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Black History Month: Walter Hood on representation within design industry

Black History Month: Walter Hood on representation within design industry

29 October 2019

In 2018, our Design Economy Research uncovered the fact that only 13% Designers in the UK are from a BAME background - just 1.4% of which are designers of Black, African, Caribbean & Black British ethnicity.

Since our research came to light, representatives from the industry have taken initiative to raise awareness and encourage empowerment. This latest highlight was created by @thenames_joel from @hownowcreative (Music by @bensounds)

In celebration of Black History Month this year, we invited Walter Hood, an award-winning US landscape architect, artist and academic to talk about diversity issues, ethnicity and representation within design industry. His practice Hood Design Studio has a portfolio spanning public spaces for major institutions such as Cooper Hewitt Museum NY, International African American Museum and more.

Great things happen when we exist in each others world

Walter Hood

Why do you feel design is important and what do you feel it can achieve? 

It is important because ideas are universal, in that anyone can have an idea! The process of executing that idea can be empowering. 

What does equality, diversity and inclusion mean to you and what can be done to promote it in design? 

It means everything! But again, we have to work to make our society value these ideals. They are important to us as citizens in a democracy.

If you were to start all over again, what would you tell your younger self when you started considering your career pathway?

I would say to be more radical from the beginning. To embrace my culture head on in Landscape Architecture.

Who were your role models growing up? 

My father, grandmother, drafting teacher and the older guys in the neighbourhood.

What is the project you are most proud of? 

All of them, really. But my first project, Courtland Creek Park, has a special place in my memory, because of the people that I came to know and the simplicity of planting 150 trees.

Who has been your strongest supporter?

I would have to say the people in my studio. They believe in what we are trying to do!

Who have you admired in their career and achievements? 

Martin Puryear the sculptor. He is the first African American artist whose work resonated with me in a powerful way.

You have achieved huge accolades in your career, however, has it been challenging to get where you are?

Life is challenging and if you can make a career out of it... you are mighty lucky!

If you could speak directly to ‘the next big thing’ in design, what you say to them to help them on their way to a successful career? 

Be yourself and always try to tell the truth with the work.

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