In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd in the US in May, protestors took to the streets across the world to march against racial inequality.
The global anti-racism movement has sparked much-needed conversations about diversity and inclusion in the UK and the lack of opportunities given to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in every aspect of their lives, including their careers. We have been listening and learning as the design community have engaged in these conversations about racial diversity and there has been a long overdue realisation that things need to change.
The British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) is showing industry leadership by launching its first Diversity In Interior Design survey to better understand the current landscape and to help shape its action plan to improve inclusion and diversity in the interior design profession.
Other designers and industry leaders have been developing ground-breaking and innovative new initiatives to help create lasting change in the industry, these include:
Design for Diversity Pledge
Founded by writer, Kate Watson Smyth, and interior designer, Rukmini Patel, the Design for Diversity pledge is an innovative new initiative for brands, businesses, bloggers, designers and stylists to pledge their support to creating a more diverse industry. Businesses simply place a sticker on their website which leads to a link leading to the pledge, which makes it clear that they are supporting and actively participating in efforts to open up interior design to those from BAME backgrounds, whether that is through mentoring, internships, or by any other means.
Kate says: “We do not claim it as a solution. But we offer it as the start of a conversation. A sign that the door is open…… It’s our sincere hope that the presence of this sticker on a design website or social channel will give those who see it the confidence to take a step forward, while offering reassurance that their interest will be received with positivity and fairness.”
Wildwood is backing the pledge, along with a growing number of our peers in the design industry, to show that we’re committed to supporting diversity across our business.
United in Design
United in Design is a newly launched charitable organisation founded by interior designer and BIID member, Sophie Ashby and KLC tutor and interior designer, Alexandria Dauley, to address the lack of diversity in the UK Interior Design industry. Specifically, the lack of representation from the Black, Asian, ethnic minority and low socio-economic communities.
Through partnerships with established educational programmes, industry professionals and sponsors, the intention is to provide a clear road map for increased diversity in all sectors of the industry — design studios, makers, suppliers to individuals and magazines.
In a recent feature for Vogue, Sophie says: “There are so many different ways we can support Black communities – and supporting and advocating for Black-owned brands and creatives has to be one of the most fun.” Check out her list of her favourite black artists, ceramicists & interiors brands here.
As a company, we too are looking with fresh eyes at our own processes and are determined to make progress in this area ourselves. We have also been exploring ways of continuing these important conversations with our own initiatives.
The popular Interior Design Business Podcast launched a new episode this week, focussing specifically on this subject. To find out first hand and discuss some possible solutions to the issues of diversity and inclusion in the interior design profession, hosts – our own Jeff Hayward – and interior designer, Susie Rumbold, were joined by Design Career Consultant, Simon Hamilton, and Charmaine White of The White House Interiors to talk about their own experiences.
The enlightening and engaging conversation explores the challenges of being a BAME designer working in the Interior Design profession today, the barriers and the changes that need to happen. To listen to the podcast in full, click here. The importance of working towards a more diverse and equal community is an on-going journey which needs all of our efforts, to help ensure a truly inclusive society.