The Top 20 African American Interior Designers 2011

Image by Michel Boyd of Smith boyd Interiors.

I understand that every time I walk into an auditorium to deliver a speech or sit on a panel for a discussion about interior design, I represent the minority.  Not just as an African American, but more specifically as one working as a professional in the design community.  When I am featured in magazines and other media outlets, the questions that repeatedly arises are, who are your colleagues, is there someone like you in my neighborhood? Who are the top African American designers?  First, understand this.  It is impossible to build a successful career defining yourself as only an African American designer.  Yes, I am African American, but I obtain clients of all races.  I'm sure that the designers on the list will agree - beauty and style know no color.  I worked with many different individuals to compile this list.  I took suggestions from other designers, decorative center staff from around the country, local Realtors and home builders.  I submitted the list to my esteemed colleagues for scrutiny and this is the final tally.  In no particular order, here are our the 
Michel Boyd               Smith Boyd Interiors     Atlanta
Cecil Hayes             Cecil Hayes                     Miami        
Elaine Griffin              Elaine Griffin           New York
Ron Woodson            Wodson and Rum     Los Angeles
Sheila Bridges           Sheila Bridegs      New York
Darryl Carter               Darryl Carter       Washington DC
Afiya H. Kumar         AHA Designs             Chicago
Robin Wilson               Robin Wilson Home  New York 
Joan Goodwin             Vernandah Interiors     Columbia, SC
Keitha Brathwaite   Contrast Design      Chicago
Joy Moyler                    Joy Moyler Interiors     New York
Kimberly Ward        Kimberly & Cameron Atlanta
Marian Akinloye      MA Design Studio     New York
Erin Shakoor               Shakoor Interiors     Chicago
Venus Williams       Vstarr Interiors        Miami
Lisa Turner             Interior Obsessions     Los Angeles
Courtney Sloane    Courtney Sloane      New Jersey
Janice Palmer         Ydesign International     Atlanta
Roderick Shade     Roderick N. Shade Interior Design     New York
Katherine Alford    Nyla Simone Home  Tempe, AZ


  1. Dear Kimberly and the staff at Pink Elephant,

    So honored to be amongst your esteemed list of talented designers. Thank you so much for the love and for thinking of me.

    Wishing you and Pink Elephant all the best and may you continue to be richly blessed.

    Best regards,

    Joy Moyler

  2. This is so exciting! I remember in the early '80's, when Joan would show me her hand made curtains and valences, talking about her grandmother showed her how to sew(at the time it was very hard to see it-but I gave a encouraging nod)and her wanting to go into the business of decorating. And calling me over to see her attempts at decorating her home(every week). Joan worked hard and never gave up. Lo' and behold Joan really started doing some great work-then fantastic work-then phenomenal work and now simply breathtaking. Truly, hard work and dedication pays off. Her vision is blessed. Your grandmother is smiling Joan-you're doing it, just like you knew you would. Continued blessings. Beverly Smith Cooper

  3. Anonymous10 May, 2011

    I fine Ms Goodwin's works are exciting and different, she bring the past,present and future together with a touch of class. Her use of bold colors, prints and fixtures take you beyone the ordinary and with her creative thinking, a designer that will bring you into a world of your own.

  4. Anonymous10 May, 2011

    Kimberly I thank you so much for this very honorable recognition. Your topics are very informative and motivational. You are always 10 paces ahead.

  5. These designers really raise the bar. As an aspiring young designer, it gives me motivation to think outside of the box and design with the same creative fervor that makes these top 20 innovative masters of their craft. Kudos to you all!

  6. Anonymous11 May, 2011

    I spent the last few hours going through the wwebsites of the bove mentioned designers. I was so inspired. I got lost in the images and stories of these phenominal designers.

  7. Anonymous11 May, 2011

    Great Website!!!!


    Lisa Turner
    Interior Obsession

  8. Anonymous11 May, 2011

    Did you consider designers from smaller markets. There's a designer named Jackie McCoy from Nashville,Tennessee who has does spaces for mega churches and state legislators. She should definately be considered for next year.

