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Dec 14, 2020 By IIDA
Breaking the Silence in Design: Where Do We Go From Here?
Brought to you by sponsor
IIDA and OFS present a frank conversation on equality, diversity, and inclusion in interior design—and what students can do for themselves and for the future of the industry.
By IIDA Dec 14, 2020
Published in Academy
Brought to you by sponsor

The annual IIDA Student Roundtable, sponsored by OFS, was hosted virtually this year, tackling some urgent issues that the industry and students face today. In addition to a global pandemic, 2020 saw civil unrest in the U.S. that has left many reckoning with the nation’s history of racism and inequality.

IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA was joined by Gabrielle Bullock, IIDA, FAIA, NOMAC of Perkins & Will, and Karen Compton of A3K Consulting, the hosts of the vodcast, “Breaking the Silence in Design,” for a thoughtful discussion tackling race and inequity in the design and construction industry. They discuss how anyone can use their voice to affect change in their communities, schools, and workplaces and how being anti-racist is important work.

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In order to get to diversity and inclusion, you need to start with justice and equity—otherwise diversity and inclusion are just checking the boxes.
- Gabrielle Bullock
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- Gabrielle Bullock

What does diversity and inclusion mean? Bullock explains that “Diversity is asking someone to the party. Inclusion is asking them to dance. And equity is asking that person to share their playlist.” Compton describes it as a beachball, “Diversity is having the widest view and perspective on a situation—seeing all the colors on the ball.” The intent being that when you spin the ball, no matter where the person is sitting, they are able to view the ball from all perspectives.

Interior design and architecture have historically been professions that struggle with diversity and inclusion. Bullock and Compton reflect on the experience of navigating an education and career as black women—often the only black women in the room. Noting that mentorships and networks are more accessible to students today than they were in past years, they offer advice they wish they heard at that age.

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Take chances—nothing is too serious that you can’t go back and fix it. I wish someone told me that it is ok to make mistakes as you go.
- Karen Compton
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- Karen Compton

Students are in a unique position to affect change through activism. Compton notes that a building block of systematic racism is the education system. It’s where the people that shape policies and laws learn and absorb learned racism and biases and take them forth into their work.

Bullock agrees that for students it’s a “Perfect time to use your voice particularly at schools, because students are demanding change and being specific with their voice. These bipoc voices are triggering change.”

Listen to the full conversation and earn 1 IDCEC CEU credit here.

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