The interior design business is flourishing with more than 60,000 employed interior designers, 13,000-plus design firms, and the industry sees around $8.6 billion in profit. In an industry that is so active, it takes a real edge over the competition to rise to the top. Interior designers need to have a knack for combining unexpected looks, creating a world within a room, and really understanding their customer’s needs. That’s just what these individuals did in the African diaspora: 8 top African American interior designers.
Robin Wilson is a New York-based designer who specializes in eco-friendly and hypoallergenic products. Her products are sold at Bed Bath & Beyond and several other major retailers, totaling over 400 national dealers. Wilson’s mission is to educate people on how to have healthy and safe homes, with a book out called “Clean Design: Wellness For Your Lifestyle.” Wilson has also done impressive charity work; she worked on a project called EcoBungalow-LA in which she helped rebuild a home for a family who had lost theirs in a fire. Wilson decorated the new house with all fire-safe, non-toxic, and energy efficient materials, according to Blackenterprise.com.
Linda Allen is based out of Los Angeles, and she is best known for her high-end, wireless outdoor lighting options that are as sophisticated and elegant as indoor ones. Her idea was to create “instant living rooms” wherever a buyer might want them. Allen has a diverse background, too, having studied interior and environmental design before going on to design interiors for commercial firms and eventually working for Walt Disney Imagineering, creating story themed light fixtures for major theme parks. Allen’s lights have been featured in national publications and on design shows, according to Homeportfolio.com.
Roderick Shade grew up in California but is based out of New York, and you can see that bi-coastal background in his work which is urban but also very warm. He worked as a window dresser in New York before landing big recognition for founding the Harlem United Show House. Today he has his own line of furniture and fabrics and is the coauthor of the book “Harlem Style.” Shade’s rooms have been showcased in major studios and shows like the Hamptons’ Designer Showhouse and the San Diego Historical Society Designer Showhouse, according to Architecturaldigest.com.
Joan Goodwin has been in the interior design business in Columbia, South Carolina for over 20 years. Her design firm, Verandah Interiors, is nationally known and offers decorating consultations, custom interiors, furnishings, art and accessories for commercial and residential properties. Her specialty is eclectic design concepts that enhance living and work environments. She won the best interior design in the Parade of Homes 2008 and the lead designer in the prestigious City of Dreams 2002, according to Vcustomdesigns.com.
This Atlanta-based designer was born in Lousiana, and his style is influenced by the French culture of New Orleans. His rooms boast a combination of pieces that are classic Parisian, country chic and a little fantastical. “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Marlo Hampton selected Boyd to decorate her home. The pieces he picked out for her show attention to detail and high fashion, according to Pinkeggshell.com. Boyd is the owner of SmithBoydInteriors.com
Ron Woodson of Woodson & Rummerfield Designs is based out of Los Angeles and along with his business co-owner, Jaime Rummerfield, is earning a reputation for adding a fresh spin on old Hollywood glamor décor. The duo wrote the book “High Style,” which showcases several of their Hollywood projects and offers home décor tips. The two have picked up a fan base among Los Angeles celebrities, according to Californiahomedesign.com. When asked in an interview which trends he is looking forward to integrating into his work, he answered, “We don’t follow trends.”
Lorna Gross-Bryant is the owner of Savant Interior Design in Bethesda Maryland and a regular speaker and panelist at design seminars and business forums. Gross-Bryant was named a top designer by Home and Design magazine and won a 2013 Designer’s Choice Award in Washington D.C. in 2013. The designer is heavily involved in charity and has hosted several design shows that benefit organizations working with women and children in need, including Children’s National Medical Center. She’s also involved in the Cinderella Foundation for underprivileged girls and the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, according to Meridian.org. Gross-Bryant creates looks that are both posh and relaxed, and she likes to sample styles from around the world.
You might recognize designer Tiffany Brooks from her hosting role on HGTV’s “The Most Embarrassing Rooms in America,” where she gives makeovers to homes across America. Brooks describes her design style as “a twist of classic with a little bit of funk to it.” Brooks is from a farming area between Milwaukee and Chicago where the biggest store is a Walmart. She grew up reading design magazines from New York, Paris, and Milan before starting her own business, You and Your Décor, and eventually being discovered by HGTV. Brooks says that the African American community was “born with something inside of us. We have stories to tell; we have the gift of history to relate to, and we can translate that into interiors,” according to Huffingtonpost.com.