We’re in the midst of a painful and necessary moment of reckoning in America. It’s a conversation sprawling out into our streets and parks, our houses of worship and places of business, our neighborhoods and even our homes. The interior design industry, existing as it does in somewhat rarefied air, is often sheltered from difficult conversations about racial injustice—but it shouldn’t be.
It has long been clear that people of color have been underrepresented in our industry. It was true before the death of George Floyd ignited a firestorm of protest, and it is a subject that deserves attention no matter what the national headlines are. But now is certainly a good time to reflect on the things we can do to make our industry more diverse, more equitable and more beautiful.
Here’s a small way to start: Support black-owned businesses. We’d love to grow this list, so if you know of a company we should add, drop us a line.
Born in Ghana, raised in South Africa and now living in New York, Nana Quagraine created 54Kibo when she realized how underrepresented African designers and artisans were in the global market. Specializing in contemporary African design, 54Kibo sells a wide range of product, from lighting and furniture to skin care and candy.
BLK MKT Vintage
Nestled in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, BLK MKT Vintage takes a curated approach to vintage wears, focusing on the black cultural experience. Products range from furniture and wall hangings to kitschier finds like VHS copies of Sister Act and old Pepsi ads.
Bolé Road Textiles
Ethiopian-born and Brooklyn-based, Hana Getachew started Bolé Road Textiles out of a desire to merge her love of Ethiopian handwoven fabrics with her career in interior design. Getachew’s designs are an homage to her cultural inheritance and a reflection of her own personal global modern aesthetic.
Based in Los Angeles, interior designer, entrepreneur, lifestyle expert and philanthropist Breegan Jane is a lifelong partner of World Vision—proceeds from her online jewelry sales help combat the horrific realities of genital mutilation in young girls in Kenya.
This direct-to-consumer paint company was founded by interior designer Nicole Gibbons in an effort to reimagine the paint shopping experience. Clare’s curated hues feature fun, of-the-moment names like Avocado Toast and No Filter and are delivered straight to your door.
Don’t Sleep Interiors
Founded with the intention of combining interior decor with culture from the African diaspora and social and political consciousness, Don’t Sleep Interiors features pillows, art and gifts.
Eva Sonaike is a London-based interiors company specializing in luxury home textiles and soft furnishings with a distinctive and vibrant West African aesthetic.
Dexter and Byron PeartCelia Spenard-Ko
After selling their stake in luxury brand WANT Les Essentiels in 2017, twin brothers Byron and Dexter Peart founded Goodee, an e-commerce platform that promises to connect conscious consumers with ethical makers, last year. As Byron told BOH, “Discovering and supporting intentional brands has always been a passion of ours. This platform connects an ecosystem of makers to consumers looking to make better choices.”
Johanna Howard Home
A native of Sweden, Howard brings Scandinavian design principles to her line of textiles, Johanna Howard Home, which are largely made of alpaca wool from Peru.
Justina Blakeney for Valdese WeaversCourtesy of Justina Blakeney
Run by interior designer turned product designer Justina Blakeney, Jungalow is a lifestyle brand that features bohemian-inspired furniture, decor, art, apparel and more. Blakeney also has a number of collaborations with brands ranging from Loloi Rugs to Granada Tile to Fabricut and even Band-Aid, meaning there is no shortage of ways to support her brand.
Livvy & Neva
Created by New York–based interior designer Keita Turner, Livvy & Neva is a line of bespoke and limited-edition decorative pillows, imaginatively designed from excellent-condition or never-used vintage textiles and new contemporary fabrics.
Artist and activist Malene Barnett tackles many mediums, from sculptural ceramic tiles and vessels to mixed media paintings to handwoven rugs, infusing her African heritage with each. Barnett also founded the Black Artists + Designers Guild, an organization that aims to provide members with increased visibility and opportunities.
Marie Burgos Design Collection
Interior designer Marie Burgos has an independent collection of bold lighting, furniture and decorative accessories. Infused with inspiration from her native Paris, Burgos’s designs invoke a simple luxury and often have an ethereal quality.
Nicole Crowder Upholstery
Independent furniture designer and upholster Nicole Crowder creates custom pieces for residential and commercial clients in addition to creating small design collections that she sells in her Washington, D.C., studio.
Rochelle Porter Design
Atlanta-based lifestyle brand Rochelle Porter Design specializes in vibrant, eco-friendly home decor and fashion textiles. In her own words, Porter “aims to design the flyest possible products while doing the least possible harm.”
Sheila Bridges Design
New York–based interior designer Sheila Bridges was inspired by traditional French toile to create Harlem Toile du Juoy, an updated motif that reflects the day-to-day life of her neighborhood. The print has now been featured in The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum of Arts and Design, and as far afield as the Musée de la Toile de Jouy in France, and it is in the permanent wallpaper collection at The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
Founded in 2019, this brand works with female artisans in rural Senegal to create traditional handmade baskets.
Traditional and timeworn textiles and techniques are the foundation of this Brooklyn furniture and decor brand created by Nasozi Kakembo, who left a career in social justice to focus on her passion for textiles.
For recommendations from various industries, Shoppe Black has a great list of resources.
Homepage photo: A scene from Justina Blakeney’s collaboration with Loloi Rugs | Courtesy of Justina Blakeney