Category Archives: Interior Design

Y is for…


.002%. That is the percentage of licensed black female architects in the United State. This places Yolande Daniels with these elite. She is the principal, founder, and female partner of Studio SUMO, a multidisciplinary architecture firm based in New York City. The firm got its name from Daniel’s childhood nickname, Momo, and her partner, Sunil Bald’s, first name. Currently serving as the 2011- 2012 Silcott Endowed Chair at Howard University, she also has lots of experience as a professor of architecture, teaching at University of Michigan, City Colleges of NY, and Columbia University;s GSAAP.

Sunil Bald (l) and Yolande Daniels (r) are Studio SUMO.

Some of this talented lady’s accomplishments include the 2006 Architectural Vanguard Award, which highlights the young phenoms in the field. Today Studio SUMO is over 10 years old and has an impressive portfolio of projects. The firm is focused on innovative solutions that use the physical, social, and cultural contexts to shape design. In 2010, Studio SUMO were selected by the Architetural League of New York for the Emerging Voices Competitions. Daniel’s work at the firm ranges from installations to large scale buildings. One of their highly publicized projects were the window treatments, marketing images and interior gallery space of the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art. SUMO’s first international project, the Josai School of Management in Saitama-ken, Japan led to many projects with the university for their campus. Check out Studio SUMO’s work at their website or in the book New York Dozen: Gen X Architects by Michael Crosbie.

Studio SUMO's design for MoCADA.

Interior student lounge at Josai University designed by Studio SUMO.

Yolande’s ethnicity influences and adds to a few of the firm’s project’s, specifically the Mitan project in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami, as well as many exhibition designs for MoCADA. Her independent research is inspired by patterns and deriving formal strategies from non-linear, informal systems. She was recently honored with a travel award from AIANY to investigate and document slave spaces in Brazil, supporting her previous work examining architecture and the politics of space. Ms. Daniels also submitted the Tea Cozy installation to the Evergreen Museum in Baltimore which drew inspirations from Asian culture, Alice and Wonderland, and the museum tearoom. She represented the city of Philadelphia in her piece for “The Dresser Trunk Project” which examined locations of refuge during the Jim Crow Era.

Sumo's design for Little Haiti Housing Project.

Rendering of Little Haiti Housing Project's Courtyard space.

Throughout her professional work, both with Studio SUMO and on her own, Yolande Daniels always asks hard questions. Her design work pulls creative influences from many reference points, yielding intriguing spaces that draw you in and art pieces that make one take a second look. Ms. Daniels research draws from her field, examines ethnicity, and finds a way to marry the two with interesting studies that provide an often unheard perspective in the field. Frankly, we need more people like Yolande Daniels doing critical work in this world.

Daniel's piece for the Dresser Trunk Project.

Tea Cozy by Yolande Daniels.


Hues of Gray

While browsing the internet a few weeks ago, I stumbled across an interesting little design blog, A Design State of Mind. It’s most outstanding feature was a post called ‘Hue of the Month’, which highlighted African American Interior Designers and Interior Design Students. I continued to read and become engulfed in my new discovery, but as I started to get carried away, it stopped! SO, after a slight melt down, a quick recovery and a bit more research, I found that this particular blogger has not only continued to give readers ‘Hue of the Month’ BUT has expanded her concept to bring us so much more…

Danielle Gray, received her Bachelors Degree in History as well as Political Science, accompanied by a Masters Degree in Urban Studies, but found herself  in a bit of a dilemma. Danielle knew she no longer wanted to pursue a law degree , as originally intended, but was unsure of what her next move should be. Along a journey to rediscover who she wanted to be when she grew up, Danielle developed an interest in Interior Design; recalling a time in her childhood enjoying drawing and sketching. Interior Design has helped Danielle explore her creativity through the creation of spaces that tell a story. Miss Gray has worked her way through design school, done her fair share of internships and found her way in the industry. This year has brought new beginnings for Danielle with a new blog & the launch of her own design company Gray Living, designing reflections of her clients style, personality and culture.

