It seems that there are disparities regarding African Americans in the field of design and architecture and an even bigger gap in those that went to an HBCU for interior design. Design education is a rarity among HBCUs, although there are several of these colleges that offer architecture degree programs, only Howard University offers a bachelor’s program in interior design. Despite that, HBCU alums are proving to be change makers in the field of interior design.
Here are a few HBCU alumni located in the south that are changing the narrative about being a Black college graduate and pursuing a career in interior design, even if it differs from their official degree program.
Cheryl Luckett – Dwell By Cheryl Charlotte, North Carolina
This belle infuses her love for southern comfort into a sophisticated, but approachable style. The Tennessee State University alumna majored in Family and Consumer Science, and her love for design began there. During her college days, her dorm was even used by the university as a model for prospective students, according to her website.
In 2012, Luckett transformed her love for design into her business, Dwell by Cheryl. A self-proclaimed former corporate girl, Luckett has been published in Traditional Home, Country Living, Southern Home, Charlotte Magazine, Charlotte Home Design and Decor and more publications. Aside from her love for designing beautiful home spaces for her clients, she also has an advanced degree from Prairie View A&M and is a Registered Dietitian. She received a Residential Interior Design diploma from Central Piedmont Community College in 2017.
Be sure to follow Luckett’s design journey on her Instagram page.
Jaye Nibbs – Jaye Nibbs Interiors Atlanta, Georgia
Another corporate leader turned interior designer, Jaye Nibbs is a go-to creative in the Atlanta area. Having attended Clark Atlanta University where she received a Master of Art degree, she brings her professionalism and creativity to the forefront when recharging a space!
Her style tends to incorporate clean, liveable looks with elegant pieces to create formal, yet approachable vignettes.
Her love of design came from her mother, who often traveled to countries like Turkey to find the best fabrics and rugs to design with. This love of patterns, fabrics and colors is infused into Nibbs’ business. You can book her services via her website and be sure to follow her on her Instagram!
Cecil Hayes – Cecil’s Designs Unlimited Coconut Creek, Florida
A graduate of Florida A&M University, Hayes is a trailblazing African American woman in the interior design field. Hayes is one of the first African American designers to manufacture furniture, case goods and upholstery. Hayes also was the first African American designer to be featured in Architectural Digest, an astounding accolade and a groundbreaking milestone for African American, female interior designers.
Although her approach to design isn’t restricted to a specific style, her expertise and tenure of over 40 years in the field makes her a notable spacemaker and design connoisseur. She has designed for other trailblazers (in their own rights) including NFL and NBA stars and music producer, Timbaland.