Interior designers Sophie Ashby and Alexandria Dauley have launched a new charitable initiative, United In Design, to address the lack of diversity within the interior design industry.
Along with a steering committee of leading editors and some of the industry’s most well-known designers, the new platform’s main aim is to help ensure there are equal opportunities for people of all backgrounds in every sector of the industry, from design studios to makers and magazine brands.
‘The issues of inequality and diversity across the interior design industry need to be addressed,’ says Alexandria. ‘The situation needs to change and the time to instigate that long-lasting, tangible change is now.’
Sophie adds: ‘The profession of being an interior designer has the badge of elitism stamped all over it, a luxury service reserved for the wealthy and few. But home is everything. It means family, safety, shelter, warmth, comfort… if you’re lucky, it’s the framework to a life well-lived.’
Industry professionals are being asked to give their support and become members of the new movement by committing to at least three actions from a seven-point pledge, which includes actively pushing for diversity, offering work experience and mentorship, and investing in diversity training within their business.
Sophie, founder of the practice Studio Ashby, and Alexandria, who runs London-based Dauley Design, joined forces following the murder of George Floyd in May and the global anti-racism uprising that followed.
A few days later, Sophie issued a heartfelt statement openly acknowledging her own shortcomings in making sure her company was diverse.
‘We are not fighting hard enough to be anti-racist in my business… fact,’ she said. ‘I will commit to doing better. It’s my responsibility to listen more to those within our industry who are not heard or represented and do my best to make sure Studio Ashby is not adding to the problem, but instead is part of the necessary change.’
Alexandria, who trained and has tutored at the prestigious KLC School Of Design, has first-hand experience of the lack of diversity in interior design. ‘I am acutely aware this industry is not multi-cultural nor is it accessible to those from minority or underprivileged backgrounds. We are not widely represented,’ she has said.
United In Design’s key goal is to be an ongoing sponsored initiative to nurture high-potential candidates from BAME and low socio-economic groups, and eventually fund scholarships, apprenticeships and bursaries.
‘We need to make interior design an accessible and obtainable career choice for people from diverse backgrounds,’ says Alexandria. ‘United in Design will be working with the industry to tackle the obstacles preventing this – correcting the balance and levelling the playing field.’
To discover more or apply to be a partner, visit unitedindesign.com