  9. Anonymous11 May, 2011

    Thanks for sharing
    Andria Terry

  10. Anonymous12 May, 2011

    Kudos to all the designers on this list especially Kimberly Ward whom I've watched since 1st seeing her in 2005 in Home of Color Magazine. You've come a lolng way. Good Luck to you.

    Kathy's Drapery
    Houston Texsa

  11. Love this list and can't wait to check out there work. Many names are new to me! M.

  12. Anonymous12 May, 2011

    This is Robin Wilson...thank you so much for the honor of being part of this Top 20 list of esteemed design colleagues. What a tribute that there are so many supporters - and hope you each pick up a copy of the July 2011 issue of ESSENCE magazine to see more of my work...BTW, the link to our site is

  13. Hi Kimberly! I love this post, and adore seeing so many recognizable names, but also several that are new to me. Thank you for your kind words over on my blog. I look forward to meeting you at Blogfest 2011! Deena :)

  14. Anonymous13 May, 2011

    Thank you so much for this honor and recognition among this group of influential design pioneers. Robin Wilson

  15. Anonymous13 May, 2011

    Kimberly, I am so excited to see this list of designers! It's refreshing that everyone brings something unique to the table. Congratulations to all of you! It's wonderful to see that so many other design (and other) professionals recognize and appreciate the creative talent you and the rest of the group have exhibited throughout your lengthy careers! Your signature ability to showcase your design vision while ensuring that you incorporate each of your clients' own personalities into that vision has served you well. Keep allowing your light to shine...the world is watching! - Kimberly Morris, Houston, TX

  16. Anonymous15 May, 2011

    I would like to wish a special congratulations to my mother Joan Goodwin of Verandah Interiors! Job well done! I'm so proud of you!

  17. Love the much needed recognition of these amazing designers and the diversity, old and new. Thanks also for introducing me to designers I hadn't heard of before.

    Very nice to meet you the other day.


  18. Anonymous22 May, 2011

    Thank you Kimberly for bringing together these awesome resources, ideas, and inspirations. It delivers a platform for all designers from all ethnic groups to see that taste, creativity, and design all come from one source, the soul.
    The taste level of these top 20 African American designers are to the hilt. Everyone here deserves to be here.

    Sharing and comparing ideas help strengthen the design community while leaving unhealthy competition unnecessary. As always, you have your finger on the pulse of the design community. You know what and who we should know and you share it.

  19. Kimberly,

    It was so nice to meet you at Blogfest! This is an incredible list, some I'm familiar with but many are new to me. What a joy to see and know that I'm a part of this community.


  20. Anonymous26 May, 2011

    This list is biased. Why would list yourself? Ive never seen ur work.
    This list warrants nothing.

  21. It definitely is. AMAZING NEWS! Thanks to everyone for your support. We just got word this morning that there will be a national campaign with the designers. Please stay tuned. It will be a first in many ways. In the mean time follow the designers and learn more about them on the newly designed Facebook Fan Page. Look for Robin Wilson in Essence in July and Sheila Bridges in Elle Decor in June. Also check your local newspapers and magazines for continued coverage of your favorite designer.

  22. Anonymous27 May, 2011

    I personally love the list! I've heard great things about your work. I love your site and wish you continued success! Kudos for bringing awareness to other AA designers!

  23. Anonymous27 May, 2011

    Thanks so much for higlighting this list of interior designers. I work in a market where I am clearly a minority as I am often the only African American at industry functions. Bringing this list to a level of national recognition sheds light on the fact that there are more African American interior designers producing astonishing work and sharing their craft with the world in other markets. I absolutely love what you have done. Thank you Kimberly and Pink Eggshell for sharing this list of top 20.

