From July 25 to 27, more than 150 designers gathered in Atlanta for the ninth-annual Black Interior Designers Network Conference, hosted by the BIDN. The conference gathers regional and national interior designers together for three days of networking, presentations and seminars, and social power-breakfasts, luncheons and cocktail parties.
Panels, presentations, small-group seminars, luncheons and cocktail parties were held at ADAC on Thursday and AmericasMart on Friday. Guests were welcomed by the BIDN executive board, which include president Keia McSwain, CEO Tony Ward, chief development officer Alison Harold, executive board members at large Tony Collins and Joan Goodwin, treasurer Stephanie Sullivan Whalon, and student representative Ashleigh Esprit.
“I'm incredibly honored for the opportunity to witness the magic that happens each year at the conference,” says McSwain. “My team and I work tirelessly to create a three-day event that leaves a lasting impression on all attendees, and we have done just that with this year's conference. I'm so excited for what's to come next year as we move to Vegas for our 10th anniversary!”
Thursday kicked off in the Century showroom with a breakfast and an interactive CEU on performance fabric by InsideOut, followed by a lively presentation on profitability by Corey Damen Jenkins. After a luncheon hosted by the The Shade Store, Shavonda Gardner gave an informative presentation by covering “How to Thrive in the Interior Design Blogger's World.” Afternoon programming kicked off with guided “How to shop a showroom” tours, with Andre Hilton leading guests through Romo, the team from Forbes + Masters shopping Stark, and Jason Mitchell discovering Baker. The afternoon concluded with a larger ADAC tour and evening mixer hosted by Michael Habachy.
Friday's program was held at AmericasMart. Patti Carpenter kicked off the morning with a talk on global inspiration found at Maison&Objet, followed by attorney Charles “CJ” Lawrence with a thorough review of contracts and legalities. After a luncheon at Curated Home Brands, Business of Home editor in chief Kaitlin Petersen moderated a panel discussion with four designers—Veronica Solomon of Casa Vilora Interiors, Rasheeda Gray of Gray Space Interior Design, Cheryl Luckett of Dwell by Cheryl, and Laura Thurman of Thurman Design Studio—who discussed how they strategize for a major show like High Point Market, build relationships with showrooms and vendors, and source with their clients in mind. Attendees then attended a presentation on the intersection of fashion and design by celebrity stylist Jason Bolin, and had the afternoon free to visit and shop AmericasMart.
Friday evening's focus turned more social, with Bolin hosting the All Black Vignette mixer. Three local designers and firms—Justin Williams, The Sisters and Company, and Head of the House Interiors—created lavish vignettes showing off local product and their signature style. Michel Boyd hosted a brunch at 5Church to close out the conference on Saturday.
“We had an amazing time at this year's conference,” said Tony Ward. “Kimberly Ward started something beyond amazing when she started this organization. Our goal is to continue celebrating African-American designers, providing them with learning and networking opportunities that they cannot find anywhere else.”
“The first phrase that comes to mind is amazing community,” adds Harold. “I believe that community is key, and we've developed a strong community of African-American designers who we hope to continue to support and will support each other.”
Images by Charles Dante.