June 22, 2021

IIDA Launches Design Your World Pilot Program for BIPOC Students

As part of ongoing efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable industry, the International Interior Design Association unveiled its Design Your World pilot program today—a six-week summer practicum in Chicago that will equip BIPOC high school students interested in design with the tools of the trade.

Created in partnership with After School Matters, a Chicago-based nonprofit that offers arts programming for underserved teens, as well as OFS, 3form, Configura, and Mannington Commercial, Design Your World will welcome its premier class of students July 6. To address and correct barriers in design education, the program will provide students with mentorship opportunities and hands-on educational experiences, setting them up for success.

For BIPOC students, knowing that there is a place for them in the industry is crucial, notes Cheryl S. Durst, executive vice president and CEO of IIDA, adding that fostering engagement at an early age often leads to lasting exploration. “This is an opportunity for these students to see themselves in design—understanding the ways they can bring their whole life experiences and identity to the world of design,” she continues. 

Led by Ciera C. Payton, educator and senior interior designer at Desa Design Studio, the curriculum will focus on the principles of commercial design, such as drafting space plans, perfecting color palettes, and selecting materials, combined with sessions on business practices, career specializations, and pressing issues such as sustainability. Students also will gain an understanding of the importance of collaboration while expanding their professional networks via virtual sessions with BIPOC designers and two in-person field trips.

“Design is, as I often say, the ultimate act of optimism. It creates new worlds and opens realms of possibility,” adds Durst, who will be a guest speaker along with leaders from Mannington Commercial, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to name a few.

Looking ahead, the IIDA plans to establish Design Your World as a long-term program, expanding its reach to different regions while working closely with local chapters. The pilot program will enable the group to develop a guidebook this summer that will serve as a template for future iterations of the course. For more information on Design Your World, go here.


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