As part of a long-term commitment to expose a diverse community of students and emerging professionals to design through learning and engagement, the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) announced a new initiative in partnership with non-profit organization After School Matters (ASM). In alliance with ASM, presenting sponsor OFS, and supporting sponsors  3form, Mannington Commercial and Configura, IIDA will produce a design program for high school students known as Design Your World. The pilot, which will kickstart July 6 in Chicago and runs through August 13, 2021, will build a framework for future regional expansion, will grant educational design opportunities while tackling diversity in design at the source.

“Our goal is to demonstrate that design is accessible to all, both as a career and as a necessary component of life,” said IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO, Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA. “We are honored to partner with After School Matters to help bridge the disparities BIPOC students face when determining their education and career path. It is our responsibility to form a new archetype for BIPOC students. One that illuminates the value of design as a profession and provides a deeper understanding and appreciation for the built environment.”

ASM has a long-standing record of success in the Chicago area, having served nearly 19,000 high school teens annually and over 350,000 since the program’s inception, with a focus on underserved communities. This partnership invites a paradigm shift in the predominately white design industry, focusing on students in the crucial early stages of career exploration, with an aim to bring the possibilities and inspiration of a career in design within their reach. Design Your World presents an important link to current IIDA efforts, which support scholarships for BIPOC design school students and provide continuing professional education and programming to members around the world.

“After School Matters is thrilled to welcome IIDA and commercial design as part of our programming,” said ASM Chief Programs Officer, Melissa Mister. “It is vital for our teens to understand the impact an environment can have on how we interact, work and thrive, and further, to feel encouraged to play a larger role in the design process.”

The six-week program, led by Florida A&M University Architecture graduate and Savannah College of Art and Design MFA graduate and Interior Designer, Ciera C. Payton, will examine a well-rounded commercial design curriculum that will cover topics such as material selection, color theory, creating space plans, as well as working with various types of design firms and sectors.

Guest speaker Cheryl S. Durst, who holds a certificate in equity, diversity, and inclusion from Cornell, will kick-off Design Your World, followed by Vice President of Commercial Design for Mannington Commercial, Roby Isaac, Ind. IIDA; Interactive Design Architects (IDEA) President; former President of the Illinois Chapter of the National Organization for Minority Architects, Dina Griffin, IIDA, FAIA, NOMA; Hendrick Interior Designer and Savannah College of Art and Design Professor, Tara Headley, IIDA; and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) Senior Urban Designer, Project Manager, and Founder of the First 500 project, Tiara Hughes.

“At Mannington Commercial, we recognize that great things happen when creativity is nurtured,” said Mannington Vice President of Commercial Design Roby Isaac, Ind. IIDA. “The Design Your World program is doing wonderful work by encouraging kids to dream big and providing the tools to get them started on an artful journey in the design profession.”

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