    J. M. Butler-Graves

  24. We worked on the list for over 3 months. What we found is when asked most people named the same 3 or 4 designers. Mainly the ones that they had seen in national magazines. We later found through referrals and recommendations that there were other lesser know designers out there doing amazing projects. We got Michel Boyd's name about a week before the list was to come out. I had never met him,but I pulled for him because I felt that his work could stand the test of time. I feel confident that he will be the next national sensation to come out of our community. I hope that the designer on this list will lean on each other for support and encourage each other to reach higher heights. I also hope that your presence in your industry is a similar beacon of light and that you seek out others who are blazing trails and let them know that you support them and that they are not alone.

  25. What a wonderful list! I enjoyed meeting you at Blogfest and have had fun clicking through all of the links on this list.

  26. Anonymous01 June, 2011

    I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the work of Designer Joan Goodwin. I think her work is superb; and appears to cater to both urban contemporary, and the elegant taste for the elite crowd. I think her work will surely take her to the height of her trade. . .excellent!! Gerri B.
    Sistrunk, New York City

  27. Anonymous06 June, 2011

    Don't forget Virgil W. McDowell. I love that his focus is Classical Restoration. Thanks for the list!

  28. Anonymous20 June, 2011

    What a wonderful tribute for all & kudos to my dear friend Joan for her recognition in the top 20! I have seen Joan’s work showcased for years & she never disappoints. My own experience? A home that is very much personal, luxurious yet livable, and tastefully done! Joan, you continue to be a blessing to me! Celeste

  29. I'm so happy to see this list. Thanks for posting and I love Michel Boyd's work.

  30. Joya Smith03 July, 2011

    I am currently an Interior Design student, returning to school after over 25 years of working as a proessional nail tech. It has always been my dream to become a Interior Designer. It is my passion to create. I am so happy to see the African Americans are working very successfully in the design field. I am so inspired to work hard to see my name on your list of Top African American Designers. Thank You So Much

  31. This is so wonderful! So glad you took the time to put this list together to highlight some very talented people! Hopefully it will continue to grow!! I'm not an interior designer, however I design and manufacture home decor items(rugs, throws, pillows, comforters, etc)

  32. Fabulous listing! I would love to see a list of the top 100 African American Interior Designers. I am sure there are so many of us who are under the radar.

  33. Interesting List, so many missing.

    Hunter Interiors, Inc

  34. I love your list of great designers. fantastic ideas. thanks

  35. Thanks Denise . Truth is, most are under the radar. Hope that changes soon. We're doing our part.

  36. You should really consider Jacquelin Quarles McCoy from Nashville tennesse, she has did HGTV, Eddie George former football player which was feature on cribs and espn, mega churces, healthcare offices, several projects in south africa, in which she is currently in south africa working on a project. Her company name is J Quarles Interior Designs, email address:

  37. I love Mrs. Jackie,
    I went to Tennessee State. Mrs. Jackie designed my then boyfriend's home as well as the homes of several of his friends. I've been to Eddie's home many times and love it. I also attended Mt. Zion during the time that we were building the new church that she designed. She was one of the first names that I submitted to the panel. She came highly recommended by a gentleman that served on the board of the Watkin's Art Institute with me. She is defiantely a pioneer in the field. I pulled the notes on her file and it seems that she is linked to a furniture store and is not working as a independent designer. There was no website and no real way to contact her other than word of mouth. I am still pulling for her, what she has done for the design community in Nashville is truly remarkable.

    1. Kimberly:
      Thank you for your most gracious compliments regarding my work as an Interior Designer here in Nashville an abroad. Since leaving Sprintz Furniture Showroom in 1999, I have continued my career under the business name of J'Quarles Interiors (formerly JaQue Interiors). I am presently constructing my website that will give more updates and other important information. I am also now working on a project in South Africa to be completed by September, 2012.

      Upon receiving my Spring issue of ADAC, I was delighted to see you listed as one of the presenters for Design Defined and very proud that you are representing the African American women's sector in this arena...Congratulations!!!! I have travel plans that I am trying to redirect so that I may attend.
      Please feel free to contact me at I look forward to hearing from you!!

      Kind Regards,


  38. I would love to work with all you wonderful Designers. If you ever would like to offer your clients Art of beauty and substance, look no further that STUDIO CMT.


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