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Jun 28, 2021 By IIDA HQ
Introducing the Design Your World Education Program
IIDA has teamed up with After School Matters and industry partners to create early exposure and opportunity for BIPOC students to careers in interior design and architecture.
By IIDA HQ Jun 28, 2021
Published in Design Your World

IIDA is proud to announce the launch of Design Your World, an education pipeline program in partnership with Chicago non-profit After School Matters, granting design education opportunities to diverse high school students. The program kickstarts July 6 in Chicago, and is poised to expand nationwide, tackling diversity in our industry at the source.

We are beyond excited to help shift the needle with this first-of-its-kind program, and to do so working alongside industry partners OFS, 3form, Configura, and Mannington Commercial and After School Matters. After School Matters has provided over 350,000 teens in underserved communities exposure to the possibilities of a career in design, and an opportunity to develop their talents through world-class after-school and summer programs across Chicago.

It's been no secret that one of the challenges in developing diversity in the architecture and design industry is lack of early exposure and opportunity for BIPOC students at various stages of education and development. While there are great programs that seek to address these issues, Design Your World fills a specific void when it comes to interior design, and specifically commercial interior design, and is an important addition to IIDA's current efforts including scholarships that promote diversity, continuing education, and programming to our members around the world.

Representation is essential component to overcoming these shortfalls and we are proud to have the pilot program led by an incredible BIPOC designer and educator Ciera C. Payton, Assoc. IIDA, Senior Interior Designer at Desa Studio. We were thrilled with the response of the applicants from around the Chicagoland area, with over 150 high school applicants for 17 spots.

The program will engage high school students through an introduction to the history and practice of commercial interior design—expanding their understanding of interior design, its business practices, career specializations and educational requirements as well as providing hands-on design learning. In combination with the practical learning sessions, students learn about the design process, history, sustainability, ergonomics, and materials and furnishings. All with a through-line of addressing issues of design equity and sustainability. The course will also help develop communication and presentation skills, and expose the students to various segments of the industry.


Along with two field trips, we are inviting a stellar group of diverse design professionals to visit virtually with our students over the course of the summer to share their stories, and talk design, life, and inspiration. We’ll also be actively working to build relationships with the students to create further opportunities for mentorship, internships, and sustained support.

Watch the short video below to hear more about the goals and motivations of this program from IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, FIIDA, our Design Your World educator, Ciera C. Payton, Assoc. IIDA, Roby Isaac, Ind. IIDA, VP of Commercial Design, Mannington Commercial, Ryan Ben, Director of Association Experience, IIDA, and Maria VanDeman, Ind. IIDA, District Sales Manager, OFS,

In the words of IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, FIIDA, “Design is the ultimate act of optimism." It creates new worlds and opens up realms of possibility. The goal of Design Your World is to build exposure, access, and familiarity, knowing a handful of these students may pursue design professionally—but the creation of possibility is invaluable and critical to success. 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. Knowing that there is a place for them in this arena is crucial, and that IIDA can serve as a vehicle and support for these students is incredibly inspiring.

This summer program is the kick-off to a long-term program, with a deep commitment from IIDA and our partners to create a model that can be implemented in different regions of the country and beyond. From this initial 6-week course we will develop a guidebook that serves as a template with which to build iterations of the program elsewhere. We’re excited about expanding Design Your World and providing opportunities for students and young designers everywhere.

Our goal is to demonstrate that design is accessible to all, both as a career and as a necessary component of life. It is our responsibility to form a new archetype for BIPOC students. One that illuminates the value of design as a profession and provides a deeper understanding and appreciation for the built environment.”
Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, Executive Vice President and CEO, IIDA
Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, Executive Vice President and CEO, IIDA

Presenting Sponsor OFS, takes a deeper dive on the Imagine A Place podcast episode, Elevating Equity in DesignListen here. For more information on the Design Your World program, read the official press release here.

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