Robert Nieminen
Tour of Miami Design District

Miami Students Kick Off Design Your World Classes This Summer

July 22, 2022
IIDA’s pipeline education program expands to the south and resumes in Chicago for the second year.

Classes may be out for summer for most students in the Sunshine State, but a select group of high schoolers ages 13 to 17 are taking a four-week crash course in interior design as part of the expansion of IIDA’s Design Your World (DYW) program to Miami.

“The program, called Design Your World, started in Chicago last year. It was via Zoom, but this is the first year that we’ve had in-person classes,” said Kenzie Leon Perry, creative director for ZeHause Interior Design Studio and instructor for the course taking place at his alma mater, Florida International University (FIU). As a registered interior designer in the state of Florida, Perry has been practicing since 2006 and actively involved in the local design community helping with scholarship fundraising and mentoring students.

Exposure Through Education

i+s recently traveled to the Miami Design District where students were treated to a walking tour of the area to gain exposure to interior design, architecture and the history of Miami. Perry said his goal for the summer session is to teach students about the foundations of interior design, review perspective drawings and how to draw floor plan elevations, as well as review materiality and other design principles.

Part of the curriculum will involve the students working in teams to design a space in Miami—specifically, “The Living Room,” a 42-foot-tall unfinished home turned inside out that performs as a landmark and social sculpture within the Miami Design District, which the students spent time hand sketching during their tour.

“I think it’s great exposure for these students to get their hands on a curriculum that provides instruction, enrichment and education about interior design, specifically, commercial interiors. And so, I wanted to make sure that I was being an influence to these students so they can decide if interior design is indeed something that they want to pursue,” Perry said.

Equity Through Education

The DYW program positions design as a viable career option for a diverse group of high school students and emerging professionals through its curriculum to help solve the problem of inequity in the industry.

“[Diversity is] definitely important to the industry because I, myself, working as a minority, didn’t see a lot of faces that looked like mine, so I’ve only really had an opportunity to work in one firm where I saw many people that looked like me, and it really changed my outlook on the industry and maybe enjoyed my experience even more,” Perry recalled. “I think it’s important to make sure our industry is more diversity driven, including all nationalities and cultures, because there’s many points of view, not just one.”

Design Your World also returned to Chicago for a second year, supporting the program’s nationwide trajectory and goal to support individual chapters and regions with unique resources. 

About the Author

Robert Nieminen | Chief Content Director

Robert Nieminen is the Chief Content Director of Architectural Products, BUILDINGS and i+s, sister publications of Smart Buildings Technology. He is an award-winning writer with more than 20 years of experience reporting on the architecture and design industry.

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