AphroChic. Jeanine started her professional life as a lawyer before pursuing her passion for modern soulful design by founding the AphroChic blog in 2007 and launching her own line of decorative pillows in 2009. Since then, Jeanine’s pieces have been featured in Lucky Magazine, and she was an online guest judge for HGTV’s Design Star.

les arts

Kara Walker a contemporary African American artist who explores race, gender, sexuality, violence and identity in her work. She is best known for her room-size tableaux of black cut-paper silhouettes. Her silhouette images work to bridge unfinished folklore in the Antebellum South, raising identity and gender issues for African American women

Chakaia Booker African American artist from Newark, New Jersey Known for creating beautiful pieces out of tires since the early 1990s. The tires are said to address African American identity. The black tires symbolize the strength of African American identity while the color nuances are meant to evoke the complexities of the black humans application.

Ceramica Ceilo

Ceramica Cielo Jungle Collection

le prodigy

Jamaican-born Andre Woolery had was a computer science major at Duke University when he decided to change course in his career. After completing his studies realized that he wanted to work in the world of advertising and soon after landed a job at New York advertising firm Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners [KBS+P] as an Assistant Media Planner. In time he assessed that the landscape of advertising was rapidly changing, he started taking night courses to mold his an interest in graphic design.

Fast forward to nine years later, Woolery is now the Associate Digital Director of KBS+P, representing clients such as TD Ameritrade and Kodak. His role involved finding interesting ways to use digital technology to build a build campaigns for different brands. Shortly thereafter, Woolery started to feel a huge void where he realized that despite the great pay he want to be someone who got “trapped by his paycheck.� So he decided to

save up some money and take a month of sabbatical to explore his artistic interests. Luckily, his efforts paid off because whatever source of artistic energy was that he tapped into he happened he hit the “genius” jackpot, creating bold and intriguing works of art out of nothing more than-yeah, you guessed it- thumb tacks! Over a very short period of time, Woolery created ineffable artwork of notable figures ranging from Jay-Z, and Kanye West to Jimi

Hendrix and President Obama. He even made political statements, tacking together a 100-dollar bill that read, “United Slaves of America.” These tactful images are part of a series he titled the 2011 Mixtape. In addition to these signature pieces, he also crafted paintings of Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Erykah Badu, and Bob Marley. Take a look at the fabulous pieces that he has now become celebrated for.

Dina Griffin was the 6th black woman to become a registered architect in the State of Illinois and was the 125th black woman registered in the United States. Out of the 233,000 registered architects in the United States, 1,858 are African Americans and only 278 of those are females, a number that number is astonishing low. So given this fact, she choses to use her notoriety to actively promote the field of architecture to students around the country through lectures and mentorship in hopes of introducing and attracting more minorities and minority women to the field. She always emphasizes the importance of being be licensed to students .

“So many minorities are not encouraged into subjects such as math and sciences,” says Griffin. “And, many elementary and middle schools don’t even introduce the study of architecture to students. I try to make myself available to such schools so that I can talk to the students about what I do, what it takes to become an architect and, with any luck, spark an interest. We need to get the numbers up in terms of minority architects.” Beyond that, lectures at universities targeting aspiring architects. Her discussions center on how one should best market oneself for their first job.

Mexican architect Fernando Donis won first prize for the Dubai Municipality and ThyssenKrupp Elevator, the competition for the design of a Tall Emblem Structure in Dubai was an outstanding success with 926 proposals submitted by architects worldwide to the international jury. He described his project entitled ‘Dubai Frame’ as a project that “captures the everchanging portrait of this city.”

Melvin Mitchell He was born in New Orleans, La. and educated in the public schools of the Watts section of South Central Los Angeles. Melvin entered Howard University in 1962. Upon graduation in 1967, Melvin worked as a community planner in the "War on Poverty" program during the era of black consciousness and urban rebellions in DC. In 1969, he entered the Master of Architecture program at Harvard and returned to DC in 1970 as an assistant professor at Howard. He became the head of the fledgling architecture school at Morgan State University in Baltimore in 1997.

Darrell A. Fitzgerald, FAIA, LEED AP, founder of the Fitzgerald Collaborative is the latest chapter in his 30 year architectural career in the Southeastern United States. Darrell served for 10 years as a Principal with Gensler Architecture Design and Planning Worldwide in Atlanta & Houston, and spent 20 years prior to that with the Texas firm of John S. Chase, FAIA, Architect.

