What Level is Your Design Business?

Jamel Williams: A Call to Create Opportunity and Change at the University Level

Episode 596 #BLM of A Well-Designed Business®

Welcome to A Well-Designed Business! Today we are joined by Jamel Williams for another conversation in our Black Lives Matter series. As a young black designer and teacher, Jamel has a unique perspective on what can be done at the university-level to empower students of color. Please join us in this discussion on how mentorship in the university years could be a game-changer for all of our young designers, and especially our black designers, and Jamel’s suggestions on how schools can be that agent of change.

Jamel Williams is a young and passionate Interior Designer, Educator, and Entrepreneur who specializes in Residential Interior Design in all of New York and surrounding areas. Shortly after graduating from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, Class of 2017 with a Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design, Jamel founded To Be Designed, a full-service Interior Design Studio. Already having an undergraduate degree in Anthropology, his interests in people, cultures, and ways of life fuel his passion to approach design with a multidisciplinary perspective. His delicate persona, fortified drive, and a keen eye for detail provide the perfect foundation for every project he takes on, creating beautiful, and functional spaces in collaboration with his clients.

Also passionate about design education, Jamel took on his first two higher education teaching positions during the Spring 2020 semester at both Pratt Institute and Parsons Open Campus at the New School. He has had the pleasure of teaching both technical and theoretical courses; namely, AutoCAD 1, Professional Practice for Interior Designers, Interior Design Portfolio, Residential Interior Design, and Now Construction and Assemblies. Jamel’s active Interior Design practice and educational experience allow him to provide his students with the information needed in order to understand the principles of design so they too can create aesthetically beautiful, functional, and responsive spaces for their future clients.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and racial injustice spread across America, there has been an increased need for awareness, representation, and social change. Jamel has begun to think about ways he can use his platform to evoke change within the industry he serves. Being in direct contact with aspiring Interior Design Students and being a Black Designer in the Industry, Jamel thinks that one actionable solution may be to create relationships between students of color and designers of color, through mentorship, to create a sense of community and support for the young designers who may feel underrepresented once they cross over into the world of Interior Design.

Show Highlights:

  • Jamel addresses the disparities he observed during design school.
  • As Jamel points out, spaces are designed socially and politically to not reflect racism on the surface. It’s the systemic aspect of racism that prevents schools from addressing the issues.
  • Systemic racism is strongly psychological and ingrained. We are all in a system of racism that none of us built but we are left to deal with the pyschological aspects of it.
  • As a teacher at the prestigious Pratt Institute, Jamel’s philosophy is that all students should have a voice and that education should be conversational and collaborative.
  • Ideally, Jamel would one day like to teach a course with a culture-centered curriculum.
  • There seems to be a general disconnect in design education, beyond culture and race, because students do not have the opportunity to choose the track that is most meaninguful to them once they graduate.
  • Offering more classes of diverse subject matters and giving the students opportunities to choose more of the classes they take is one solution to enabling design graduates a more personalized, meaningful career track.
  • Jamel shares his thoughts on black culture in America.
  • Jamel sees a wide-open opportunity for schools to promote community and empower young black designers by facilitating mentorship.
  • True mentorship is a two-way street: The mentor also gains perspective, fresh ideas, and the joy that comes with paying it forward.

Connect with Jamel!




Great Resources From Jamel to Check Out!

Architectural Digest: 25 Black Interior Designers Speak Frankly About Their Careers, Successes, and Challenges

Interior Design: 7 African American Designers on How They’re Pushing The Design Industry Forward

The Designer’s Workshop


Black Artists + Designers Guild

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