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Oct 09, 2023 By Jessica Jones
Design Your World 2023: Shaping Tomorrow
The Design Your World program continues to shape and mold the bright future of design
By Jessica Jones Oct 09, 2023
Published in Programs

IIDA’s Design Your World program (DYW) took place this summer, expanding from Chicago and Miami to include St. Louis. The program’s mission is to build equity and diversity in the design industry by providing high school students with exposure to the possibilities of a career in design. During the program, students are fully immersed in the experience, learning from designers in the industry and collaborating with peers who share similar passions and views. Not only are the students invited into the world of design, they are able to learn from designers who look like them, demonstrating that a career in design can be inclusive and attainable. With the help of instructors and teachers’ assistants, students reimagine the functionality of a space by learning design techniques. Hear from our students and instructors as they share their experiences from this year's DYW.

DYW Chicago

This is the third year for the Chicago program, which was supported by educational partner Fresh Artists. Students learned the basics, history, and process of commercial interior design from designer and educator Kenzie Leon Perry with help from his teaching assistants.

“One of my fond memories is when a student asked to return to the program next year,” said Perry. “Another is to see shy students who enter the program not knowing anything about interior design blossom as a designer and flourish as an evolved human being after the program.”

Students build community with each other, go on field trips and are introduced to the business practices of interior design, career specializations, and educational requirements—all supported by visits from designers, manufacturers, and design school representatives.

“I would encourage others to join Design Your World because of the future connections you will make in this program,” said student Bessie K. “You will make so many friends who all have one thing in common so you can bond and have more connections with people from different schools. You will also have connections when you try to get a job in the interior design field because it shows that you've had experience at a young age.”

DYW Miami

This is the second year for the Miami program. Held on Florida International University’s campus, DYW Miami gathered students to learn the fundamentals and practice of commercial interior design. Throughout the summer, students developed techniques and learned about materials and furnishings through multiple sessions. Perry also led the instruction helping students gain agency and skills to change their environment. The power of agency is what students need, to know that change is possible.

“One of the most important things I learned over the course of both my years at this program was how to deal with changes. Not everything about a project goes properly and a team has to be ready for challenges and changes alike. Changes came in different ways and my team and I had to find our way around it by using each and every one of our own changing perspectives that we offered”, said second year Student Sajid M.

Students had the opportunity to see the different paths they can take in the industry on a larger scale. They learned the process of design, sustainability, ergonomics, materials, and furnishings through practical learning sessions, hands-on projects, field trips, and industry engagement.

Student Micah M. said of his participation, “I would encourage other students to join DYW simply for the experience. The exposure to the design industry has changed how I see so many things without me voluntarily thinking or analyzing it. The staff and administrators are fun, approachable, and personable. Whether they are reserved or not students can ask for one on one help to progress through the program. And meeting new people their age will be good exposure to work environments and presentation.”

DYW St. Louis

This is the first year for the St. Louis program, which was held on Washington University’s campus. Different from the other two cities' programs, the St. Louis program was a two-week immersive program in collaboration with the IIDA Gateway Chapter and educational partner, Fresh Artists. Lindsey Buening, IIDA, instructor of interior design at Maryville University, was the instructor for this program where she engaged the students in hands-on activities, discussions and field-trips.

“Design Your World is a unique pipeline program that engages young people from a wide range of communities— this kind of equity, diversity, and inclusion is what I want for the future of the design industry, so I couldn’t have been more excited to be involved,” said Buening. “The experience of watching the students get excited about design was incredible. I could see the switch flip for them, and I knew that they would take what they were learning out into the world with them.”

Students were visited by different designers, manufacturers, and design school representatives throughout the program. Presenters shared their experiences and encouraged students to work hard, focus and trust in their abilities.

“Design Your World is such an amazing opportunity that allows you to try something new and make connections with those in your surrounding community,” said student Miranda L. “Collaboration is the most important thing I learned from this program. Collaboration while finding your individuality is an amazing part of design. For me Design Your World engaged me in something I felt was right for me and wasn’t sure if I would pursue.”

Learn more about the DYW program here and how you can get involved.

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