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IIDA Advances Equity in Design With Launch of Design Your World Pipeline Initiative
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CHICAGO — As part of a long-term commitment to expose a diverse community of students and emerging professionals to design through learning and engagement, the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) announced today a new initiative in partnership with non-profit organization After School Matters® (ASM). In alliance with ASM, presenting sponsor OFS, and supporting sponsors 3form, Mannington Commercial, and Configura, IIDA will produce a design program for high school students known as Design Your World. The pilot, which will kickstart July 6 in Chicago and build a framework for future regional expansion, will grant educational design opportunities while tackling diversity in design at the source.

“Our goal is to demonstrate that design is accessible to all, both as a career and as a necessary component of life,” said IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO, Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA. “We are honored to partner with After School Matters to help bridge the disparities BIPOC students face when determining their education and career path. 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.”

ASM has a long-standing record of success in the Chicago area, having served nearly 19,000 high school teens annually and over 350,000 since the program’s inception, with a focus on underserved communities. This partnership invites a paradigm shift in the predominately white design industry, focusing on students in the crucial early stages of career exploration, with an aim to bring the possibilities and inspiration of a career in design within their reach. Design Your World presents an important link to current IIDA efforts, which support scholarships for BIPOC design school students and provide continuing professional education and programming to members around the world.

“After School Matters is thrilled to welcome IIDA and commercial design as part of our programming,” said ASM Chief Programs Officer, Melissa Mister. “It is vital for our teens to understand the impact an environment can have on how we interact, work and thrive, and further, to feel encouraged to play a larger role in the design process.”

A significant initiative for IIDA and the design industry at large, the six-week program, led by Florida A&M University Architecture graduate and Savannah College of Art and Design MFA graduate and Interior Designer, Ciera C. Payton, will examine a well-rounded commercial design curriculum that will cover topics such as material selection, color theory, creating space plans, as well as working with various types of design firms and sectors.

Guest speaker Cheryl S. Durst, who holds a certificate in equity, diversity, and inclusion from Cornell, will kick-off Design Your World, followed by Vice President of Commercial Design for Mannington Commercial, Roby Isaac, Ind. IIDA; Interactive Design Architects (IDEA) President; former President of the Illinois Chapter of the National Organization for Minority Architects, Dina Griffin, IIDA, FAIA, NOMA; Hendrick Interior Designer and Savannah College of Art and Design Professor, Tara Headley, IIDA; and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) Senior Urban Designer, Project Manager, and Founder of the First 500 project, Tiara Hughes.

Industry sponsors weigh in on the significance of this program to the industry at large:

"Design Your World is an opportunity to help young teens discover a path in the industry, but on a larger scale, connect a diverse population of designers that can truly represent this nation's people,” said OFS Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ryan Menke. “It is critical for the health of the industry and for all the people of this country that are experiencing design outcomes every day.”

"There is no greater mission than to help foster the next generation of designers,” said 3form Vice President of Sales, Jennifer Ruckel, Ind. IIDA. “We want to make sure all students have access to programs that help them pursue their career aspirations and ultimately provide their unique perspective and vision to the built environment."

“At Mannington Commercial, we recognize that great things happen when creativity is nurtured,” said Mannington Vice President of Commercial Design, Roby Isaac, Ind. IIDA. “The Design Your World program is doing wonderful work by encouraging kids to dream big and providing the tools to get them started on an artful journey in the design profession.”

“Configura is proud to partner with IIDA for Design Your World,” said Configura Global Head of Training, Danielle Hirka. “This program provides critical access and design education for Chicago students to gain real-world experience and skills that support their academic and career success.”

Design Your World will officially launch July 6 with the initial ASM course running through August 13, 2021.

For more information on IIDA, visit: www.iida.org. For more information on After School Matters®, visit: www.afterschoolmatters.org.


After School Matters provides Chicago high school teens with high quality, after-school and summer opportunities to explore and develop their talents while gaining critical skills for work, college and beyond. Since 1991, After School Matters has offered more than 350,000 opportunities to teens, helping them gain valuable knowledge and skills which have helped them discover their passion in life. Programs are currently taking place remotely, though typically take place at locations throughout the city including Chicago public high schools, Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Library locations, community organizations, downtown at the Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, in Belmont Cragin at our Michael and Karyn Lutz Center for After School Matters and at our new After School Matters at Gately Park space. www.afterschoolmatters.org


OFS is a family-owned contract furniture manufacturer dedicated to crafting experiences and products that contribute to places where people want to be. Founded in 1937, OFS provides furniture and logistics solutions for office, healthcare, education, lifestyle, hospitality, government, and home office markets worldwide, offering seating, tables, casegoods, and open plan products. The brands, Carolina and Bryan Ashley are OFS companies. OFS is based in Huntingburg, Indiana. www.ofs.com


3form is a design-driven materials solutions company offering breakthrough sustainable products that help bring projects to life. Their approach promotes craftsmanship, community, sustainability, and respect for the environments where we work and live. 3form’s product portfolio ranges from simple resin and glass materials to sophisticated solutions. www.3-form.com


Configura creates intelligent space-planning software for manufacturers, dealers and designers in the Contract Furniture, Kitchen and Bath, Material Handling, Industrial Machinery, and Laboratory and Healthcare industries. The company’s software products, including CET Designer, are used by more than 12,000 people around the world. Configura Sverige AB, the parent company, is headquartered in Linköping, Sweden, with commercial operations in Gothenburg, Sweden; Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Shenzhen, China. Founded in 1990, Configura is privately owned with over 200 employees worldwide and annual sales of more than $18 million USD. www.configura.com


Mannington Commercial crafts flooring with purpose. The company offers a full range of products designed to inspire creativity and deliver advanced performance in all types of commercial spaces. Across modular carpet, broadloom, LVT, resilient sheet and rubber, customers receive coordinated solutions to meet their specific goals. The fifth generation, family-owned company is guided by this dedication to its customers and to making a positive impact on the environment and local communities. www.manningtoncommercial.com

Press Contact:
Kimberly Writt
Jo Communications