My Story behind designing nuturing spaces for a Black Overachiever
I grew up as a competitive figure skater. And being into sports, I thought “fair” was something that everyone could experience. If I worked hard, and followed the rules of the sport, success could be achieved. But, there were times when I may have not have placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd based on politics or opinions. (Later on, technical skating scores were tightened to keep opinions and politics out of scoring).
My parents didn’t talk much about discrimination while I was competing, because they never wanted that to be an excuse or a reason for me not to do my best. So, I would internalize what went wrong, always trying harder the next time. But, it hurt, inside not being able to get the recognition I felt in my heart I deserved.
When you’re growing up, it’s easy to assume others experience “fair” the way you do. But, through generations, the Black family has always had to reach higher, and “do better than” their white counterparts to achieve equal footing to offset systemic racism. So, when I think of being an overachiever, it’s in this context.
Many cultures encourages achievement through the way we teach our kids, the stories we tell, and the behaviors we reward. Many hardworking students of their crafts seek some form of gratitude and / or recognition as a reward for their hard work. “Fair” is one of those terms we think makes sense in a world where hard work prevails.
It starts in childhood. “Fair” is one of those terms we think makes sense in a world where hard work prevails as a child. But it may not apply to a Black child. So, many parents push their children to “be better than” so they can be “good enough”. Now, there are some that get the accolades. And that’s great. But, there any many who get overlooked.
So, I took on the challenge of designing around this generational mindset for the Artist Studio and Gardens in the Obsidian virtual concept house. I’ve never designed an environment around such a vulnerable emotion. But, I realized that with my lighting, interiors, and storytelling design background, I could create elements in spaces that nourish and inspire.
Yes, it’s some personal therapy. But, I am not alone. And yes, I’ve felt rejection many times in my design career. The truth is I’ll really never know what’s in people’s minds. It’s hard to explain. It’s a gut intuition. Sometimes it’s blatant, and sometimes it’s not. You just know.
Organic Shaped frame that features “Hair” by Karen Revis @REVISionaryprints and Bradley Bowers Moire Wallpaper. Curves that are soft, irregular and Imperfectly, perfect – Inspired by Orphism. Mood board of Upper Observatory Artist Studio – [/caption]
So, these spaces I designed are also for the hardworking people and artists who may feel overlooked despite how hard they try.
I grew up around teachers and family who have been great role models for me; giving me opportunities they didn’t have, and figure skating coaches who pushed me to be my best self. And because there’s so much strength that is gained from the struggle, I noticed that many times I didn’t know when to give myself a break; even when the acknowledgment wasn’t there. But, I also realized that I’m far from alone.
One of the most beautiful things about this last year during Covid, has been feeling supported and understood by a global community of other Black designers.
A lot of things have been exposed from the Black Lives Matter Movement marked an important pivot point for the design community. I learned that maybe its’s not a bad thing to expose vulnerable narratives that I normally would not have placed in the public eye. I’ve learned through all of this to enjoy the process and give yourself a break. So, I created an Artist Studio with elements I designed that focuses on Joy as the whole game, and not the end game; with healing colors, forgiving soft curves, and many other factors that I will share in my upcoming blog.
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This is my blog on design philosophy. I find many of us are moving so fast, we don’t really know why we truly make decisions – and some of those decisions we have to live with for a long time.
Design affects how we feel about ourselves. And how we feel about ourselves affects how we choose. So, I found myself diving into the deeper meaning of design. Because it’s not just about what we like, but why we like it.
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