21 Black Women Changing the Architecture and Design Space


“My dear friend, Maxine, loved the first home I designed for my family. Whenever she visited, she would say, ‘When I buy another place, I will need you to design it,’” Kenza shares. “True to her word, she purchased another home and gave me a credit card. No budget was formally discussed, but I had an idea because we were close friends. She went away for a few months, came back, and loved the space. She continues to be one of my biggest supporters.” The New York designer continues to relish in “creating more beautiful spaces that reflect each client’s creative taste” along with designing custom bespoke pieces further down the pipeline.

Architectural Digest: What obstacles have you overcome while navigating your career path in this field?

Delia Kenza: There have been plenty, and I embrace them. It is part of the course. However, my biggest obstacle has been billing and how to price a project. I was so happy people paid me to do what I loved; and sometimes it’s easy to forget that it’s a business.

From your point of view, what should the future of design look like? What changes do you want to see, and what steps have you taken to build out this vision?

I would like design to be less judgy and more authentic. We all live differently, have different styles, and different budgets. A beautiful home is one well-lived and can take several forms. Also, I’m not too fond of trends; design is like art to me. They say you should buy the art you love, and that is the same in design: Buy what you love. There can often be too much of the same.

What piece of advice would you give to BIPOC who are interested in design but don’t know how or where to start?

I always say start. That may annoy some people. They may get the impression I am gatekeeping some essential information. But I am not. I’m serious when I say start. Again, it goes to my point of not feeling judged. Start where you are, be willing to make mistakes, and keep it original. The world needs more authenticity.

Little Wing Lee poses for a portrait at Black Folks in Design’s Spotlight II exhibition at VERSO in New York City.

Photo: Kelly Marshall

Little Wing Lee

As the daughter of a modern dancer, considering how space should feel was ingrained in Little Wing Lee. Naturally, this instilled her with a strong appreciation for how the combination of spaces, objects, and nature could create a beautiful environment—and a love for texture, color, and pattern. Lee’s professional career in design formally began while she was in grad school at Pratt. “Eric Daniels brought me into his architecture practice upon graduation to work as an interior designer,” she says. “And the late Hazel Seigel connected me to Architex, for whom I was able to design a textile, and subsequently made the introduction to me at SOM, where I went on to work.”



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