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Thermador, IDS Address Lack of Diversity in Interior Design

Thermador commissioned survey reveals mentorship and financial support are critical for underrepresented demographics to break into the interior industry.

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Thermador, the iconic American luxury home appliance brand, has launched the Diversity in Design Pipeline to empower a new generation of talent from underrepresented communities. 

The Thermador Diversity in Design Pipeline Initiative, in partnership with the Interior Design Society (IDS), will support up to five collegiate students in their senior year at an accredited interior design program. The comprehensive prize package will include a financial scholarship of $10,000 toward tuition, a one-year mentorship program with a hand selected interior designer, invitations to key industry events and a one-year student membership to IDS including access to local chapter events and larger professional networking opportunities.

“Interior designers have long been a pillar of the Thermador brand,” said Beatriz Sandoval, Director of Brand Marketing for Thermador. “We feel a great sense of responsibility to ensure we do our part to create a supportive and inclusive environment for diversity, creativity and innovation that allows talent to break into this industry and thrive.”

To select these deserving and talented students, Thermador and IDS have created an esteemed group of industry leaders to serve as the Selection Committee including, Oh Joy! Founder Joy Cho, HGTV design star contestant Justin Williams, House Beautiful Market Director Carisha Swanson, multi award-winning interior designer and co-founder of Bauer/Clifton Interiors Jeremy Bauer and award-winning interior and product designer David Santiago of Casa Santi Interior Design. This expert panel will choose five incoming college seniors to receive this opportunity to kickstart their career with all the tools necessary upon graduation. 

“I'm thrilled to be part of an initiative encouraging and supporting diversity in the arts and design both for our present and future generations,” said Joy Cho, Founder and Creative Director of Oh Joy! “This is a critical issue for our industry and it’s important to give talented students opportunities to thrive.”

Professional designers are also invited to participate by becoming a mentor. Five mentors will be hand selected by the same panel of judges to be paired with each student awarded. In addition to being able to give back to their community, these mentors will guide their respective mentees through the yearlong programming outlined by Thermador and be invited as guests of the company to the same industry events.

“Our mission at IDS has always included using our voices to impact our collective communities,” said Jenny Cano, Executive Director for Interior Design Society “It’s vital that we not only provide the tools for emerging designers to grow their business, but the skills and network to leave their mark on the larger industry.”

Interior design students from underrepresented communities interested in the scholarship, along with certified designers interested in becoming mentors, can both apply now via the Interior Design Society (IDS) online application portal now through July 17th. Applicants will be reviewed by the IDS Selection Committee, before the winners and selected mentors are announced later this summer.

In developing the Diversity in Design Pipeline program, Thermador sought to better understand the obstacles facing the interior design industry and commissioned research to identify the key barriers to entry into the field. In the initial survey, conducted by YouGov online in late 2020, respondents reported that the lack of diversity was a top concern for their field, only following lack of available jobs and competitive wages. According to the same survey, 79% of respondents said finances were the top perceived barrier while more than 70% of respondents agreed that mentorship opportunities and access to potential employers are essential to ensure diversity within the industry. Additionally, 34% of all interior designers said they experienced racial discrimination in their career – including 66% of Black designers and 54% of Hispanic/LatinX designers.

Survey and Program Highlights:

  • Lack of diversity was reported as one of the industry’s top three concerns, only after lack of jobs and concerns regarding wages.
  • Within this survey, 79% of respondents said finances were the top perceived barrier while 70% confirmed that mentorship opportunities and access to potential employers are essential to ensure diversity within the industry.
  • In response to findings, Thermador has launched an initiative in partnership with the Interior Design Society to advance diversity in the design sector by supporting students from underrepresented communities through a nationwide scholarship and mentoring program.
  • Oh Joy! Founder Joy Cho, HGTV design star Justin Williams, and House Beautiful Market Director Carisha Swanson will join interior designers Jeremy Bauer and David Santiago to select incoming college seniors for this comprehensive scholarship package including $10,000 toward tuition, IDS membership, and access to exclusive trade events. Additionally, each recipient will be paired with a hand-selected Interior Design mentor who will provide valuable guidance and insight throughout the student’s final school year.
  • Students and certified interior designers are invited to apply to be selected as scholarship recipients and program mentors respectively, receiving a year of guided programming and perks on behalf of Thermador and IDS. 
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