Black History Month: Celebrating Black Architectural Creativity & Innovation

February 1, 2022

Perhaps more than ever before, architects and interior designers have been called upon to create fresh ways of living, working, learning and growing in the spaces we call home. During the month of February, Engel & Völkers is proud to celebrate the Black voices and visionaries pushing architecture and interior design towards new horizons. 

Despite making up 2% of architects and less than 2% of interior designers, Black creatives have over two hundred years of industry experience, creating in some of the world’s most impressive structures and interiors. Nevertheless, the challenges of working in a predominately white industry are daily realities—bravely tackled and overcome by brilliant people with extraordinary imaginations. Please join us in celebrating these seven Black creatives and their work. 

For a more comprehensive resource of the Black architects and interior designers pioneering their fields, the Black Interior Designers Network and the National Organization of Minority Architects are great places to begin.

Nekeia McSwain, Principal Designer at Kimberly + Cameron Interiors

Nekeia McSwain shares her vision with Kimberly + Cameron Interiors throughout the Americas and has earned features in publications like Architectural Digest, Forbes, House Beautiful and The Wall Street Journal. Most intently focused on the primary and vacation homes of her clients in Denver and the Front Range of Colorado, McSwain’s eye and touch for unique interiors has brought her both national acclaim and award.

McSwain also acts as the President of the Black Interior Designers Network, the United State’s largest and oldest establishment for designers of color.

Stephen Burks, Founder of Stephen Burks Man Made

Soon after Stephen Burks’ finished his education at Illinois Institute of Technology and Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, he quickly became an industry trailblazer. His work with non-profits such as Aid To Artisans, Artesanias de Colombia, the Clinton Global Initiative, Design Network Africa, and the Nature Conservancy has earned him international recognition. 

Interested in the intersection of world production, temporary manufacturing and contemporary design, Stephen Burks Man Made strives to encompass all cultural perspectives. An ambitious feat.

From working with Calvin Klein to Estée Lauder, to his exhibit at Art Basel/Design in Miami and upcoming Fall 2022 show with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, Stephen Burks Man Made is an undeniable force in the field of industrial and furniture design.

Veronica Solomon, CEO and Principal Interior Designer at Casa Vilora Interiors

Veronica Solomon is not only the exuberant entrepreneur behind Casa Vilora Interiors but also a Design Business Mentor in Houston, Texas. Her upbringing in Jamaica has manifested in both design and practice: with bold colors and textures paired with a conscious appreciation for home luxuries and amenities, both big and small.

Solomon also recognizes the power of involvement in community. Her role as a Design Business Mentor includes course creation for a cohort surpassing 5,000 interior designers, group forums of more than 75 members and email newsletter hitting over 2,800 interior designers inboxes weekly. 

Solomon’s work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Better Homes and Gardens, and HGTV magazine. She is an awarded member of the American Society of Interior Design (ASID), the Black Interior Designers Network and the Black Artists and Designers Guild. After successful careers in banking and customer service, Solomon has taken her breadth of skills, experiences and creativity to shape the interior design industry for over a decade.

“The luxury that I bring to each project is ‘Conscious Living. It’s Experiential; it’s comfort; it’s privacy; it’s convenience; it’swhatever makes your heart sing’. You get to define what luxury is to you.”

— Veronica Solomon

Anishka Clark and Niya Bascom, Founders at Ishka Design

Anishka Clark, Interior Design Decorator at Ishka Design, pivoted careers after spending a decade in finance, on Wall Street and in Jamaica. Her minimalist aesthetic is rooted in its effervescent appearance and modern efficiency, both reminiscent of the waste-not upbringing from her Guyanese mother.

Clark holds degrees from Fashion Institute of Technology (2007), the Stern School of Business of New York University (2002) and University of the West Indies (1996). 

Fifteen years of photography experience has translated brilliantly into the interior design and landscaping industry for Niya Bascom, the Creative Director of Ishka Design. Partnered with a worldy upbringing, being born in England and raised in New York City, Bascom’s eye for clean, modern, efficient aesthetic is molding gorgeous interiors and landscapes across New York and beyond.

Breegan Jane, Principal Designer at Breegan Jane

Los Angeles-based brand Breegan Jane has a signature style combining artistry, elegance and simplicity. Their Principal Designer Breegan Jane has brought her interior design expertise and personality into the homes of millions who tune into programs like ABC’s live talk show, “The Chat” and  HGTV’s recent reboot of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” 

In addition to her career in interior design, Breegan Jane is a lifestyle expert, blogger, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

 “Helping is caring, simply put… Whether it’s donating or lending a helping hand, I want to do whatever I can to bring joy and light into the lives of others, however they need it.”

— Breegan Jane

Kiyonda Powell, Creative in Chief at Kiyond Powell Design Studio (KPDS)

For nearly twenty years, Kiyonda Powell has been innovating across industries, inclusive of hospitality and residential and boutique commercial design at KPDS.

Over the past three years, she has established a strong presence in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia with the Kiyond Powell Design Studio.

In that short time alone, her eye for a relaxed and casual aesthetic, with unique flares inspired by her clients, has rightfully earned her publications in The Wall Street Journal, Elle Decor,  Home and Design DC,  House Beautiful, Harper’s Bazaar and The Washington Post.

Bradley Bowers, Founder at Bradley L Bowers

Bradley L Bowers was founded in the Miami Design District in 2013. Using advanced technology and cutting edge design techniques, Bradley L Bowers is committed to designing homes and spaces that blend the boundaries between fashion, furniture and culture. 

Designer Bradley Bowers attended Savannah College of Art and Design, with honors and an advanced degree in Furniture and Industrial Design. Simultaneously, Bowers gained industry experience at Ralph Lauren, Procter & Gamble and Gulfstream Aerospace

In redefining the ways in which we understand our living environments, and the objects that fill them, Bowers remains on the precipice of the creative and cultural zeitgeists.

“True beauty is found in the overlap, the space between the possible and the sublime.”

— Bradley Bowers

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