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Nov 01, 2021 By IIDA HQ
Design Your World: A Pathway to Design
IIDA’s inaugural Design Your World education pipeline program wrapped up in Chicago this summer, and is poised to expand building diversity and equity within the design industry.
By IIDA HQ Nov 01, 2021
Published in Articles

IIDA’s Design Your World (DYW) program, many years in incubation, launched in the summer of 2021. The program, in partnership with Chicago-based education organization After School Matters, is driven by the core goal of building diversity and equity within the design industry. Led by educator Ciera C. Payton, the inaugural program consisted of a 6 week course for high school students, Introduction to Commercial Interior Design—an introduction to the history and practice of interior design. Expanding their understanding of what interior design is in the commercial design world, its business practices, career specializations and educational requirements as well as providing hands-on design learning.

IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO, Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. IIDA in conversation with Robert Nieman, Chief Content Director of interiors+sources, discussed the impetus for launching Design Your World, “For me, it was really personal. As a kid, I was in an arts education program, and it exposed an entire world to me. And I always thought if I ever had the opportunity to open up a world for somebody, I would use whatever power and wherewithal I could to do that. IIDA did it, and education has been kind of the cornerstone of my life.”

In combination with the practical learning sessions, students gained understanding of the design process, history, sustainability, ergonomics, and materials and furnishings. All of this with a through-line of addressing issues of design equity in the industry as whole, practitioners and opportunity, and the importance of access to good design by the broader community. Through the process of working in teams, the students' developed concepts for student or community centers. With various presentation phases along the way, the process additionally helped in the development of communication and presentation skills.

At NeoCon 2021 we premiered "Design Your World: A Pathway to Design" produced in partnership with OFS's Imagine a Place, to an audience of several hundred on the grand staircase at theMart.

Working closely with our presenting sponsor OFS, as well as participating sponsors 3form, Mannington Commercial, and Configura, the students went on field trips to theMart, took architecture walking tours with the Chicago Architecture Center, and participated in virtual sessions with both designers and manufacturers. As we move to expand the program in 2022 to a new city and beyond, we are excited about building new partnerships and grateful for the support and commitment from our existing ones.

“Investing in the future of design has been a keystone principle at OFS. The mission of the Design Your World program is important, not only to the students that go through it, but to the future of our industry and to people all over that experience design outcomes," says Doug Shapiro, Ind. IIDA, VP of Research and Insights, OFS. "We view Design Your World as something that the whole industry could rally around. We are excited to team up with our manufacturing peers and design clients on growing it's impact."

Thank you to interiors+sources for their support of Design Your World during NeoCon through their Equity Through Education program. The program was shared through their physical space at theMart, they hosted interviews and worked with industry partners to raise $13,000 in support of the program. These ‘Friends of Design Your World’ generous donations will go towards student supplies, programming, field trips, and more. We are thankful for the industry support for this important education pipeline program, building equity and opportunity, and excited for what lies ahead. Our gratitude to these 'Friends' for their support:

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(Above: Students touring the Mannington Commercial showroom at theMart in Chicago)


To learn more about Design Your World partnership contact Tracey Thomas, IIDA's Director of Strategic Sales at tthomas@iida.org.

Media Coverage:

"Mannington Commercial Sponsors Design Your World," Floor Trends MagazineI, June 2021
"Design Your World," Great Lakes by Design, August 2021
"IIDA Launches Design Your World Pilot Program for BIPOC Students," Interior Design, June 2021
"A pathway to design | An interview with Cheryl S. Durst," OFS Imagine a Place

Read more from IIDA on Design Your World:

"IIDA’s Design Your World," September 2021
"Design Your World Activated," July 2021
"Introducing the Design Your World Education Program," June 2021


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