Robert Traynham Coles received a Batchelor of Arts in 1951 and a Batchelor of Architecture in 1953, both from the University of Minnesota. In 1955, he completed a Master of Architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He opened his own firm, Robert Traynham Coles, Architect, P.C. in 1963, which he has managed since that date. It is the oldest AfricanAmerican owned architectural firm in New York State and the Northeast. In 1964, he brought Saul Alinsky and the Industrial Area Foundation (IAF) to Buffalo to organize the city’s poor. In 1968, he was awarded the commission to design the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Complex at the University of Buffalo’s Amherst Campus.

Diébédo Francis Kéré

Diébédo Francis Kéré was born in a small village called Gando, about 125 miles southeast of the capital city of Ouagadougou. As the oldest son of the village's chief, at age 5, he underwent a tribal ritual that scarred his face in a pattern of spokes, marking him as both a son and the sun

Philadelphia native , Phillip Freelon comes from a highly artistic background. His grandfather was a prominent impressionist painter during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and ’30s. His father, a sales executive, sketched and collected art. His mother was a schoolteacher, engaged in early childhood education. Even his wife, Nnenna, is a sixtime Grammy-nominated jazz singer. But above all, Phillip is the architect of record for the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, at the National Building Museum. In Washington, D.C.

Allison Williams FAIA, LEED AP, design director of Perkins = Will’s San Francisco office. She sets the design strategy for major projects of the office. In a career spanning more than 30 years of practice, her leadership in the design of large-scale civic, corporate, cultural and research facilities has influenced significant projects in the San Francisco Bay Area, nationally and internationally

Award-winning architectural designer Curtis J. Moody, FAIA has been involved in the design of projects that exceed several billion dollars in construction over the last 37 years. A winner of the prestigious Whitney M. Young, Jr. award as an outstanding African American Architect in the United States in 1992, Curt's designs have won more than 147 design citations, including 23 from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and 30 from the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).

Zevilla Jackson Preston grew up in NYC during the height of urban blight and abandoned buildings. This impacted her as an architect to the extent that she fully understands the social and economic issues that are key factors in exploring the physical space of urban communities Born and raised in the Harlem community, is principal of J - P Design, Inc., a Harlem based architectural firm. She was the former president of the New York Coalition of Black Architects (NYCOBA) and founder of The African American Architects Roundtable for Entrepreneurs. A graduate of the City College of New York School of Architecture, Ms. Jackson Preston has taught design studio at CCNY and has been recognized as both a CCNY and CUNY Woman of Excellence. Further, The City University of New York included her in its publication entitled The Best and Brightest of CUNY. Ms. Jackson Preston began her Architectural Career in 1990 working for various New York based architectural firms. A fast learner, Ms. Jackson Preston quickly learned the basics and founded J-P Design, Inc. in 1992. As the Principal of J-P Design, she has gained a reputation for creative and innovative design work. Zevilla Jackson Preston is responsible for the day to day financial, administrative and managerial operation of the office while developing all design work produced.

Her architectural philosophy rests on the thoughts of economists who believe that sustainable community development is about the development of the people themselves — not just the physical plant. Her sustainable design speaks to a process of design that recognizes the interconnection of the social, physical, and cultural vitality of a community and/or a specific client. She is committed to creating distinctly unique spaces that heighten the users everyday experience through the enhancement of each design with a cultural and art based aesthetic whether it be expressed through light, shade, form, volume or simply in plan. Beyond her dedication to her profession, Zevilla has remained steadfast in her commitment to the Harlem community through a host of volunteer efforts. She is a Board Member of both The Children's Art Carnival, a community based children's art school and The Harlem Commonwealth Council, a local development. Additionally, Ms. Jackson Preston is a member of the Municipal Art Society’s Planning Committee.

The late Ricardo Legorreta was the first Mexican to win the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale, advises the residents of Mexico City to make an effort to restore the “splendor” their city.

Norma Merrick Sklarek was the first Black woman to become a licensed architect in the United States. She was also the first Black woman honored by Fellowship in AIA. Her many projects include a new terminal, serving 10 million annual passengers, for Los Angeles International Airport. She recently past in February.

Education is a civil right. It is a basic and essential right that should be equally available to all members of society. Historically, however, some groups of people in the United States have not had the same kind of access to education as others. Before the Civil War, there was only two higher education institutions for black students. It wasn't until the mid-1960s that higher education--at predominantly white universities and colleges--became open to all students. Therefore, prior to that time, many colleges and universities were founded with the specific mission to provide educational opportunities for blacks in the US. These institutions founded before 1964 are now known as historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Her’s a list of the Top Ten HBCUs offering programs in architecture and design: 1. Howard University 2. North Carolina A&T State University 3. Hampton University 4. Alabama A&M University 5. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University 6. Tuskegee University 7. Southern University and A&M College 8. Texas Southern University 9. Morgan State University 10. Bennette College

