top_graphic bottom_graphic
IIDA Foundation, in Partnership With IA Interior Architects, Announces 2021 Diversity in Design Scholarship Recipients
arrow Press Room

CHICAGO — The IIDA Foundation, in partnership with IA Interior Architects (IA), is pleased to announce the 2021 recipients of the IA Interior Architects Diversity in Design Scholarship.

“Promoting diversity in design is crucial to advancing our industry as a whole, and this scholarship celebrates those from underrepresented communities,” said IIDA Foundation Chair Tara Headley, Associate IIDA. “The strength shown in these essays is a testament to the power of representation and awareness. We are proud to be able to give back to such incredible designers who have shown a passion for highlighting critical issues.”

The scholarship fund was established as part of a five-year partnership between the IIDA Foundation and IA Interior Architects to enrich and advance the interior design profession by recognizing outstanding students.

“This year, we chose to focus on one of the most pressing issues related to an equitable workforce: representation. As designers and architects, we have a responsibility to create sustainable and egalitarian spaces where people of all backgrounds feel safe and empowered to do their best work,” said IA Co-CEOs and Presidents Tom Powers and David Bourke. “As always, we received a number of fantastic entries from around the world that addressed this topic in a compelling way; so many, in fact, that there was a tie for second place. We extend our sincerest congratulations to all of the winners and look forward to seeing the impact these young professionals will have on the design profession.”

Students enrolled in a design or architecture program were encouraged to participate by writing a 500-word essay on the importance of representation in design. Essays were required to address how increased representation in the design profession can create equity in the end-user experience of design and what that looks like to them.

All essays were reviewed by select leadership of the IIDA Foundation Board of Trustees and IA Interior Architects and judged anonymously.

Sarah Relyea, Student IIDA
, of The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) was awarded this year’s first-place scholarship of $5,000 for her essay, “Diverse Diversity.”

Madison College’s (Madison, Wisconsin) Kay Myers, Student IIDA, received the second-place award of $3,000 for her essay, “Thinking Outside the Box,” as did California State University, Long Beach’s (Long Beach, California) Ariana Rahim, Student IIDA who tied for second place for her essay “Rewriting the Future Together.”

There were four additional $500 scholarship awards granted for essays that received honorable mentions; the recipients include Teah Brands, of Parsons School of Design, The New School (New York City, New York) for her essay “Please Excuse our Appearance; Gentrification in Process”; Liliana Davies, Student IIDA of University of Texas at Arlington (Arlington, Texas) for her essay “The Topic of Representation”; Reece Lash of Indiana University Bloomington (Bloomington, Indiana) for his essay “The Evolution of Design”; and Mandi Taylor, Student IIDA of University of Oregon (Eugene, Oregon) for her essay “Design for Everyone.”

All IA Interior Architects Diversity in Design Scholarship recipients will be featured in the IIDA newsletters Design Matters and QUAD, and winning essays are available in full on IIDA.org. As part of the recognition, scholarship recipients will be invited to a virtual celebration this summer with IA’s leadership team, where they can engage in dialogue directly with practicing designers and architects through a roundtable and Q&A. Details on the festivities will be announced in May. For more information about the IA Interior Architects Diversity in Design Scholarship, please contact foundation@iida.org.

Press Contact:
Ciara Merouan
Jo Chicago Communications