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Designer Highlight

BHM Highlight # 2 | 5 More Black Designers To Celebrate This Month

We've gathered 5 more influential designers & visionaries across industries to take a look at - enjoy this continued journey of celebration & education!

February 9, 2023
BHM blog Post

In recognition of Black History Month (during February and beyond), let us take a moment to celebrate and educate ourselves on the incredible legacy of some Black designers, creatives, voices, and taste-makers in our industry.

From industrial designers, to artists, architects, interior designers, and furniture craftspeople, these incredible innovators have advanced our culture and society in profound ways. All month we'll be highlighting their stories, their struggles, their triumphs, and their unparalleled contributions.

Follow up next week for even more short designer highlights!

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Pictured: Beverly Lorraine Greene

Beverly Lorraine Greene

Born in Chicago Oct. 4th, 1915 Beverly was the first black woman to graduate from the recently integrated University of Illinois with a BSc in Architectural Engineering in 1936. The following year she obtained a MSc in City Planning and Housing, once again being the first African American woman to do so.

No matter where she found herself, she always used her platform to advocate for professional black woman throughout her 18-year career. Greene’s work spans multiple projects but she is best known for her designs for the University of Arkansas, New York University and the UNESCO United Nations Headquarters in Paris and even though she died at the very young age of 41, her unique perspective and love of architecture is still an inspiration today.
Learn More About Beverly
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Pictured: Dr. Craig Wilkins

Dr. Craig Wilkins

Our very own Senior Project Manager Georgina Toth shares her personal connection to Dr. Wilkins below - anecdotal evidence of his undeniable visionary strengths:

I first met Craig Wilkins at the University of Detroit Mercy where we both studied architecture. Even back then I knew there was something special going on in that mind of his. He not only loved to speak about his design projects but his design philosophy. I was absorbing our professor's wisdom and regurgitating what was taught on paper and through design models; trying to achieve approval on the dreaded 'critique day'. Yet, here was someone that clearly had a voice and used it. Extraordinary.

In his award-winning book The Aesthetics of Equity: Notes on Race, Space, Architecture, and Music, he asserts that architecture's opposition to African Americans in this country is all around us. "All that Blackness, lost. Stolen. Silenced. Driven underground, erased; or so believed", he poetically writes in his article Innervisions.

Today Dr. Craig Wilkins challenges his own students at the Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning at The University of Michigan to have a voice. He is tireless in his pursuit of reshaping our understanding of architecture and the landscape around us; forcing us to consider why the U.S. landscape is what it is today and how to shape its future.
Learn More About Dr. Wilkins
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Pictured: Sheila Bridges

Sheila Bridges

Named America’s Best Interior Designer by Time magazine and CNN, Sheila Bridges is considered a creative visionary and design tastemaker. Most famously known for creating Harlem Toile de Jouy; the design draws inspiration from traditional French toile, reimagined to celebrate a complex history and rich culture, while exploring stereotypes and allowing expression of politics and art.
Sheila Bridges Design, Inc has designed residences and offices for many prominent entertainers, entrepreneurs and business professionals including the 8,300 square foot Harlem offices for former President Bill Clinton and his staff. Her interiors are often colorful and multi-layered but informed by architecture and historical reference.

Her visual cultural translations have been showcased in museums internationally, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Studio Museum of Harlem, The Museum of Art and Design in New York City, The Museum of the City of New York, Musée Des Beaux-Arts Montreal and the Musée De La Toile De Jouy in Jouy-en Josas France.
Learn More About Sheila
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Pictured: Samuel Ross

Samuel Ross

Samuel Ross is a multi-disciplinary artist and creative, known for his combination of architecture and sound experience in his approach to fashion. His approach to his fashion brand A-COLD-WALL* is heavily influenced by his training as an Industrial Designer. His designs speak both to contemporary culture and function as well as the use of fabric as a material and focusing on the structure and tactility, using that to create something profound.
Through A-COLD-WALL*, Ross has donated almost £100,000 directly to 42 exceptional Black British artists and entrepreneurs of color. His intentional practice of giving back beginning so early in his career is driven by his background and care for those in need of uplift. His design accomplishments include film, art, garment design, stage design, and other categories. Ross is a true example of someone who is not limited by category and takes design to its furthest level.
Learn More About Samuel
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Pictured: Thomas Day

Thomas Day

Thomas Day, the most prominent cabinetmaker in North Carolina during the 1850s, is much like the other industry pioneers that we are highlighting in that he combined both excellence at his craft with stylistic flourish that pushed boundaries and led to his success.

Day was born in 1801 to a free, educated Black family, and was able to create a name for himself while he was alive and posthumously impact the history of American Furniture styles. He created remarkable pieces of all types, with details that weren't revisited in American furniture styles until the turn of the century.

His notable accomplishments include owning a field for timber production and having a workshop output that at one point represented 11% of the North Carolina furniture market. His work and mission to compete with the furniture industries of other states is part of the foundation of North Carolina's status today as a center for furniture production in the United States.

Learn More about Thomas