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David Kirk, owner of DNK Architects, has devoted much of his spare time at the University of Cincinnati's Summer CAMP program that he runs mainly for eighth- and ninth-grade minority students to encourage them to pursue a career in architecture. Kirk teamed with three colleagues to launched the Cincinnati Architecture Mentoring Program (CAMP), it in 2005, targeting students with a passion for art and science. The week long camp begins every morning with design studio instruction led by teams made up of current architecture faculty and selected graduate students. Campers are led through free-hand drawing, model building, and engaging problem-solving exercises and will use these skills to complete a final "real-world" design project. Each day, local design professionals visit camp to share their experiences and talents, provide feedback to campers on their work, and encourage participants to pursue their dreams. It is ran in collaboration among local Cincinnati and regional institutions including the American Institute

States, of Architects (AIA) Cincinnati Chapter, the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) Midwest Region, Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), and the School of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Cincinnati (UC). The community service effort was initiated after discussions with local and national architectural professional groups that were alarmed by the lack of minorities in the industry. For example, of the 120,000 licensed architects in the United only 1.5 percent are minorities. Kirk said the numbers show that the African-American community has not been exposed to the work of architects. According to industry sources, starting salaries for new architects range from $40,000 to $50,000 a year.

Lawrence Sass of MIT Larry Sass conducts research in the area of rapid prototyping and its relationship to building construction. Current research projects are focused on the design fabrication using computer modeling and prototyping to be used as representational tools in the design process vs paper drawings.

our educators

Landscape Architect and Program Head of North Carolina A&T State University, Perry Howard was named Harvard Graduate School of Design's Top 100 Distinguished Alumni in 2000. He has served on numerous architectural projects, including site improvements at the Miami International Airport, a revitalization project of the West Palm Beach downtown district, resort development in St Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) and facility additions to sites in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, South America and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Joclyn Oats is the Associate Professor of Interior Architecture at Columbia College in Chicago. She received her BA in Interior Design from Michigan State University and her Masters of Architecture from University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently working on developing the sustainable design programs in Architectural Studies and Interior Architecture.

Barbara Laurie is an associate with Devrouax & Purnell and president-elect of the D.C. chapter of the AIA. She is a founding member of the Organization of Black Designers and professor of architecture at Howard University. As a devoted mentor she loves guiding “the young ones� while pushing them to realize their potential.

out and about Team Howard included Mark Watkins as faculty advisor and interior design students Naada Favitsou-Boulandi, Omar Tulloch, Karen Ennis, Alicia Johnson, Naomi Black, and Bretagne Blair.

A group of Howard University’s interior design students recently won the first Student Design House Competition sponsored by The Washington Design Center and the MADE: In America Foundation. The team competed against four schools from the Washington region: Anne Arundel Community College, James Madison University, George Washington University and Montgomery College. Howard’s undergraduate Interior Design program focuses on the function and quality of interior environments by considering aesthetic, technical, social and cultural aspects of the built environment. The program prepares students for further study in interior design and equips them with the skills and knowledge to serve as corporate design team members. The Howard University Art Department is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

“We were asked to pick a room in the Washington Design Center, identify a problem about the room’s design, figure out a solution, and then design it,” said Favitsou-Boulandi, a junior.

Photo by Lonnie C. Major

Above, Broadway Consolidated Companies Inc. President Margaret Garner whose company was the first black female-owned construction company to build a Wal-mart Store. Bottom right, Deryl McKissack, CEO of McKissack & McKissack, a successful architecture, environmental engineering and program-management firm.

Margaret Garner insists that everyone who gets to know her even a little knows that she doesn’t believe giving out “hookup’s”. Unfortunately, there is an expectation that black entrepreneurs should give away their products and services for free—or “hook a brother, sister, cousin or etc. up” because the patron is a friend or relative, and often just because both the business owner and the would-be patron are black. For years, she has contended against that notion having railed against those who constantly expect to be hooked up, telling them that they are doing a disservice to black entrepreneurs, creating a drag on the growth and profitability of small black-owned businesses, and putting a damper on the economic vitality of black communities. The following group of entrepreneurs are examples of what happens when hard work and unyielding determination meets. Little is known whether they gave away “hook-up’s” but they certainly were given a “leg up” at some point in their careers that spurned the success that we can now speak of.

Allen Warren says that AfricanAmerican home buyers in the Sacramento, Calif., area “almost automatically� seek out his company, New Faze Development, which has been in business 15 years and currently builds more than 100 homes annually.

Herman J. Russell of HJ Russell Construction,entered the construction business at age 16 when he bought a vacant lot in Atlanta and built his first property. A few years later, as an enterprising construction major at Tuskegee University, he established H.J. Russell Plastering Company and worked as a subcontractor. In 1959, the young Mr. Russell formed Paradise Management, Inc., a residential and commercial property management company with 18 apartment units which marked the beginning of his great success.

