The Iconic Home, a virtual show house, will launch this November as a partnership between Architectural Digest and the Black Interior Designers Network (BIDN). Samantha Josaphat, founder of Studio 397 Architecture, will design the plans, which will include some 15 rooms, among them a home office and a wellness space. Ten-plus Black designers from across the U.S. will participate.
The show house’s name brings full circle a dream of the BIDN’s late founder, Kimberly Ward. Ward, who started the organization nine years ago, envisioned a show house as part of its future.
“Partnering with Architectural Digest to produce a digital show house that is fully representative of Black interior designers is a dream come true to me, our members, and most importantly, Kimberly Ward,” says BIDN president Keia McSwain. “We have diligently worked with AD every step of the way to ensure that each decision, participant, and partner understands the need for both diversity and inclusivity, and openly celebrates Black design talent and works towards a more representative future.”
Ward died at age 43 in 2017 from cancer. In addition to founding the BIDN, Ward was also a designer and editor of the design blog Pink Eggshell, where she created the “Top 20 African American Interior Designers” list. In April 2017, she told Business of Home, “I started the Network to solve two problems. One, to give exposure to Black interior designers by injecting them into the design conversation on all levels. Two, to provide educational opportunities for up-and-coming designers who need business structure and entrepreneurial help.” Ward had chosen the name “The Iconic Home” as an umbrella brand for both editorial content and a potential show house for BIDN. The initiative between BIDN and AD will be the first of its kind to bring together a national shelter publication and a Black-led design organization with an all-Black designer team.
“AD’s partnership with the Black Interior Designers Network is a proud moment in the brand’s 100-year history, and The Iconic Home will truly bring the best of design to life in new and innovative ways,” says Architectural Digest editor in chief Amy Astley. “Aligning with BIDN on this virtual show house and amplifying the incredible work the organization does to advocate for Black designers is a necessary enterprise and one we hope to continue for many years to come.”
Launching on ArchDigest.com in November, the shoppable virtual experience—which will feature 360-degree photorealistic renderings—will spotlight “hot spots” throughout the home that link to e-commerce. Gaggenau, Caesarstone, Crate and Barrel, CB2, The Shade Store, Interface, and Purple Innovation are the initiative’s inaugural sponsors. A full roster of participating designers will be announced next month.
“Partnership on a program of this magnitude is a significant step in the direction of allyship and driving change in the culture of our industry,” says Alison Harold, director of business development at the BIDN. “It is our hope that by showcasing the unique talents and perspectives of Black designers we can deepen relationships with industry leaders like AD and continue to hear and see our voice at every level.”