Diversity in the Interior Design Industry

The last few days have been extraordinary. The Black Lives Matter movement that began in 2013 has been brought back to the fore by the death of George Floyd and for some of us, including me, it is the first real awakening about what it means to be anti-racist. A huge amount of discussion and sharing of resources has been going on over on Instagram but I want to use my platform here to share what I have learnt and my intention to continue to learn in the hope that we can work together to bring about change.

What does this all have to do with Interior Design? Everything is the answer. For real change to happen every single facet of life has to be addressed as well as every industry. There is a very real lack of diversity in the interiors industry, especially in the UK as far as I can see based on my research over the last few days, from Interior Designers, to stylists, to influencers. Michelle Ogundehin, former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK, wrote a piece yesterday Let’s Talk About Diversity… and her insights on the topic are fascinating. I am very ashamed to say that I haven’t questioned it until now. That is white privilege. The drip feed effect of the lack of diversity is extremely harmful. I looked around my home at the beginning of the week when I started writing this piece and I made some shocking realisations. All my artwork is done by white artists and represents white people, most of the coffee table books are written by white people, the majority of the ornaments and one off pieces are made by white people, the textiles are designed by white people. Not only have I not supported black people and other people of colour in their work and spent my money on their products and services but I have also sent out very strong messages to friends, family and my daughter through what I share in my home. Yes, I’d challenge any one of them if they shared a racist joke or made a racist remark without hesitation but that’s not enough. We need to be reaching further than that and going deeper.

I make no assumptions but my guess would be that that pattern, of white buying and supporting white, must be repeated throughout a lot of homes. A bit like high street fashion being influenced top down from the catwalk, if the majority of the interiors industry is white the drip feed on normal every day homes will be that they are not filled with a diverse range of designers, makers and artists. This is where I can make some change as someone in the interiors industry, as someone who recommends products, showcases art in my home, shares other blogs, designs other people’s homes. I commit to diversifying my feed, my choices, what I present to you here, what I buy for my own home. Awareness is the start, doing it today is something but making it a structural change long term and forever is what is needed.

I want to share a few of the black interior designers and stylists, blogs and Instagram feeds that I have followed for years or have only just discovered in the last few days to make a small start on diversifying the influences around us. As well as following these designers if you would like to donate to support black designers you can do so through the Black Artists and Designers Guild: DONATE HERE.

Clare Gaskin: A London based interior designer that is very close to home. This commissioned piece representing Wimbledon Common is just amazing.
Hill House Vintage: I have no idea how Paula and her wonderful English country style has not been on my radar until now!
Curate and Display: Tiff is a wonderful stylist and her own home is beautiful.
Ishka Designs: A Brooklyn based design firm specialising in vacation properties around the world.
Justina Blakeney: Justina was one of the first designers I started following when I began my blog in 2013. Justina put some of her own artwork up for sale yesterday – it sold out really quickly but keep an eye out for more.
Romanek Design Studio: A hugely successful US based design studio founded by Brigette Romanek.
Grillo Designs: Medina is a DIY genius with loads of inventive and stylish interior hacks and ideas on her blog.
Nest Twenty Eight: Lucinda’s interiors and DIY blog is new to me and I look forward to exploring further.

There is a wealth of interiors inspiration on Instagram too. I found Africa’s account because her kids’ room is so beautiful and I have also been following the play area she’s been making in their garden with very keen interest as I want to do something similar for Mimi. Isa’s account is new to me and that garden is amazing! Ash, Jaz and Alison are also new to me – be sure to check out Jaz’s online art gallery too.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Ash Appleton Interiorista 🌈🏠 (@anafricaneye) on

 
 
 
 
 
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Going forward with new awareness I hope I can do better. This is just a very small start.

Katy x

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4 Comments

  1. Haylee
    5th June 2020 / 12:50 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is so helpful and so beautiful to see representation of people who look like me within the creative field. Thank you for using your platform to bring more awareness and to promote diversity in Interior design. It has been long overdue and it’s great people are realising more needs to be done.

    I cannot explain how lovely it is for me, a budding interior designer, to see other black creatives work showcased on such a large platform.

    Your allyship is so appreciated!

  2. Karen Stack Stack
    8th June 2020 / 11:51 am

    Thank you so much!
    This is incredible and extremely eye opening x
    beautiful xxx

  3. Natalie
    9th June 2020 / 11:44 am

    A lovely article and thank you for your honesty and openness, this is exactly the kind of move that everyone can make to propel us all towards the change we need to see!
    X

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