Promoting Black Business and Entrepreneurship Within Design
Kamille Glenn is a designer born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, by way of the West Indies. She focuses on interior, architecture, and furniture design, but is passionate about all maker disciplines. Though passionate about design, she noticed the lack of representation early on in her career. As a response, she founded the Dsgnrswrkshp (pronounced designer’s workshop), a collective established to empower the underrepresented Black makers in design. Now, she is part of the jury panel os the prestigious BLT Built Design Awards.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where are you from?
I’m a multidisciplinary designer born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. My design focus comprises interior, architecture, and furniture design although my passion for the built environment spans across all maker disciplines. As a former associate at Rockwell Group in New York City, there, I had the pleasure of taking on some of the most interesting design challenges and contributed to several groundbreaking projects alongside incredible designers, artisans and craftsmen.
In noticing the lack of representation in design early on in my career, I founded the Dsgnrswrkshp (pronounced designer’s workshop) as a response. The collective was established with the goal to empower the underrepresented Black makers in design. My mission with this community is to bridge gaps, curate a safe and relatable space, as well as promote Black business, education and entrepreneurship within design. Prior to designing and community building, I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology and freelanced in experiential design.
When did you start working in the “Design World”? What is your best memory from the first years of your career?
I’m going on the ninth year of my design journey. My best memory would have to be my first site visit. I was working on an international project in Lisbon, Portugal. It was my second time in Europe and, at the time, work travel felt so foreign. It was an absolute dream.
In general, what are your guiding design principles?
I’d say I have three. Research, first and foremost. I work on a lot of international projects reflecting foreign cultures and communities. As a Black woman who often experiences appropriation of my culture, my top priority is accurately and respectfully representing others through my work. Second, create a sense of place. Whether it be a restaurant or hotel, new businesses, location has a purpose and existing culture that should be reflected and embraced, it’s welcoming. Lastly, details matter, down to the doorstep!
You have founded the “Dsgnrswrkshp” (pronounced designer’s workshop), a collective established to empower the underrepresented Black makers in design. When did you start this new community/project and what kind of support do you provide?
I started Dsgnrswrkshp in 2019, but it was an idea that started forming during my senior year at F.I.T. five years prior. Transparently, I longed for community and support I couldn’t find in design. Creating a community in support of the Black Maker in design is only one part of the mission. In support of community building, our programming includes curated conversations, social events, community service, field trips, and more that engage design, arts, education, and healing. In February, we hosted VISIBILITY x DSGN, our largest event which gave Black makers the platform to share uninterrupted dialogue on various topics in design, allowing us to be transparent but most importantly to heal. Design can be a filling but very draining space, we don’t acknowledge that enough. Our end goal is to support makers throughout their design journeys beginning with pre-college. To do so, we’re building our membership & partnership packages with resources we are so excited to share in 2022.
How can designers be involved with “dsgnrswrkshp”?
Our collective growth is a community effort, there are so many ways to get involved! First, you can stay connected with us by signing up for our newsletter and following us @dsgnrswrkshp on all platforms, there you’ll find content by incredible Black makers, collective events, and more. If you’re a Black creative, join our space as we grow collectively and volunteer for our resource-sharing events, campaigns and features. We encourage our allies to engage with us by sharing this space with their Black design peers and fellow allies. As well as educating themselves on collective content and Black-owned businesses. Keep a lookout for our 2022 features! Lastly, this is a community-powered space in all forms, we greatly appreciate donations via our website!
What are you working on at the moment, and do you have any upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re able to tell us about?
Outside of the membership building, we’re really excited about VISIBILITY x DSGN 2022 and our next design campaign slated for this summer.
What can we wish you for 2022?
Expansion and funding! We’re growing organically and beautifully, and intend to keep up the momentum.
Last, do you have any tips for aspiring Designers?
My life’s motto is to stay curious, if you follow your curiosity you’ll remain open to all the opportunities that flow your way. You must follow, though!