David Moody is President and Chief Executive Officer of C. D. Moody Construction Company, a commercial construction firm which Mr. Moody founded in 1988. Since 2000, Mr. Moody has also served as a director of Citizens Bancshares Corporation, a bank holding company traded on the OTC Bulletin Board, where he is a member of the Loan Committee, a member of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the Asset and Liability Committee.

Terry Phillips, of DC Corporation, broke into the construction business working alongside his father, legendary local contractor Denman Phillips, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. When his father retired in the 1980s, he and brother Denman Jr. went into business on their own. The company benefited from the city's minority business participation goals on city contract work.

Sundra L. Ryce is the President and CEO of SLR Contracting & Service Company, Inc., a general construction company headquartered in Buffalo, New York. SLR is a progressive and growing company that specializes in commercial construction, including new construction, renovation projects, construction management and design-build services. The company was established by Sundra L. Ryce in 1996 to provide quality work and exemplary customer service in the construction industry.

Nathaniel Spells Sr. was the first African-American graduate of Clemson University’s School of Architecture. He is president and chief executive officer of Construction Dynamics Inc., the largest African-Americanowned general construction and construction management firm in South Carolina.

P&J Contracting Company, Inc. is a wholly owned and operated African-American construction contracting firm. With regional offices and affiliates in six states, P&J Contracting Company, Inc. is a leading provider of demolition services, both small and large, in the public and private sector.

Construct Two Group (CTG) is a privately owned firm that specializes in “fast track” projects, having completed numerous high-profile jobs in both the public and private sectors. In the past two decades, Orlando’s CTG has grown from a small subcontractor to one of the largest AfricanAmerican-owned construction management companies in Florida.

Jamaican-born Courtney Gray, who has been in the United States since the mid-1980s, relocated to the Atlanta market to open Conyers, Ga.–based Gray Design in 1995, was able to build his business primarily to tap into the area's high concentration of well-to-do minority homeowners and buyers.

NuJak Companies, founded in 1992, provides construction management, general contracting and real estate services. It specializes in the design and construction of commercial facilities, including those for religious, educational and financial institutions. NuJak implemented an extensive technology enhancement strategy that resulted in savings of about $150,000 per year. Kendrick and Jackson share how as fraternity brothers and buddies from college, they came together to pool their skills, knowledge, talent and capital to create one of Florida’s fastest growing Black-owned construction firms in Florida.

Major props to all the laid men that make designing possible. LRM salutes you.


Now more than ever, the landscape architecture profession is leading the process that connects environmental, social, and economic health: green infrastructure.

The quest for an authoritative source for theories behind the trends in home landscaping has brought landscape architecture to the forefront. It not only enhances the architecture but adds value to a home. Howard was quoted by as saying that "Homeowners are reconnecting with their outdoor space, often in creative and imaginative ways.“

Walter Hood grew up during desegregation in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has spent more than 20 years living and working in the heart of Oakland, California.

Thabo Munyai, South AfricA's first black landscape architect, has been assisting with the design of parks, road islands, cemeteries and general open spaces requiring formality since 2005. He got into the profession as a result of a design competition, after which he was persuaded to study landscape architecture at the University of Pretoria. Following stints in the private sector and with Tshwane's parks department, he moved to City Parks after submitting proposed designs for parks. "The attraction to the profession is that there is creativity involved," he says. "You are also working with natural resources, which can have a direct impact on people in surrounding areas."

Dominican-born, Yafreisy Carrero, emerging Landscape Architect. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture at The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, CUNY City College of New York.

Design Your Own Today

documentaries of note This must see documents the glorious uprising of a community of well-known black artists Of Brooklyn’s triumphant Fort Greene in the late 80s. Available through iTunes,

In the spirit of the impending spring season, the following pages are meant to serve as a source of inspiration for those who dare to infuse a touch of color in their home to envoke a sense of paradise.

Images from HGTV

colors of paradise

Every great design story begins and ends in color. Paint is the most inexpensive way to give your home a makeover.

montrer son soutien

LRM implores its readers to support the brands featured in this issue who dare to help bring “African chic� to the masses! For more information on the brands featured in this months issue please visit our blog . We are, here to serve, to give the design community a way to move forward. We're here to tell the stories of ordinary practitioners who have overcome extraordinary odds to succeed in this competitive industry. We are also here to speak the truth to those who most need to hear it. As we embark on this journey together, please let us know what's on your mind and how we can better serve you in the years ahead. Peace & Light! MPL Design Group LLC


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