United in Design: Leading designers launch interiors apprenticeships to attract diversity

Sophie Ashby and Alexandria Dauley from charity initiative United In Design invite applicants for year-long paid placements

United in Design
United in Design co-founders Alexandria Dauley and Sophie Ashby
(Image credit: PR)

United in Design is calling all aspiring interior designers of all ethnicities and minority backgrounds trying to get their big break! 

An exciting new apprenticeship scheme has been launched by United In Design, the charity initiative co-founded last year by Alexandria Dauley from Dauley Design and Studio Ashby’s Sophie Ashby aimed at increasing diversity in the interiors industry.

The apprenticeship scheme is open to all final year graduates of undergraduate interiors and spatial programmes including certificate, diploma and BA students and will grant a one-year paid role across four prestigious London practices. Leading names that have pledged placements include Julian Chichester, David Collins Studio, Balineum, Salvesen Graham and Peter Mikic.

There are currently six full-time apprenticeship roles available, each offering a salary of £22,000, and they will begin in April this year.

United in Design

(Image credit: PR)

"We want to open doors, educate, and create a truly inclusive industry that celebrates people from all ethnic backgrounds,” says Alexandria.  Sophie adds: “Increasing opportunities for designers from ethnic minority backgrounds will help to change the narrative and stereotype of interior design. Design is for everyone and all should be welcome."

The idea for the initiative was sparked following the death of George Floyd last year and the Black Lives Matter uprising which followed.

“I have, in my life, experienced racism, which has fuelled my desire to change the situation for my family, for the industry and just in general,” explained Alexandria, who founded Dauley Design in 2016 after training at the prestigious KLC design school in Chelsea. 

“When I started my business I didn’t see anyone representing me,” she adds. “ At one point I wasn’t even sure whether to include my photograph on my website.”

After connecting with Sophie by chance over Instagram, the pair hit it off and almost immediately started creating the blueprint for the charity. 

“We’re trying to create an equal opportunity pathway into our industry,” says Sophie.  “We started by having separate but many conversations with people and the pledge is really about putting individuals and businesses in the driving seat to take on the responsibility of devoting enough time and energy to equal opportunities; school’s outreach, apprenticeships and training processes.”

A year-round mentoring programme has also started, with United in Design pairing experienced design professionals with aspiring designers aged 18 and above. Mentees are  offered one-to-one meetings or video calls on at least a quarterly basis to help seek guidance to break into the industry.

The apprenticeship scheme, which welcomes black, Asian and minority ethnic students, is open for entries now, closing 22nd January 2021. Apprenticeships will commence from 5th April 2021. For more details or to apply, visit United in Design. Mentor and mentee applications are also open.


Busola Evans

As the Deputy Editor of Livingetc, Busola Evans works across both print and digital and specialises in kitchens, bathrooms and projects. She is an expert at explaining how to improve, extend and convert your home. Prior to her current role, she was Associate Editor on both Livingetc and Homes & Gardens. A journalist for more than 20 years, she has written for a number of newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Sunday Times Magazine and Grazia,  and was an interiors columnist for the London Evening Standard's ES Magazine.