But the reason I introduce Miss Danielle Gray to you today is to shine a light on her relentless efforts to bring more diversity to the field of Interior Design. In the US, of 850,000 “designers” documented in the census, 4% are African American, of all professional Interior Designers 4.8%; and 4.2% of 40,000 students that enrolled into an Interior Design program, in a span of 2 years, many of these students leaving after only one year. Granted, those figures are considerably better than those of some other design fields, but discouraging none the less.

Earlier I told you about one of Danielle’s efforts to counteract that distressing ratio and charter the awareness of African American Interior Designers with ‘Hue of the Month’, and since it’s debut in May of 2010 it has expanded into Hues In Design. Hues In Design started as a way to give African American Interior Designers and Decorators the opportunity to network and share resources. Based in Washington, DC  Hues In Design is a group that meets once a month to discuss topics associated with Interior Design, such as- client & vendor relations, design associations and trade shows, just to name a few.

The spin off from her blog feature has since established a presence on Facebook, as well as Twitter. As Hues In Design continues to grow Danielle proceeds to bring awareness of Interior Design to the African American, as well as other minority communities; giving them a voice and changing the face of the Interior Design industry, associations and main stream trade publications along the way.

On the first Wednesday of every month at 7pm ET Hues In Design will be hosting a chat on Twitter #huesindesign. Join in on their next Twitter hosted chat on June 1, 2011. 

Designer Profile: Stephen Burks

It seems everywhere I turn these days I’m hearing Stephen Burks’ name… and that’s a good thing. Burks has long been heralded for his work from within the design community but always seems on the verge of something bigger. 2011 has been a good year for Burks, once labeled the “Barack Obama of design” by a member of the press. Currently his show Man Made is on exhibit at the Studio Museum in Harlem and is his first solo show. Later this spring he mounts another show Are You a Hybrid? (opens May 3) at the Museum of Art and Design in Manhattan. His contributions to the show Design for the Living World will be featured in Chicago starting next month. Burks also has a piece in collaboration with Swarovski that was featured at Eurolace, the design runway for lighting fixtures in Milan. Ladies and Gents, this man has been busy.

Piece from Burks Inside/Out Collection for Swarovski

Man Made at the Studio Museum in Harlem

Burks is unique for many reasons, including his varied path that makes him kind of a design jack-of-all-trades. Obtaining degrees in architecture and product design at the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Masters in Architecture at Columbia University, Burks tackles the worlds of architecture, industrial design, furniture design, and fine arts in one fell swoop. Burk’s Brooklyn based studio, Readymade Projects, Inc. serves as headquarters for all his work, and what an impressive resume it is.

Burks in Readymade Projects studio

He has designed for internationally renowned design brands like Artenica, B&B Italia, and Cappellina as well as more noted luxury icons like Misonni, Audi, Calvin Klein, Target, Triple Five Soul, and Swarovski. His designs are unique due to his desire to mix the artisan detailing of handicrafts with the benefits of mass production to make pieces available to consumers.  He has been interviewed and profiled in major design magazines like Dwell and is featured in this month’s Salt Magazine, the official trade magazine of Swarovski (available online) as well as the New York Times and popular online sites like Gestalten and Dezeen.  Burks’ work has been exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in addition to his shows this month.

Pieces for Capellina

Burks is a pioneer for his technique’s and approach to design, which often involves the communities and an eco-conscious mindset. He has worked extensively in Senegal, Peru and South America, collaborating with local artisans in the creation of his furniture and pieces. He draws inspiration from the lifestyles and materials from the various places he travels which gives his furniture a sort of authenticity and also allows them to serve as functional art, standing apart from what you typically see on the market.

Burks MAfrique works for Moroso

Burk’s stance on design as a singular entity, not divided by discipline allows him to draw inspiration from every field as well as include aspects of each in his creations. Looking through his work you see the detailing so enforced in architecture, but the textures and color more akin to fashion, but the functionality of product design all encapsulated in on stunning object that looks so different from what you see everyday. Burks has the ability to take an item like a chair and make it tell its story of creation and identity in the way it came together.

Burks is a design inspiration to us and exactly the type of thinker we here at All Black Everything like to celebrate. His commitment to sustainable materials, community involvement, preserving the rituals and tradition of handicraft, and the elegance of design will continue to make him standout as a world class designer. 2011 seems to be his year and it is just April and I know I personally am excited to see where he will go and what he will create from here.